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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 44 New Delhi October 19, 2019

No Compromise with Hindu Majoritarianism

Sunday 20 October 2019, by SC


Is it the final nail in the coffin of secular India? In the campaign for the State Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana (which are to take place on October 21) PM Narendra Modi has vigorously advocated that Veer Savarkar should get the country’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.

Who was Veer Savarkar, after all? No doubt he was incarcerated in the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands in the 1900s by the British. One recalls that in one’s childhood one was thrilled by his exploits against the British. But then did not the same Savarkar seek pardon from the British authorities to come out of prison and by doing so did he not forsake his claim as a freedom fighter? The answer to this query must be an emphatic “yes” and hence one has no two opinions on what the PM said in his election rallies in Maharashtra’s Akola, Mumbai and Aurangabad yesterday—that it was due to “his (Savarkar’s) sanskar (values) that we consider nationalism as the basis for nation-building”. The fact is that Savarkar’s so-called nationalism is something we, secular democrats, steeped in the Gandhi-Nehru paradigm of national progress, must necessarily reject for it was nothing but unabashedly anti-Muslim and majoritarian nationalism, a distinct variant of fascism sown on Indian soil.

[It must also be remembered that after his release from prison, he offered in the First World War his services to the British rulers and opposed the freedom struggle. So to call him a soldier the freedom movement is definitely a travesty of truth. This is another reason why he should be denied the Bharat Ratna.]

But of course, for the Modi-Shah duo, fully wedded to Hindu majoritarianism, “Savarkar’s ideas are key to nation-building”. However, it must be categorically stated without any equivocation or ambiguity that this kind of nation-building is completely alien to secularists of all hues. That is precisely why it is necessary for all secular forces to unitedly oppose the latest majoritarian onslaught in the form of felicitating Savarkar with the Bharat Ratna award. The pusillanimity displayed by the Congress by not opposing the Sangh Parivar’s proposal to honour Savarkar by placing his photograph in the Central Hall of Parliament must not be repeated again on this score under the garb of ‘pragmatism’ regardless of the outcome of the State Assembly elections.

For those pledged to carry forward the battle against Hindu supremacists there must be no compromise with the forces of Hindutiva resolved to undermine national unity with the objective of realising the country’s eventual break-up. That is why any compromise with those fissiparous forces would be a shameful betrayal of the ideal and values of secular democracy, a precious gift of our freedom struggle which had no connection with either Savarkar or his present-day apologists, headed by the Modi-Shah duo.

October 17 S.C.

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