Mainstream, VOL. 52, No. 21, May 17, 2014
Election 2014: RSS Swallows the Great Indian Media!
Monday 19 May 2014, by
This article was written sometime ago and should have appeared before the end of the election process (on May 12, 2014) but it could not be published in the previous week due to space constraints. It is now being published as its contents have not yet lost their relevance.
At the fag end of the last millennium, CPI-M General Secretary H.K.S. Surjeet was working in tandem with Subramanian Swamy to bring down the first NDA Government. In those days, the main warhead of their coup, Madam Jayalalithaa, was facing corruption cases. So, some of us, still-young journalists, confronted Surjeet with the question whether in his view corruption was less dangerous than communa-lism in building a credible democracy. The veteran leader defended his position, dishing out the argument that corruption could be fought over a long period and it was never too late to wage a war against it while communa-lism can cripple a country within a very short span.
Even then I was not comfortable with it. And now, after another fifteen years, Surjeet is not alive to see how unbridled corruption and loot (allowed and encouraged by the government of Manmohan Singh) has created a perfect ambience for the propping up of the communal force by the elite and the big media they run.
Surjeet succeeded to dislodge the government all right. But, despite all his manoeuvrings from a closed corner of his party office, he failed to stop Atal Behari Vajpayee from returning to power in the winter of 1999, that too with a bigger number of seats. It endowed the RSS with the USP they were searching for so long to sell their communal agenda that the majority of Hindus had rejected for decades.
The USP was simple: form an ‘outer shell of secular development-oriented politics’ (as represented by Vajpayee) to cover up the ‘core saffron’ (as represented, at that time, by Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Ashok Singhal and various sadhus or mohantas, and also different senas). The thrust on development was for luring the secular Hindu, while the pure saffron was for assuring the core support-base that the ‘parivar’ was not, in reality, deviating from militant Hindutva. When both the layers work in tandem, the outcome is maximised.
Happy with the discovery, the top brass of the RSS now started planning for its repeated application in States and at the Union level. In the new millennium, as Surjeet and all the Communists like him concentrated on ways of compromising with the neo-liberals, the RSS went ahead to have new experiments to make the BJP the first force in the country.
Rise of the Real Communal Face
Vajpayee was a moderate Hindutvavadi who, to a large extent, blocked implementation of the communal agenda of the RSS. He even sought to throw Narendra Modi out of office after the 2002 riots (massacre of Muslims could be a better expression). His clarion call to Modi to perform ‘rajdharma’ will ever remain a milestone in the complicated ‘same party rule at State and the Union levels’ situation. Now, ‘rajdharma’ is to protect the people without differentiating between communities on the basis of caste, language or religion, and evidently Vajpayee had to refer to it to bring the State Government back on the track of secular governance.
Every intelligent person knows, no one needs to be reminded of something that he is doing, and Vajpayee was no fool to do so. His statement made it clear he knew the CM was not performing ‘rajdharma’. The significance of this utterance can be lost only on those who are rabidly communal, like the followers of the semi-political-semi-social outfit, the RSS, and its ‘parivar’. In fact, Vajpayee’s utterances made it clear that he would not allow the ‘core saffron’ to raise its ugly head at the national level.
Like most of the liberal mass leaders, Vajpayee lacked in strength to counter the pressure of his party organisation. Despite his best attempts, Modi remained firm on saddle. The cause of Vajpayee’s failure was simple. After successfully presiding over the massacre of thousands of Muslims, Modi had become an icon of the ‘parivar’. So, the RSS front-man in the BJP, Lal Krishna Advani, could easily frustrate Vajpayee’s endea-vour to give his government a true secular character by removing Modi. A small figure in politics before the massacre, Modi emerged a mass leader in 2002. And like the ordinary corrupt criminals, the RSS took shelter behind the mischievous argument that Modi had been exonerated by being re-elected to power.
Essentially, for the RSS, it was a symbolic victory of ‘core saffron’ over the ‘outer shell of secular development-oriented politics’. It could happen like this because the BJP is not a conventional party. It is an outfit of the RSS, the Hindu chauvinists, who decide on crucial policy matters without bothering about the obligation of getting elected to acquire the right to do so. Though in the BJP’s list of candidates people from the VHP and other organisations of the parivar dig in, the RSS top brass never fight elections. They love to control everything through remote instruments. But only the PM refused to be a toy in the RSS’ hand, and so they insulted him by not letting him touch Modi.
Blessed with high political intelligence as he is, Modi however knew his limitations. He knew 2002 might one day get him votes, nationally speaking, of about one-fourth of the Hindus who had voted for the BJP fairly regularly since 1991. But, he also knew, it would not give him respectability or a wider support required to go to the top. With the communal mind of the majority community, as well as some loyal lieutenants like Amit Shah (who, in his own language, is a bowler who at times delivers a ‘no-ball’) firmly by his side, he now took the second step to catapult his communal achieve-ment to fulfil his national ambition. The path was well-drawn-out according to the USP the RSS had discovered in 1999. He started wooing the industry, the big ones who are the real boss of the big media. Incidentally, the media was very important for him, for the Goebbelsian method of turning lies and half-truths to truths calls for partnership of the media to succeed in modern times. Particularly the partnership of the television channels.
Modi still needed time to establish him firmly in Gujarat so that after about a decade he could set out to fulfil his (and the RSS’) national ambition. Meanwhile, the Vajpayee Government lost out in 2004 (and Vajpayee felt one of the reasons of the defeat could be the 2002 massacre), and as Vajpayee walked into the sunset zone, the RSS threw its weight behind its old favourite Advani, the hero of the Ram Mandir movement. But somehow an older Advani was not willing to play the RSS game going the whole hog. Perhaps, like Vajpayee, deep in his mind he too believed 2002 had damaged their national prospect in 2004. Now, as the unparalleled leader of the BJP, Advani found the top brass of the RSS as his contemporary or junior to him, and instead of yielding before them he now tried to fashion himself upon Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Like Jinnah, who had called for ‘direct action’, Advani too had presided over demolition of the historic Babri mosque, an act the parallel of which in recent times can be found only in the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban. So Advani described Jinnah as ‘secular’, if only to send a message that a communal politician can transcend himself to the status of a secular one. Immediately, some journalists and editors agreed with this proposition. In fact, that was the first sign that any day the elite and the mainstream media run by them might switch over to the RSS-BJP camp. Surely that emboldened the RSS.
But Advani failed in 2009. Some social security measures like hundred days work (MGNREGA) brought the UPA back to power, and Advani’s ‘secular’ attacks, though rightly directed against a weak Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, did not stick. The media too was leaning towards Manmohan Singh for his pro-rich policies, and they (particularly the Rightist papers like The Indian Express) projected it as a great victory though the NDA failed to get even a simple majority. Singh too returned the favour by opening the economy even more and allowing FDI in the retail sector.
The failure of the so-called ‘iron man’ of the BJP brought home a crucial point that the RSS leaders did not miss. Without inciting religious passion in the minds of the Hindus, the BJP cannot expect to steer the National Democratic Front (NDA) towards a good majority. They knew what they needed was a two-in-one package of rabid Hindutva and pro-reform smartness. So, they dumped Advani, and picked up the man whose very face would ever remain a constant reminder of the most militant (read barbaric) version of Hindutva. There was only one such man available in the country, and that was Modi. Now the RSS bosses started working hard to market him as he had the required USP. Unlike Vajpayee or the old Advani, he himself combined in him both the ‘saffron core’ and the ‘outer shell of secular development-oriented politics’. Starting from 2004-05, Modi had given enough concessions and undue favours (like giving Adani near about 15 thousand acres at a price of Rs 1.35 per square metre) to the industry in Gujarat to become their darling. The super rich had realised this man could serve them even better than Manmohan Singh who, under duress, was often serving the needs of basic humanity like providing food for all the hungry people. Rahul Gandhi, seemingly, stood more Left-of-Centre, and so the vast majority of the super-rich community decided to back Modi.
Thus he became the best bet the RSS ever had. Now it was incumbent upon the media to do the rest.
The media had to be managed because the RSS bosses knew Modi could not tie the loose ends. Even if given benefit of doubt on the issue of his direct involvement in the Massacre of 2002, he cannot explain why he failed to anticipate what would be the fallout of it in his sensitive State and take measures accordingly. Any able administrator would have understood what would be its repercussion, and taken emergency steps to protect the innocent Muslims from the Hindu backlash. Modi failed miserably to do so. That leads us to the simple conclusion that either he was involved or else he showed extreme inefficiency in handling a critical situation. Logic says such a poor administrator does not qualify for the post of the PM. Again, the RSS knew he could not explain the contours of the Gujarat model and its difference from Manmohanomics (essentially following the open-door economic policy without protecting the interests of the indigenous population, making arrangements to allow the super rich to loot the natural resources, and some such other steps only to augment higher growth rate that makes the rich richer without benefiting two-thirds of the population). Again, the RSS knew what Modi had meant when he dubbed himself as a Hindu Nationalist. The list is long, from various encounter killings to allegations of stalking a woman, or the sale of liquor worth allegedly rupees thirty thousand crores in Gujarat where prohibition is on.
But, along with it, the RSS bosses also knew that the media-captains as an integral part of the elite society were gullible, and many of the media-captains and their lieutenants could be managed. With Ambani and Adani by its side, the RSS could plan it easily.
But the RSS knew the media or the elite would not reach the lower layers of the society, that is, at least half the population. So now they came up with what they had planned for long. Just in the nick of time came the riots in Muzaffarnagar. In a recent sting operation by Cobra Post we have heard Sakshi Maharaj quoting Ashok Singhal saying ‘unless some Hindus die’ the (Ram Janmabhoomi) movement would not get a fillip. Extrapolating the same logic to present-day UP, we find In Muzaffar-nagar some Hindus died in the riots and now it is giving the BJP a fillip, not only in the Muslim and Jat-dominated western parts of the State, but in the entire State. Things are falling in place. Quite significantly, Modi found no seat in UP other than the Hindu holy city of Varanasi to contest from. And equally significant was the fact that Modi had chosen his Man Friday, Amit Shah, to spearhead his campaign in UP. This man and his whole team and the RSS-‘sevaks’ were inciting communal passion by ‘badla’ rants for months together. All these things happened in UP, and also in Bihar (Giriraj Singh is from Bihar), because if the NDA had to get 250, it had to divide UP and Bihar communally to get more than two-thirds of the total 120 seats these two States have. This was much, much beyond what it could have got otherwise. So, as the election started the ilk of Amit Shah, Giriraj Singh, and Pravin Togadia (with his ‘drive out Muslims from Hindu areas’ rant), the Shiv Sena, all of them came together to strengthen the saffron core.
Thus, the RSS has successfully prepared the stage for its third operation in three decades. In 1992, the Babri mosque was demolished with active help of the State Government. The Liber-han Commission’s report said: “December 6, 1992 saw the State of Uttar Pradesh unwilling and unable to uphold the majesty of the law. The ennui flowed from the very office of the Chief Minister downwards and infected the minions down till the bottom. The State had become a willing ally and co-conspirator in the joint common enterprise to announce the revival of a rabid breed of Hindutva.” Ten years later, in the same fashion a massacre of Muslims took place in Gujarat after a ghastly murder of kar sevaks in a train. Here also ennui, for two days, flowed from the office of the CM. So, after 1992 and 2002, the next operation had to be in 2012. But as the election was to be held in 2014, and as the RSS had foreseen its diabolical game-plan succeeding, it decided to wait.
During this period of wait, the RSS bosses concentrated on Modi, Money (to flow from the pockets of the super rich) and Media. Modi has always acted as an RSS man, either by heart or by compulsion. Money the RSS could not arrange, but Modi and a few others of the BJP could manage that. Now, the media was to be managed. And they managed it so excellently thst many RSS men now believe (and I urge the readers to talk to their friends in the RSS on this point to get the feel of the real) that the elite, who are not so naïve to believe that Modi can be separated from Hindutva, have endorsed Hindutva.
Preparing the Ground: Media Campaign against AAP
The main criticism against Manmohan Singh stemmed from the widespread and unparalleled corruption the country faced in the last ten years. So, the real alternative to it could have been the political force and individuals who had fought against corruption. The AAP is such a party, and the belt consisting of Delhi-Haryana-Punjab and Western UP is the right place to launch a crusade against corruption. But, as far the media is concerned, if it had to demolish the façade of neutrality, it could have done so in favour of the crusaders against corruption. But the role the media (mainly the electronic media, and to be specific all the English and a large number of vernacular channels, and some of the news-papers) played, better to say a combination of the ‘parivar’ and the top echelons of the super rich made them play, in promoting ‘Brand Modi’ will be remembered as the lowest point of Indian journalism since Independence. It was not limited to support to the industry-Modi-RSS triumvirate. It went far ahead and started distorting the presentation of news and analysis and surveys. They carried on propagating, falsely, the superiority of an amorphous, never-defined Gujarat model of development that had, as they claimed, inspired a ‘new aspirational middle class’ (never offering what this model is or daring to give the true picture of Gujarat, particularly its dismal human development index vis-à-vis its good, but not the best, growth story). The media just echoed the words the RSS had planted for the last few years. This lie-campaign conducted by individuals known as great journalists swayed the minds of millions of unsuspecting urban and semi-urban people.
The media has worked in stages to promote Modi. After establishing the superiority of an imaginary Gujarat model, from February they began to build the myth of the Modi wave.
It is rumoured that the invisible hand that now makes the famous anchors dance to its tune encouraged the rise of the AAP hoping it would put the last nail in the coffin of the corrupt Congress. The intention was to make way for claiming a Modi wave after a clean sweep in four States six months before the national election. The tactics boomeranged, as the AAP not only trounced the Congress but also blocked the BJP in the most prestigious Indian State of Delhi (evidently the Gujarat model was rejected by the ‘new aspirational middle class’ of the Capital). Later on it went ahead to form the government. Now, the diktat was to malign the AAP and Kejriwal in every possible way. The media run by big money and big names in journalism, was happy to abide by it, as by then the indications were clear that the AAP would not only challenge the corrupt establish-ment theoretically, but would soon chuck stones at all the hives of corruption.
The AAP’s first face-off with the establish-ment was about controlling and reforming the police system in Delhi by Arvind Kejriwal’s government. The spin given by the media was that the ‘dharna’ was the fallout of Somnath Bharti’s Khidki village offensive, though what Kejriwal demanded was not for suspension of one SHO, but two of them (surely the other could not have the remotest connection with what happened in Khidki) along with two ACPs. A vast majority of the media stooped so low as to never mention the other incident that too was central to the agitation: punishing the policemen guilty of not taking action against those who had burned alive a young woman for failing to pay dowry as demanded by the in-laws. Not that they were not aware of this incident; the incident and the AAP’s reaction to it was reported in the media. For example, read this: “Another Minister, Rakhi Birla, has accused the Sagarpur Police of shielding members of a family who allegedly burnt their daughter-in-law over dowry demands.” (The Indian Express, January 18, 2014) Again anyone may visit Indiatvnews.com to know some more details on this, for example, the deceased woman’s son stating that he saw his grandma and aunt setting on fire his mother. Or one may visit youtube.com (/watch? vv=8Tyfn EAeohE) to see the video dated January 14 to have information on the incident. We know why the police often does not act against the culprits. We know what their consideration is. But why did the media censor such a grim incident? So that the people’s sympathy does not accrue to the AAP? Surely, they did not want to, or perhaps were not allowed to, shift focus on anything else than Somnath Bharti. So, that unfortunate dead woman’s cry for justice became a collateral damage in the elite’s war against Team Kejriwal.
I am not sure of Somnath Bharti’s actual role in Khidki, because I have not come across any documentary evidence of what happened there. I am confused because almost every permanent resident of the area (as we witnessed in Sagarika Ghosh’s programme at Khidki after the incident) was supportive of Somnath. Still, to say the least, I feel Somnath’s was an example of over-activism. But strangely, the media carried on just a propaganda—plain and simple propa-ganda—that Somnath Bharti manhandled women, without ever showing a single photo, video or still whatever, of the incident of manhandling. They rejected what hundreds of the locals said, and were convinced the foreign women (who the locals claimed were involved in drug peddling) were incarnations of Yudhis-thir. It could have called to the mind of the viewer the notorious principle of repeating a lie many a time to give it the mask of truth. However, lack of evidence did not dampen the spirit of many women’s organisations and even Commissions run by people’s money from spewing deadly fire against Somnath. Ironically, none of those activists—large-hearted and self-sacrificing as they are, dedicated to the cause of the women—raised the issue of the burnt-alive woman even once. What a great sacrifice for a cause!
The AAP soon started naming the corrupt, thereby breaking the ‘omerta’, in our context the well-established convention of not identi-fying the top men (in politics, business, adminis-tration, journalism and so on) involved neck-deep in corruption. And this was happening, naming the persons, at a time when top industries had started blessing the big media hugely to project a huge wave for Modi. Curiously, almost none of the men the AAP named dared to lodge a case against them. But surely the whole establishment was threatened. This was, for the super rich, real anarchy, as it threatened their very existence. Ditto is true for an overwhelming section of the elite, including many of the mediapersons.
But the AAP went ahead to expose the big industrialists and their cohorts. Their naming Ambani and Adani and some others, lodging an FIR against Ambani and Verappa Moily for rigging the oil prices, and justified attack against the corrupt section of the media sent alarm bells ringing in the establishment. The media tried to black out the AAP from the eyes of the people by not covering it, but the AAP kept on stirring the hornet’s nest. And then the desperate media-men stooped lower. When some miscreants threw ink and egg on Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi, they became ‘protesters’ in their narration. It was evident that the media has sold its soul to the authoritarian masters. It was now in a bitter fight with the AAP, because the latter was tearing apart Modi and his cohorts and the Gujarat model.
At the end, as the polling started, the big media opted for a final clampdown against the AAP by stopping to cover them. Nothing new, earlier too they have played the same game with the parties representing the interest of the underprivileged classes and castes. Parties like the BSP (and long before that, the Communists) have lived with either no coverage or constant negative coverage of the media, and now the AAP will have to live with it. The Communists lived with it for five decades after independence, and then gradually started succumbing to the pressure of the mouthpieces of the super rich. Fifteen years on, and remember these fifteen years have seen firing on farmers at Nandigram by a so-called Communist Government, and they are almost finished. The BSP has survived it till now, and is expected to make this electoral battle a rather straight fight between it and the BJP in half of the Lok Sabha constituencies in UP. The Trinamul Congress has faced the same wrath of the big media (and in retaliation has created quite a few small pro-Trinamul media), but has not changed its policy of opposition to loot by robbing the poor (for example, foreign investment in retail). The AAP, still now a party of the intellectuals with large support among the middle class and poor, will have to live with it to remain true to the cause.
Brazen, Unethical Journalism to give Modi a Boost
But, the AAP is a minor player in this election and if it can win ten seats that would be considered a brilliant performance (probably they could have emerged as the third largest force if the election was scheduled at least a year later). What has become an ominous sign is the mindset of the mediamen, as they have started shifting the goalposts (whereby miscre-ants are being glorified as protesters). And this is happening at the behest of a parivar that believes, as Balbir Punj has said on record, that ‘what Modi says is our manifesto’. The man at the centre of the dreams of the ‘new aspirational middle class’ has humiliated the senior leaders of the BJP, including the men who built the party for him, like Advani, M.M. Joshi and Jaswant Singh. His patience broke when no one raised for him his favourite slogan ‘Kamal our Modi’, forcing him to raise it himself. Anyone who has some sense of history can relate these with some other people’s rise in different countries in the last century. But the media behaved in a way as though all these are of no significance.
Forget all these. Modi is a man who did not give his wife the due recognition she deserved. And if this is personal (what will happen if, as the PM, he travels abroad and the foreign press ask why have you not brought your wife along, as is the convention?), then Robert Vadra making money is also personal. But the media that feigns to be great champions of women’s rights decided not to highlight it in any way. They know there is no answer to a simple question: can we rely on a man who has failed to take responsibility of the woman he had married (a responsible eighteen-year-old is expected to flee house just before the marriage if he does not want to get tied up). The media just abdicated their responsibility by saying she was out on pilgrimage. Surely for pilgrimage she has not gone to Mars that she could not be located.
The top media guys could not act in any other fashion for their souls were sold out, and the only way left was that of brazening it out.
This brazening out became more acute as the election advanced. When the AAP and Congress punctured holes in the claim of superiority of a non-existent Gujarat model, the TV anchors started throwing their hands and feet shouting ‘this is not a Gujarat election, this is not relevant’. Great amusement, indeed.
Now, they started seeing a ‘wave’ for Modi everywhere, though no more than one-third of those who will visit the booths are expected to vote for ‘Kamal aur Modi’. Assuming two-thirds of the voters will care to cast their votes, out of nine voters only two will vote for Modi (even if the NDA gets an impossible fifty per cent vote, still only one in three are voting for them). It really calls for a genius in the studio to see a wave for Modi in this situation. But, the demoralised and corrupt Congress could not take on the fraudulent media, for they lacked the guts.. And as the poll started, a famous anchor jumped up to see a wave after a bump (rise of voting percentage by five) without any scientific basis,
During the campaign period, the media-persons had asked time and again the most idiotic question: why was communalism being brought in when Modi was focusing on gover-nance only? Feigning to be so naive as to think Indian history has started from 2014 can be widely acclaimed in a stand-up comedy, but the news channels are supposed to be something else. The very expression ‘past is past’ is the last recourse of all the scoundrels of all times. But our mediamen took recourse to that idea in a way as though soon in India a killer would go unpunished if he claimed he had undergone change of heart.
These mediamen attached no importance to the fact that Amit Shah had been made the in-charge of UP by Modi. Might be, for them Amit Shah too has undergone an imaginary change and has become a great ‘pluralist’. They never covered how in UP for months the RSS volunteers and Shah were stoking communal passions. They could not, for they were dictated to concentrate on the hate-speech by the parties that stood in opposition to the BJP, and on showing a Modi wave.
The long list of the misdeeds of the partisan media will take many more pages. But even this short list cannot be complete without the media’s role in creating the wave. Their surveys projected, a couple of months before the polls, that the NDA would get about 210-220. They knew to come to this figure they would have to peg the BJP at about 30 in UP and 20 in Bihar. They did the needful even when, in Bihar, the BJP was desperate to find new allies like Paswans and Nishads to adjust the caste equation, and in UP could not finalise on a safe seat for Modi! And after projecting this, they tried to convince viewers a good chance of a Modi Government by showing Jayalalithaa, and unbelievably, even Mamata Banerjee (one-fourth of the voters of Bengal are Muslims) as the ones to lend support to Modi after the election. The anchors argued, why not, because Mamata had lent a hand to A.B. Vajpayee. Thus they equated Vajpayee with Modi, as though Vajpayee too had presided over a massacre in some unknown Indian State, as though Vajpayee had said ‘hum do, hamarapachhis, that too in reference to a pathetic camp where the riot victims were living’.
Realising their arguments did not sound convincing, a month later they all raised the bar to make it 230-235. Now seats were added to the BJP and NDA list from some impossible corners. And in the last survey, a couple of days before the month-long polling started, most of them pegged it at about 255. Someone gave the BJP 40-45 in UP and raised the numbers in some other States. Some other survey gave 54 in UP! Later one channel, desperate to show a clean and clear majority for the NDA, gave it more than 272, and the survey report was shown, in utter disregard to the sanctity of a democratic system, when the phased polling process was on. The same channel that had telecast this historic survey is also hosting a programme the name of which has strong allusion to Modi’s campaign that he was a chai-wallah. And, in one episode, taking advantage of her licence to comment on anything, the host of the show did her best to dishearten all AAP supporters (about one-fourth of those who she met in the eatery) by sermonising that the AAP was not a serious contender. This was something new: the transformation of a journalist from being an observer to an activist out in the field to influence people not to discuss the prospect of one political party. A new standard of journalism, indeed.
The BJP raised the slogan of ‘akhand bharat’ in its manifesto. Anyone having some knowledge of the RSS knows what this signifies, but the media decided not to raise any question on it (like who was trying to balkanise India). They reported on the BJP’s dour ‘anthem’ only when the ‘parivar’ decided to drop it, perhaps to shower praise on Modi. “The anthem’s line spoken by Modi — ‘main desh nahin jhukne dunga...main desh nahin mitne dunga’ (I will not let the nation bow down/ be rubbed out)— are seen as needlessly dire and apocalyptic.” (The Times of India, April 21, 2014) But, strangely, before the BJP dropped it, no media said it was ‘dire and apocalyptic’.
The half—truths and lies propagated by the media got exposed further when the BJP’s manifesto spoke of building the Ram temple at the site through constitutional means (that is, through the legal-legislative route, the only route available). As though they are ill-informed and fools, the mediamen wrote that by having just one sentence on the temple issue, the BJP under Modi has diluted it. However, the sentence in 2014 is more elaborate (“The BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”) than what was written in 2004 (“The BJP reaffirms its commitment to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.”). Again, this time the statement is, at the core, not much different from what was written in 1998 (“The BJP is committed to facilitate the construction of a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Ram Janmas-than in Ayodhya where a makeshift temple already exists. Shri Ram lies at the core of Indian consciousness. The BJP will explore all consensual, legal and constitutional means to facilitate the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.”) or what was written in 2009 (“There is an overwhelming desire of the people in India and abroad to have a grand temple at the birthplace of Sri Ram in Ayodhya. The BJP will explore all possibilities, including negotia-tions and judicial proceedings, to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”).
We understand why the media (both electronic and print) called it a dilution. We know they were dictated to write this. But what seems strange is how the Election Commission is allowing this in a country the Constitution of which has defined the state as a ‘secular’ one.
The Danger is Looming Large
We have seen the demise of the great Indian media in this election, and the rise of the pro-Modi partisan media in its place. True, some people from within the media fought against it and kept the print media in general less biased than the electronic media, but their impact was limited. That has considerably weakened the mechanisms of a democratic society. The fourth pillar has either sold itself out, or has chosen to tie its luck with the RSS-Modi-super-rich triumvirate and brazen it out. If this did not happen, the BJP would have got something like 160, and the NDA would have scored something like 185-90. Taking into account how the Congress cowered before the electorate and lost the threads of the campaign points, and making place for a normal media hype for a Rightist, one may say Modi’s BJP could have gone up to 180, and the NDA 210-15. But the continuous drumming and humming of a Modi wave and flaunting of a non-existent ‘secular’ development model has influenced many in the urban and semi-urban areas. The dishonest and partisan role of the media (along with huge failure of the ‘anti-people’ Congress) has helped to score, perhaps, at least 30-40 more, and the NDA may now get something between 220 and 230. However, if the poison tree of communal polarisation bears fruit, no one knows what would happen in UP from where the BJP would have won, at the most, 20-25 seats in a normal situation. The surge (compared to 2009) in the number would have been a simple urge of the non-dominant OBCs to vote for a man from the non-dominant OBC. But now, it has all become convoluted.
After the surrender of the media, the responsi-bility of safeguarding people’s freedom and rights is in the hands of the judiciary alone. Every party has done its bit to weaken the institutions (like the CAG or Election Commission), and after the surrender of the media it seems majoritism (the idea that one can do anything as one has got majority in the Assembly or Parliament) is shaping up as a major danger for Indian democracy.
I am sure that Narendra Modi, if he a becomes PM, if at all, would follow a more pro-rich path than Manmohan Singh’s. What I am not sure of is whether he would like to follow Vajpayee’s course in keeping the system as much ‘secular’ as it still is, or tilt the governance heavily towards ‘Hindutva’. But the real danger is the RSS and its ‘parivar’, including a large part of the BJP, and the long reach of its tentacles. After taming the media, the Hindutva forces will surely be much more enthused to make India a total ‘Hindu Rashtra’, in the same sense as Pakistan is an Islamic state. The journey towards it, if the Modi-Ambani-Adni combination so desires, will surely be supported by the great Indian media and a larger intellectual section. That will be a journey towards medieval darkness.
The danger is what Praveen Togadia has said in simple terms: “When we are in majority, we should have the courage to intimidate them by taking law in our hands” (April 19) Modi had distanced himself from such utterances, but the BJP has not disowned the VHP. Giriraj Singh has not been grounded by the BJP. So Modi’s distancing from the ‘saffron core’ can be just part of a double-game. But there is no guarantee that even if it is genuine he will have control over the saffron core. During Vajpayee’s tenure he had played the saffron core, and in his tenure someone else will. When history starts repeating itself thus, it finally leads to disaster.
We are in this situation because of the callous, insensitive government of Manmohan Singh. Human greed and increasing inequality can destroy any country. Ten years of UPA rule has unleashed the demon of greed and is finally being swallowed by it. I hope, if Surjeet was alive today, the same Surjeet who rendered unquali-fied support to Manmohan Singh, he would have revisited his theory of communalism being more dangerous than corruption. After all, the great danger of 2014, the insidious spread of the RSS agenda threatening the secure future of India as a modern country, has stemmed from unbridled corruption and greed.
Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a freelance journalist and author. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org