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Family Lies

Tuesday 8 May 2007, by Mukul Dube


When the Election Commission took the BJP to task for the communally charged content of its UP election propaganda CD, that party reacted immediately by disowning the CD. We see here a response which characterises the Sangh Parivar: an outright lie.

The BJP could not continue to hide behind that lie after the makers of the CD stated on record that they had been told what line was to be taken in it and that party high-ups, who were kept informed at every stage, had approved it when it was completed and had released it with some fanfare.

The BJP then swung out its usual second line of defence: different spokesmen saying different things, all false. One said that the CD was the work of uncontrollable fringe elements in the party, quite forgetting the central importance of Lalji Tandon in UP. Another said that the CD was an aberration in a record presumably unblemished otherwise. There was also the laughable but unsuccessful distraction of party luminaries courting arrest: another familiar Hindutva ploy, the Red Herring Defence.

I have not seen the UP election CD; but I have seen or heard some of the other propaganda material brought out by the Hindu Right over the years, and it has been consistent in its hate-mongering and its demonisation of Muslims. I therefore believe the TV channel which broadcast portions of this CD and said that it was deliberately not showing some, and that at places it was silencing the audio track, because they were altogether too lurid and offensive.

That various limbs of the Hindutva organism have routinely been putting out such propaganda without any action being taken against them is reflection of the failure of the law and order machinery to live up to the promise of religious equality made in our Constitution. That machinery has failed to uphold what is clearly stated in various laws. As Achin Vanaik told Praful Bidwai (Inter Press Service, April 12, 2007): “The BJP got away with murder in the past because India’s establishment failed to apply the law of the land and pandered to Hindu majoritarianism.”

What is the law of the land? It is perhaps stated most clearly in Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with “promoting enmity between different groups … and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.”

Had the law been enforced, the now silent “Sadhvi” Rithambara would years ago have been put behind bars. Joining her would have been Narendra Modi, who fought the 2002 Gujarat election against “Miyan Musharraf”, in effect calling not just Gujarat’s but the whole of India’s Muslims Pakistanis, and who notoriously described the refugee camps for terrorised Muslims in his State as “breeding factories”.

In the matter of the UP election CD, other branches of the Hindutva “family” have thus far been silent. Indeed, the fact that the BJP is not in power in New Delhi seems to have kept them muzzled since the last general elections. It remains to be seen if they will be made to swing into action or if the old charioteer Advani will begin another “rath yatra”. Like those of Pavlov’s subjects, the Family’s responses are conditioned. n

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