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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 22, May 23, 2015

Aping the Adversary

Friday 22 May 2015, by Nikhil Chakravartty

From N.C.’s Writings

It is surprising how intelligent people in politics sometimes take up positions which should logically belong to their adversaries.

The Muslim League in 1940 picked up the so-called ‘two-nation theory’ which a bunch of extremist intellectuals had first coined to back up their demand for Pakistan. Other parties in India rejected it. The Congress made it clear that it did not accept the theory itself though it agreed to the partitioning of the country on the basis of the very same two-nation theory. By implications, Pakistan is supposed to belong to the Muslim nation, and therefore there could possibly be no equality between the master community, the Mussalman, and the subject community, the Hindu, in Pakistan. Hence, the rulers of Pakistan were party to the forcible exit of millions of Hindus from Pakistan, the larger number from the west than in the east—despite Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Pakistan Parliament on the very morrow of the partition in which he had said that in the new state of Pakistan, all citizens would be equal irrespective of community, race or creed—a speech which was quietly given a rather indecent burial by those who ruled Pakistan.

This idea of dividing the people according to their community identity, is now taken up, of all the people, by the BJP, which claims to be an implacable adversary of Pakistan. In its stand on the large body of people crossing into India from Bangladesh in recent months, the BJP has no objection whatsoever to the Hindu migrants, but wants the Muslim migrants to be thrown back into Bangladesh. The leaders of the BJP are intelligent people, at least most of them. They know perfectly well that this continuous exodus of Bangladeshis into India is due to the fact that their country is one of the worst poverty-stricken countries in the world. In fact, Bangladesh is included in the UN categorisation, in the LDCs—the Least Developed Countries which are entitled to special care. The BJP leaders know all this. They could have raised the question of Bangladeshi exodus as a regional and international phenomenon—an excellent issue for the SAARC to take up. Instead, they have made it an exclusively communal issue, to damn the Muslim community.

And justifying this clamour to force the Muslim migrants back into Bangladesh, they have raised a hair-raising theory, namely, that these Muslim migrants from Bangladesh settling down in the border districts contiguous to Bangladesh, are changing the demographic pattern of these districts, and in another ten years, these would thus be Muslim-majority districts of India, which the Bangladeshis would demand as part of their country on the strength of the two-nation theory and so we would be forced into another partition of this country. The plain and simple fact is that a Muslim must not be treated with trust under the BJP lexicon, and so has to be thrown out of the country.

Incidentally, the Akhand Hindustan slogan, which the BJP’s political ancestor, the Jana Sangh, had raised, is now quietly given up. It may be due to a realistic understanding that an entire state can hardly be expected to be liquidated at the call of the BJP; but this abandoning of the slogan to undo the partition of 1947 might be due to the realisation that in an Akhand Hindustan, there would be many more Muslims to be tackled than in the partitioned India. For, Akhand Hindustan would mean not only the liquidation of Pakistan but Bangladesh as well—which, if realised, would mean an enormous increase in the number of Muslims to live with. Obviously, the party which is getting het up at the exodus of several lakh Muslims from Bangladesh, would be aghast at the arrival of several crores, posing a threat to the ideal of Hindutva.

If we look carefully, the swift demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6—which the BJP has, for all practical purposes, welcomed, as nobody among its leaders barring Atal Behari Vajpayee has expressed even a word of regret at this violation of the pledged word by the party’s Ministry in UP—is in keeping with the style of violent bigotry which they ascribe to Emperor Babur’s lieutenant Mir Baqi. By the official BJP stand, Mir Baqi had committed a sacrilege by destroying a place of worship of the Hindus and built another structure at that very spot, meant for the worship of Muslims, namely, the Babri Masjid. This was supposed to have taken place five hundred years ago. Now in the year 1992, the kar sevaks, at the call of the BJP, arrived at Ayodhya and swiftly followed the very same procedure of Mir Baqi which the BJP leaders have always condemned, namely, replacing by violence the place of worship of one community by another place of worship of another community. What Mir Baqi did five hundred years ago has been faithfully followed now by the kar sevaks following the BJP call—this, like Mir Baqi, destroyed a place of worship to build another belonging to a different community. Mir Baqi would have understood the glory of Sadhvi Rithambhara’s ecstasy in the afternoon of December 6, 1992.

Another anomaly in the BJP propaganda—which must be awkward for the leaders of the party with a modern outlook—is the campaign that the Muslim community is furiously increasing its number because it permits a man to marry and keep as many as four wives at a time. By this device, the BJP leaders in their propaganda say, the Muslim community’s demographic position will soon change and thereby presumably India, or a good part of it, will form into a Muslim-majority region—that is, ripe for another Pakistan. I can understand a Christian leader working up such a spectre, but coming from devout Hindu leaders for whom every word in the scriptures and epics is sacred, it is odd to hear about the danger of polygamy. Because, most of the Hindu gods and kings had more than one wife. In fact, they had many more than four—quite often scores. Lord Ram’s revered father, King Dasarath, had as many as four wives, and it was because of his promise to one of the four, that he had to banish, Ram, and died heart-broken. It is worth noting that the ancestors of the BJP leaders in Parliament, those who were like-minded, opposed the Hindu marriage legislation in the fifties. For the BJP leaders, polygamy should not be a taboo to be run down. So, why pick on the Muslims for their religion permitting four wives at a time?

The BJP leaders strive to assure the Muslim community that under their dispensation, the minorty community would be looked after and not persecuted. They even claim that the Muslim community on its own would respond to such assurances from the BJP, but it is the Congress and the so-called pseudo-secularists who have been spreading poison to vitiate and mislead the Muslims to look upon the BJP as their enemy. In proof of their claim, the BJP leaders often publicise the point that wherever a State has come under BJP rule, the incidence of communal rioting has spectacularly gone down. At the same time, not a single BJP leader has even mildly criticised the Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s vitriolic call for pogrom against the Muslim community. Rather, when asked, the BJP leaders claim that the alliance of the BJP with the Shiv Sena persists and would remain. BJP leader Advani visited Bombay after the Shiv Sena’s pogrom campaign in January which ended up in a horrendous outburst of mob violence along communal lines.

Lal Krishna Advani, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Murli Manohar Joshi, Govindacharya and many others in the BJP leadership are mature politicians. Do they seriously believe that the Muslims would feel safe under their dispensation after having seen the BJP sticking on to its alliance with the Shiv Sena, the designer and executor of the first genuine pogrom of an entire community in this country?

Grant for a change, Joshiji, that the Muslim has at least a morsel of common sense. After finding you in the Shiv Sena’s company, would any Muslim in his senses feel comfortable under your care?

Mainstream, April 24, 1993