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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 43 New Delhi October 17, 2015

Rise of the Hindu Right

Monday 19 October 2015

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

In the competitive radicalism of the Hindu Right the Shiv Sena is trying to upstage the Sangh Parivar. The latest instance of this is blackening the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a close associate of senior BJP lealder Lal Krishna Advani. Kulkarni’s ‘crime’ was to invite former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri to launch his book, Neither a Hawk nor a Dove, in Mumbai. The function was organised by the Observer Research Foundation of Mukesh Ambani. Not only was Kulkarni’s face blackened, he was compared to Ajmal Kasab who was one of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group of terrorists which carried out the serial terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. Such an odious comparison is possible only when one has totally lost one’s common sense and all sense of proportion and propriety.

Kasuri came to India on a valid visa issued by the Government of India of which Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister. If the Shiv Sena felt so strongly about the invitation to Kasuri, it should have communicated its stand to the Prime Minister and the BJP. The Shiv Sena is a partner of the BJP in the alliance government which is ruling Maharashtra. The Sena could have walked out of the government in protest. As a member of the ruling alliance can it disown its responsibility for what half-a-dozen or so Shiv Sainiks did to Kulkarni? Positively not.

The targeting of Kulkarni is not an isolated incident. It is of a piece with a series of incidents which have taken place since the BJP came to power at the Centre—from the vandalising of churches to ghar wapsi of Christians into the Hindu fold to the targeted killing of rationalists, atheists and free-thinkers. The monster of communalism is threatening to tear apart the fabric of Indian society. Not only will the people of faiths other than Hindu revolt against the Sena or Parivar brand of Hinduism, but tens of millions of Hindus will refuse to accept the Hindu Talibani version of Hinduism. The path the Sena and the Sangh Parivar have chosen to ‘Hinduise’ India, as Savarkar had dreamt, will fail, but in the process they will inflict incalculable damage to the country.

What the situation demands is much more than issuing condemnatory statements and delivering fiery speeches. What is needed is the organised action by the civil society which has a vital stake in preserving the secular character of our polity. It would be idle to believe that the entire political spectrum will take such a stand. Some ‘leaders’ are already predicting a BJP victory in the Bihar elections for reasons which can only be guessed. The civil society must cease to look up to the politicians for leadership. The battle against communalism, the battle against Talibanising Hinduism and the battle against the conspiracy to turn India into a Hindu theocratic state has to be waged by the people of India — who had given unto themselves a ‘secular, socialist, democratic Constitution’ at the dawn of freedom.

October 14 B.D.G.