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.
Having said that, we also understand that, ideological moorings notwithstanding, many BJP stalwarts even now must be uncomfortable with the fact that Singh has actually said that which ought only always to be insinuated. As the hours go by, expect to hear those aggressive but lame denials and cunningly diverting run-arounds from spokespersons of the BJP. But more to the grievous point, expect also the corporate media, electronic channels especially, indubitably hung upon a “Modi sarkar” to come, to seek clever forms of address to mitigate the unacceptable enormity of what Giriraj Singh has said in Deogarh, his proverbial “last refuge.” The most tested and tried ploy here will be to pounce on any non-BJP participant in the prime time “debates” who may question the Singh pronouncement by accusing them of being “communal” themselves, when, provenly, only the RSS-led Hindutva lobby ever still questions the patriotic loyalty of Indian Muslims—an ideological persuation wildly incomparable with quotidian cases of identity politics. The ominous threat from the Deogarh-Singh rally is, after all, nothing less than an invitation to a second partition of India, one that may finally render India a Hindu mirror state of an Islamic Pakistan, fulfilling the long-cherished RSS vision of Hindu Rashtra. Consider that a Harvard-bright scion of the Hindutva rightwing is on record as maintaining that citizenship must be taken away from Indian Muslims until they acknowledge their Hindu ancestory! And what a favourite he is of India’s electronic media channels. Consider also that Narendra Modi who never tires of claiming that his only electoral plank is “good governance” has, till the time of writing, not uttered one word in deprecation of what his ardent votary from Bihar, Giriraj Singh, has said.
The latest Hindutva scion to add his bit to these growing anti-Muslim voices is Parveen Togadia,a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) which had played a leading role in bringing down the four-centuries old Babri Mosque at Ayodhya on the fateful day of December 6, 1992. At a housing complex in Bhavnagar in Gujarat he has, as per reports, directed the Hindu occupants of properties to evict, by any means, if need be, the only Muslim Gujarati who has legally bought a property from a Hindu owner, and not to allow any Muslims to enter residence in Hindu areas. The RSS, typically, has made a statement to the effect that Togadia has claimed the reports to be spurious and fabricated. It remains to be seen how the story might develop and whether Mr.Modi will have anything to say.
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.