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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 47 New Delhi, November 14, 2015

Politics of ‘Distancing’ a la BJP

Monday 16 November 2015, by Sharad Rajimwale

Among the many things fabricated by the BJP rulers after their assumption to power in India, one striking fixture is the politics of ‘distancing’. On a close look it appears to perfectly suit their total action plan which enjoys the benefit of being worked out with great care and meticulous vision by those who are not in power, yet are powerful. The RSS does not leave anything to chance. It believes in working out the fine blueprint and getting down to it well in advance. Even the communal rioting often exudes the air of fine craftsmanship, reminiscent of the pre-War II Nazi maniacs’ delight in laying shress on dark details. So, this new-fangled concept of ‘distancing’ from whatever possesses the potential of rocking their boat comes as a handy tool.

Indeed in recent days we have been treated to a spate of fiery utterances from some quarters of the ruling elite that bears resemblance to a pack of hounds gone amok. Much before the general elections the tone was being set by the likes of Swami Adityanath and Giriraj Kishore with the sole purpose of arousing communal sentiments in the country. After the elections their voice acquired a new strength of authority lashing out at the non-Hindus for little or no reason. They act in unison like, what Graham Greene termed as, the Ministry of Fear. Many of them have made it their job to be on the prowl seeking their prey; and when they find one, the readymade equation is applied: “Go to Pakistan if you can’t toe our line.” It is not necessary here to present the full spectrum of statements on a range of issues that this set of BJP leaders comes out with, for they are too well-known to merit repetition. The recent target is the film actor Shahrukh Khan.

That the BJP Government feels embarrassed by this kind of unbridled verbal spouting is a question deserving serious attention. Nothing appears to be straight and simple with the Hindutva messiahs. They must wrap themselves in layers of pretentious posture, for they want to eat the omelet without breaking the egg! They forget that it is one of the most difficult things to maintain pretentions for long. On the surface they would like to have the Indian masses believe that they are not communalists as history has chronicled them to be. But that mask slips all too soon when their own pet Swamis and Sadhvis cannot but help stirring up the age-old RSS brew with venomous ladle. Promptly comes a muddled cluster of clarifi-cations from the party and some government persona that it has nothing to do with what its own Ministers/MPs have said; they are their personal opinions. Personal opinions blared from broad public media dais! So the party distances itself. This is a most convenient trick.

Is the BJP embarrassed by Yogi Adityanath’s silly remarks? No. It merely distances itself from them! And the matter ends there or is supposed to end, till the next salvo is fired with similar shamefaced gawkiness. By ‘distancing’ themselves from the statements which are intended to upset the country’s well-being nothing much is achieved. Even a word of criticism would have made one believe that the Modi Government was truly embarrassed by them and would at least take the step of reprimanding publicly its erring boys and girls. They deserve to be removed from their posts as Ministers and thrown out of the organisation, if the national leadership feels that their pronouncements are a cause of general damage, discontent among masses and detrimental to acceptance of the country’s image as a tolerant democracy. These have been happening so often that the ‘tool of distancing’ has turned into a big joke. The message soon becomes clear. By refusing to criticise the expressed opinion or taking stern action what is foregrounded without saying is that the party and government silently endorse it. The voice of these crude BJP leaders contains the old ideas of the RSS whose cherished dream of one Akhand Hindu Rashtra remains frustrated. And frustration leads to aggression. Behind the BJP’s stage-show stands the RSS now desperate to gain some foothold in the wider terrain.

One major fault that can be marked as the BJP’s central problem is that it cannot see far beyond banalities, for it does not know what to do with this vast country over which per chance it got the opportunity to rule. The RSS languishing in its mythological fantasy has begun to call the shots with Amit Shah acting as the arch devil. Hence the audacity of the Pithaadheesh, the Yogis, the Swamis and the Sadhus who ought to have gone into Vanaprasth and Sanyas ashrams if they really understand what Hindu dharma ordains them to follow. Such persons are tacitly promoted by the BJP top brass by maintaining a calculated silence and when the noise gets too powerful, by ‘distancing’ from it all. This is, amusingly enough, conveyed to the nation in a one-line response.

This is the BJP’s brand of new political ruse. But the risk is that repeated performances of the pantomime may expose the hypocritical stance of the party. The harvest then may not be to their liking.

The author is a retired Professor of English, Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur. He is the author of 25 books on literature and language and a translator.