Dont force feed faith
When the Fringe Become the Mainstream
As I write this we have been preparing to demonstrate against the shocking, though predictable conduct of the Shiv Sena Members of Parliament at the Maharashtra Sadan force feeding a staffer who happened to be Muslim and who also happened to be on the month long Ramzan fast in New Delhi. It is to the credit of an otherwise compliant and omplacent media that this issue was given the attention it rightly deserves in a secular democratic republic.
The point is that the Shiv Sena and the sangh parivar , now in power and control in New Delhi actually believe that India is no more secular and democratic, but actually there dream inverse state of Pakistan – a Hindu Rashtra. Listen to what BJP member Ramesh Bhiduri said yesterday in Parliament when the matter was being debate “ Go to Pakistan, this is Hindustan.” Not Bharat, not Dr Babbasaheb Ambedkar’s Mahatma Gandhi’s, Nehru’s or Maulana Azad’s India but their crude and majoritarian idea of a Hindu state. As the battle raged in India’s Parliament and even an obdurate Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan could not brush off this brazen anti-minority turn that Indian Parliamentary legislators have displayed comfortable in the new dispensation.
Bhiduri won in the nation’s capital, from the South Delhi Constittuency by 1.7 lakhs votes as the division of the secular vote ensured Hindutva hegemony. Number two was AAm Aadmi Party’s Col Devendra Sherawat who polled an impressive 3,90,000 votes and Number 3 was the Congress’ Ramesh Kumar with 1,25,000. Bhiduri is not alone in his sentiment. Remember the April 20, 2014 statement of Giriraj Singh of the BJP from Nawada that “Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India". He got elected despite these abominable sentiments (shows gow communal sections of the Indian electorate are) and has since been embroiled in yet another controversy with a robbery at his home eliciting Rs 1.14 crores for the thief !!!
Maun Pradhan Mantri who did not let his predecessor Manmohan Singh sleep in peace with his ravings and rantings has fallen curiously silent. He vanishes from Parliament after Question Hour, sometimes does not attend at all and when it comes to Arshad being force fed or Mohsan Shaikh being lynched to death in Pune, clams up to a deathly silence. Silence we have been told is the proverbial mode of consent, so can we assume that the absence of sharp criticism from the Prime Minister signifies approval of these acts?
Coming back to the incident. Force feeding someone fasting as an article of faith is like making an upper caste Hindu being force fed vegetarian during the month of Shravan, a month before Ganapathi celebrations. Shivaji the eclectic ruler of smaller kingdoms would have balked, he followed a peculiarly charming form of Indian pluralism, having Muslims in key positions and even building a Mosque outside his fort at Raigadh for Muslim subjects.
It is the peculiar brand of goondaism, lawlessness and majoritarian Hindutva that colours the present dispensation in Delhi and who are itching to take control of Maharashtra. Burning buses, attacking Bihari taxi drivers, spitting venom through their viterolic speeches, these acts of the bully have proven effective because of a spineless political administration (Congress and NCP has ruled Maharashtra since 1999) not taking firm action against them.
Their bone deep prejudice was evident during this controversy when they brought up Gujarat 2002 and Godhra. As if the burning alive of 59 innocents could be or should be equated to close to 2,000 brute and daylight reprisal killinhgs and rapes. But then it is this tu tu mein mein politics that the politics of communalism, be it of the majority or minority, thrives on. Because you did this to us, we justify our own brutality, our murdeous killings, our targeted rapes etc. A recorded interview with former BJP woman parliamentarian Jaywantibehn Mehta at her Malabar Hill residence in Mumbai in the 1990s with this author was shocking. I spoke to her about the December 8-9 1992 rapes in Surat Gujarat post Babri Masjid demolition and without an ounce of concern for the women brutalised said, with her eyes glaxed over, “But what about what happened to Kashmiri Pandit women?” Both wrong, both horrific, all victim to the politics of hate.
Pakistan has been the dream state for the Hindutvawaadi since the mid 1980s, they salivate at the wrongs done in the name of religion based nationalism, confident that they can be the pallbearers of a reverse politics here, back home. With the 2014 poll results that saw large sections of urban Hindu upper caste India opt for this brand of politics, even if the percentage was and is only 31 per cent nationally, the challenge will be in both locating and reclaiming the resistance.