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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 27 New Delhi June 25, 2016

Two Years of Hindutva Rule

Sunday 26 June 2016, by Mukul Dube

According to a report in The Hindu newspaper of June 12, 2016, Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Abhay Vartak said that he is “sad to see that Hindu organisations [are] being targeted in spite of a Hindu government being in power”. He forgot that the law has no religion and that the law is above the government in power. A man who kills another human being is a murderer, plain and simple, and he is liable to the same punishment regardless of his religion. Most important, the Constitution of India requires the Government of India to have no religion.

It is of course characteristic that Hindutva people should expect to be above the law when their people run the government. They have neither principles nor morals, after all, and they derive their strength from “hamare log” in the government and the administration, not least the police forces. The painstakingly built up structure of Indian democracy—the Constitution, various institutions, the body of laws—means nothing to them. All of these things can be bent to their will by those in power. Voh toh hai thanedar ka sala is the guiding principle.

As we have seen in the two years since Hindutva came to power, its people are above the law. Their most horrific actions are not punished and are, in fact, given the seal of approval by the Prime Minister’s silence. He was silent even about the barbaric killing of Akhlaq at Dadri. And of course he does not bat an eye-lid when people of his “family” honour criminals from among themselves and hold “mahapanchayats” to plan mayhem.

Sangeet Som, who criminally helped to instigate the Muzaffarnagar violence with a fake video and inflammatory speeches, and his fellow MLA Suresh Rana, were first felicitated by the BJP in Agra at a rally for Modi, the then prime ministerial candidate, in November 2013. Modi said nothing about the two in his speech. For a man who lavishly ridicules and abuses his opponents, silence about the foul behaviour and the crimes of people of his own “family” can only be seen as approval.

That was before Modi became the Prime Minister. After he came to power, those who committed crimes before 2014 have retroactively been declared innocent. This has been done systematically, and many now hold that the system of justice itself has been subverted and corrupted.

Gujarat, Modi’s fief, has predictably seen the worst of this. Maya Kodnani, sentenced to 28 years’ imprisonment for her role in the Naroda Patiya massacre, was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court—on July 30, 2014—on grounds of ill health. D.G. Vanzara, the “encounter specialist” who spent over seven years locked up in the Tulsiram Prajapati case, is out on bail and making grand public appearances. Amit Shah, the then Home Minister of Gujarat, arrested in 2010 in the same case and described as “kingpin and prime accused”, is not only out on bail and free to go to Gujarat, from which he had been externed, but is also the Party Boss in Delhi. His standing in the Sangh Parivar may even be higher because of the charges against him.

In these days of Hindutva, reality is of no consequence while the rulers’ image is all-important. When Party Boss Shah speaks to his party workers, he never asks them to do what they promised in their manifestos. His entire focus is on what they should make the people believe. The grand spectacle of Modi’s coronation and the staged photos of him and other leaders with brooms are image building and only that. So is the plastering of his and Shah’s faces all over the newspapers and, indeed, wherever one cares to look.

All this is of course only to be expected, for in the general elections of 2014 Modi’s image was played up while the reality was concocted—or disguised and suppressed. Modi is an achiever only for those who have manufactured his image: his achievements are imaginary.

These two years of Hindutva have seen no improvement in the lives of the common people. There has, in fact, been a decline, looking at many indicators—and this is when the effects of handing over the country to rapacious big capital have yet to fully manifest themselves.

All we have of the promised Good Days is an endless flow of loud but empty slogans. These slogans are too many to count, and I shall speak only of the strident and incessant calls for patriotism. How do we explain them? India is at war with no one; and India has no enemies. Pakistan, the “enemy” according to Hindutva, has been put in that role precisely so that patriotism may be invoked. We then see that the calls for patriotism are not aimed at making Indians love India. They are a device for labelling “anti-national” those people whom the Hindu Right fears. These are chiefly Muslims, tribals and those of the Left — or, as a friend said the other day, all who can think for themselves and who can see through the giant web of lies which Hindutva has fashioned.

There is one pair of slogans which gives hope. Students, who have felt the fist of a malign State and of Hindutva toadies planted in high positions above them, can be heard shouting both “Jai Bheem!” and “Lal Salaam!” I am one of those who believe that this new alignment will not remain confined to academia but will burst forth upon all of India.

The author is a writer, editor and photographer.