INDIA: Cat Out of the Bag

Published on ZNet, by Badri Raina, April 21, 2014.

Finally, the cat is out of the bag. That has been now said in so many words which the weltanshauung of the rightwing Hindutva election campaign has been remorselessly leading upto, namely that those who are inimical to a likely Narendra Modi-led government are anti-national, and “have no place in India and should go to Pakistan.” Thus, what has been a consistently insinuated sub-text of the Modi campaign has found articulation as actually the main plank of the RSS-mentored push for state power.  

This ominous, but entirely anticipated, pronouncement has been made ringingly by Giriraj Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in an election rally speech at Deogarh in Jharkhand state. The Congress Party has taken the matter to the Election Commission, but as in all other cases of transgression of the “model code of conduct” the Commission’s rather toothless reprimands come after the horses have bolted and intended purposes served.

For more than a relentless month now, the Modi campaign has been pegged on a familiar hyper-nationalism that seeks to bind three totalitarian policy objectives into a single, unified, and altogether forbidding injunction—that there can be no loyalty to India without loyalty to Hindutva, to militarist nationalism, and corporate control of the state, all three to be understood as loyalty to one supreme leader set to function as the only and final arbiter of “Indianness” and “patriotism.”

The Giriraj Singh pronouncement is clearly thus meant to bring back into “nationalist” memory the Partition of India, for which, it is to be understood, Indian Muslims, all Indian Muslims—without discrimination and qualification, and forever—were solely responsible. The loud suggestion here being that opposition to Modi must thus automatically be interpreted as the persistence of an “allegiance” among Indian Muslims which “justly” labels them “enemy number one” (the title of a whole chapter in Gowalker’s book, A Bunch of Thoughts).

This rooted RSS thesis is one that thus informs Modi’s oft-repeated slogan that “secularism” to him means “India first.” And “India” means not the Indian Constitution which guarantees all our rights of citizenship, among them the fundamental right to free speech and political, social, cultural dissent, and, therefore, the right also to oppose Modi and his view of things, but Hindutva. Suddenly, before our eyes, the Savarkar agenda of seeking to “militarise Hindudom” seems beginning to occupy the mainstream of Indian public attention, even as that other complimentary plank of the Savarkar thesis, namely “Hinduise the Military,” may also be underway, what with so many ex-service personnel making a beeline for the BJP.

The Giriraj Singh message is loud and clear as far as the Indian Muslim voter is concerned; but, it must be asked, as to whether the message is intended also for all those Hindu and other non-Muslim electors who remain opposed to the RSS-Modi agenda. This might create something of a problem both for Giriraj Singh and for Pakistan, since, at a rough estimate, two- third of Indian Hindus fall into that oppositional category. Consider that the BJP has never polled more than some 26% of the popular vote at any General Election, and hardly many Muslims vote for the party … //

… All patriotic Indians across communities, classes, and denominations must therefore take a call after what Giriraj Singh has said. An unprecedented con job is now underway—that makes spurious claims on “development” and that furthers without hesitation a political programme of sectarian divisiveness, social tension, and anti-democratic centralization, and, if successful, bids fair to alter for the worst the thoughtful and tested equilibriums of state and polity.

There are moments in human history that can be unforgiving and irretrievable. India may now be faced with one such.
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