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Drop The Pretence, Name Nagpur As India's Capital

08/09/2015 8:14 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and India's next prime minister Narendra Modi, second right, and BJP President Rajnath Singh, second left, perform evening rituals with the help of a Hindu priest, as leader Amit Shah folds his hands in respect on the banks of the River Ganges in Varanasi, an ancient city revered by millions of devout Hindus, India, Saturday, May 17, 2014. Modi will be India's next prime minister, winning the most decisive victory the country has seen in more than a quarter century and sweeping the long-dominant Congress party from power, results showed Friday. An elaborately decorated platform was built for him to offer prayers on the banks of the river. Saffron flags fluttered above the flower bedecked platform and thousands of supporters and onlookers milled around to watch as Hindu priests chanted sacred verses and burnt incense. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

A miasma of impending gloom envelops the Indian horizons. The extreme right-wing fanatics seem to have embarked with brazen brutality on their quest to liquidate modern intellectuals, and are likely to be involved in the deaths of MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. But India's current political leadership has maintained a calculated silence. For the BJP, anything remotely liberal that challenges traditional rigidities deserves instant condemnation and retaliation, a bonfire of the vanities.

PM Modi made smart political capital of the much-exaggerated economic doldrums story in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to make susceptible Indians believe that he had a magic panacea for every ill that plagued the nation. Development was always just a canny subterfuge for the real agenda of Hindutva. The dangerous narrative is currently playing out in your nearest neighbourhood. The change in India post-May 2014 is palpable -- NGOs are being hounded out, Gujarat riot activist Teesta Setalvad has been targeted and individual freedoms are being threatened, cases in point being the beef ban, Ghar Wapsi and the attempted porn ban.

"Today, the RSS runs the world's most exciting emerging market... In a country of a 172 million Muslims, not one occupies the BJP's 282 seats in the Lok Sabha."

When serious corruption allegations engulfed his senior party leaders, Modi acted predictably sanctimonious and chose the option of stubborn denial. BJP trolls on social media have gone so far as to even threaten vulgar violence against women journalists. Is this what 31% of Indians voted for?

Last week's BJP-RSS meeting conjured up some hilarious imagery: ministers making PPT presentations to pracharaks, perhaps lying prostrate in some complex yoga position. But that's just my imagination. What is not imagined is the danger of India's destiny being in the hands of an unelected, unconstitutional lot, who believe in Hindu Rashtra. Interestingly, this is what BJP MP MJ Akbar wrote in his book Riot After Riot: "RSS represents Hindu revivalism of the worst sort; the most dangerous, clandestine force, determined to provoke violence". Today, the RSS runs the world's most exciting emerging market, which global hedge fund manager Jim Rogers just quit, lock, stock and barrel. In a country of a 172 million Muslims, not one occupies the BJP's 282 seats in the Lok Sabha. Are you really surprised?

The RSS -- registered as a charitable, social and cultural organisation -- has perceptible political intent; the five-year window is a litmus test to see a social transformation; the "Indianisation" process. Modi needs to earn saffron stripes for foot soldiers for the 2019 elections. A quid pro quo deal exists, so India's prime institutions are up for RSS infiltration -- FTII, NCERT, UGC, ICHR, NBT, CFS, IITs, IIMs etc. Rahul Gandhi called the RSS a non-state actor, whose hand in Samjhauta Express and Malegaon blasts etc are still smouldering into the twilight sky. Don't forget: Modi's Gujarat government had legally contested Sachar Committee recommendations to help Muslim minorities as an unconstitutional diktat. The RSS were naturally pleased with their former illustrious pracharak. The decision to idolise Sardar Patel, who banned the RSS, revealed the consummate sinister capabilities of the RSS/BJP to hijack history and market a disingenuous debate. When Mohan Bhagwat spoke to the country using the state broadcaster Doordarshan last year, Modi in essence publicly admitted who his political guardians were going to be.

"When a state starts to treat its vulnerable minorities with recurring hate-speeches from its party members, periodic threats and institutionalised demonising, we are creating conditions for a dangerous explosion."

There are several concomitant developments that manifest a calibrated political strategy to create a polarised society. The unlimited supply of vitriol from Giriraj Singh, Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Jyoti, Yogi Adityanath etc keep the pot-boiling at intermittent intervals, a constant reminder that the core agenda is never too far away. In Bihar, 670 communal disturbances have occurred since BJP parted ways with Nitish Kumar - it cannot be a mere coincidence. Is the BJP and the PM endorsing the repeat of the Muzaffarnagar model ? The targeting of Vice President Hamid Ansari by Ram Madhav on Yoga Day was an abysmal low. A twisted argument to alter Nehru Memorial Museum by adding Hindutva icons reveals RSS-BJP's paranoia about the enduring popularity of the man who championed secular democracy. Dismantling Nehru is their favourite obsession.

When a state starts to treat its vulnerable minorities with recurring hate-speeches from its party members, periodic threats and institutionalised demonising, we are creating conditions for a dangerous explosion. In the age of social media that can have destructive repercussions. It is a recipe for a communal conflagration. We have never been more polarised as a nation, as we are now. Noted author Mukul Kesavan says, "Hindutva is a bid to take over the State in the name of the Hindu majority. It is a coup in slow motion". Right now, let there be no mistake, it is gathering speed.

The RSS and BJP have an inalienable umbilical cord, a retrograde, regressive majoritarian construct in mind, and prescriptions based on religious identity for India, from which a comeback might take an exponentially longer time. A susceptible demographic dividend that can be easily influenced is their low-hanging fruit. Honestly, Nagpur should be the new capital of India. Then even a remote control becomes redundant.

The author is National Spokesperson of the Indian National Congress party. The views are his own.

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