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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 25 New Delhi June 11, 2016

Prepare, the Muslims are Coming’

Saturday 11 June 2016, by Badri Raina

While Donald Trump forges ahead to be the world’s most powerful CEO and then to keep the world’s Muslims from entering America, India’s own Sangh Parivar “trains” its young saffron shirts to do one better—namely, to prepare, rifle and lathi in hand, against our own Muslim Indians.

Last week saw a clutch of Bajrang Dal fascists in fierce drill to ward off possible attacks from an enemy who was represented as a man with a beard and wearing an unmistakable Muslim skull cap.

Noticeably, the target was not sporting either a Pakistani or an ISIS flag, leaving one in no doubt that Muslims in general and our own Muslims in particular were meant to be the enemy. Had the target been terrorists or terrorism, surely the additional symbols would have been imperative to the purpose of representation; and one might have expected to see not only saffronite warriors but perhaps a pluralist group of Indian citizens setting shoulder to the patriotic wheel.

When quizzed about the event—which has now thankfully drawn legal notice from the local authorities in Uttar Pradesh where elections are due in six to eight months (whereby hangs the true tale of the Sangh’s predictable resort to communal polarisation ahead of time)—spokes-persons of the Parivar have been saying how routine an exercise such a thing is; after all, such “self-defensive” drills are habitually imparted in schools and colleges, don’t we know? Indeed we do, but in none of those habitual exercises is a bearded man with a skull cap shown to be the enemy. To put the matter starkly: suppose for a moment that such a drill were to be performed by some Madrassa going young Muslims, showing the target to be a man with a vermillion mark on the forehead, what might the Sangh have said?

What clearly should have worried the mighty BJP-led government at the Centre is the inference that its own young satraps do not trust it to protect them from the Muslims of Ayodhya and Uttar Pradesh. Not so; because more than you or I, the mighty Central Government knows for sure what these shenanigans are about and why they are necessary to the Sangh’s burning desire to capture Uttar Pradesh, come the elections. Do remember that in the elections just concluded in five States, the BJP could only win one—a wholly expected change of government after a fifteen-year-long stint by the Congress in power. Much as that “victory” is sought to be peddled as a globe-shaking triumph, the reality is that the supposedly defunct Congress has won both a larger share of the vote across the five States, and a considerably larger number of Assembly seats. And there is further bleak prospect of the BJP, in all likelihood, having no success in the forthcoming elections to the Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and, cuttingly, Gujarat Assemblies. Note that in the last State mentioned, the Congress recently swept to victory in some eighty per cent of seats in local elections.

Not having brought the least redress to the people at large, tall promises in the 2014 elections notwithstanding, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh that now rules it with an iron fist has one done-to-death recourse, namely, to give out the call for the “nationalistic” Hindu nation to keep the swarm of skull caps and beards at bay, or else all may be lost.

Fortunately, this wretchedly destructive gimmick has been yielding fewer and fewer dividends and it is to be hoped that the coming year will see saner politics gather sufficient force to defeat the Sangh’s cynically divisive and potentially violent tactics—all of which, don’t we know, is marketed under the rubric of “nationalism”?

A hope must also go out to the United States of America that either Hillary Clinton or the inspiring Bernie Sanders will put paid to the Trumpet that blares doom for politics of reason and universal human values.

Look where you will, and the world seems to be teetering on the edge of that burning lake of fire. Do not forget either that a hundred thousand Jihadis worldwide remain committed to cast rest of the recalcitrant world into that lake—a reality that can hardly be met through the politics of imitation.

(Courtesy: Kashmir Times)

The author, who taught English literature at the University of Delhi for over four decades and is now retired, is a prominent writer and poet. A well-known commentator on politics, culture and society, he wrote the much acclaimed Dickens and the Dialectic of Growth. His latest book, The Underside of Things—India and the World: A Citizen’s Miscellany, 2006-2011, came out in August 2012.