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Anshul is a Political Science and Law graduate from the University of Delhi. He is interested in political, legal and policy developments and frequently writes on related themes. You can contact him on anshulkumarpandey [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bhakt Logic: If you are anti-BJP, you are 'Anti-National'

Over the last few weeks, one thing has become very clear in the ongoing political discourse of the country. If you are anti-BJP, you are an anti-national, unpatriotic, ungrateful fool who is exploiting his/her right to freedom of speech and expression while living at the mercy of the majority of the Hindus of this country. If you as much as mewl a word of dissent, expect to be on the receiving end of slander, abuse and character assassination because, hey, despite criticizing Hindutva principles while living in a Hindu majority country you are still alive. You should thank your stars that the Hindutva government isn’t as bad as the Islamist theocracy of Saudi Arabia, otherwise you would’ve been beheaded without a moment’s notice. So you shouldn’t complain about blatant public political bullying because you are being spared your life. The fact that the Constitution of India grants you the right to express your views freely shouldn’t stand in the way of this line of logic.

The Modi bhakts have appropriated for themselves the role of the spokespersons of all the Hindus in the world without the latter’s consent or approval. Everything that a BJP supporter says is backed by 100% facts and irrefutable logic, while every criticism directed at them is the handiwork of a small group of “presstitutes” (a term coined by sitting Union Cabinet Minister and former Indian Army Chief V K Singh) who are grumbling because the alleged regular supply of easy cash from the maa-beta Khangress Party has stopped flowing into their bank accounts. The amount of respect for the fourth pillar of democracy and basic tolerance of dissent apart, this really shows the high esteem in which Mr. Modi’s followers and sitting members of his cabinet hold the media.

The level of debate and discussion in the media has also reached an all time low. Journalists are constantly on the hunt for the next hate-byte to drive up TRPs and once whiskey-sipping, globe-trotting elite media persons have begun extolling the health benefits of cow-dung and cow-urine. Added to this is the series of incendiary and toxic remarks made by a string of notable BJP and RSS leaders aimed at polarizing the population of the country for petty gains in the just concluded Bihar Assembly Polls. Dialogues between people holding opposing view points have been reduced to shouting matches, with the fanboys of the Sangh working hard to stifle the voice of anyone who dares speak out against their version of history, their interpretation of Indian culture and their definitions of national and anti-national. A number of intellectuals such as Narendra Dhabolkar, M M Kalburgi and Govind Pansare have already been silenced.

To further stoke an already simmering cauldron filled with the poison of communalism and hate, the far-right allies of the Sangh parivaar have identified the issue of cow slaughter as the biggest malaise facing the people of modern India. Hunger, Poverty, Unemployment, Housing etc. can take a back seat in front of the holy cow. Going by their logic, cow slaughter warrants man-slaughter. Mohammad Ikhlaq from Dadri was dragged out of his home and lynched by a mob and his son was hit on his head with a sewing machine – not once, but several times – to drive exactly this point home. It does not matter that Ikhlaq didn’t even eat beef. Or purchase it. Or was caught with it. He was a Muslim, a second degree citizen whose citizenship depended entirely on unhelpful submissiveness to the agenda of the Hindu Nationalists. And therefore his life was an expendable commodity which was spent to highlight the grave national crises of cow slaughter. It is as if the followers of the BJP insist that one must really try to understand that if Ikhlaq wouldn’t have been killed, Hindus all over the country would have remained getting sentimentally hurt and therefore his murder was necessitated in a fight to preserve the good sentiments of the Hindus.

Yet, given the fragile nature of Hindu sentiments, the fight continued. The Shiv Sena, challenged to prove its nationalist credos by the actions of the Sangh, promptly got hold of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a former bureaucrat and chairman of a prominent think tank, and blackened his face for organizing a book launch featuring Pakistan’s former foreign minister. They also got a concert by a popular Pakistani singer cancelled, thus achieving one more of their unwanted goals. All this, while the residents of Mumbai still wait to get to their homes safely without falling in one of the many potholes of Mumbai’s roads, without getting stuck in serpentine traffic jams or by drowning when the rain falls, a task for which they elected the Shiv Sena in the first place. But the leaders of the Shiv Sena seem to have bigger nationalistic concerns in their minds and they expect the people to understand that the party cannot spare the time required for solving their petty concerns.

When did we reach a stage where our politics descended into a quagmire where public representatives are in denial of facts, intolerant to an opposite point of view, undeterred by new information, contemptuous of science and rationality, harbor a tribal mentality and are quick to ascribe political motives to intellectual criticism? Our idea of India had been recently redefined from “wiping the last tear from the cheeks of the last citizen” to “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas”. We were happy, even optimistic. We had discarded the criticism of the BJP by a few stray political loudmouths (including this writer) and had thrown out the most corrupt government in India’s history. We had handed the opposition a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha after 30 years. We had decimated the ruling Congress and had shown them their proper place. We felt as if we had taken the control of our country back into our hands and we felt we would now develop rapidly and eradicate the numerous problems facing our country. For once, we felt pride in our democracy. Yet now we wonder, where did the Chief Minister Modi, who talked about bullet trains, smart cities, ease of doing business and a strong rupee, vanish? When did this globe trotting, expensive suit wearing, egomaniac, potty mouth, hate apologetic, election crazy, control freak Prime Minister Modi take his place?

The BJP and its followers think that the number of anti-nationals in this country is increasing day by day. Ram Jethmalani and Arun Shourie, earlier iconic nationalists in the eyes of these few, are now the latest additions to a list already full of ‘sickular’ intellectuals. The war is on. But it is not against the woes facing the common man in his day to day life. It is instead against the ideology of unity in diversity, communal harmony, national brotherhood and Secularism. The RSS is spearheading this war and its general is the Prime Minister himself, who silently supervises as his followers go about destroying the social fabric of the nation. Anybody fighting against the foot soldiers of the RSS and the BJP is considered anti-Modi, anti-BJP, anti-RSS and therefore, anti-national, where the nation is taken to mean a Hindutva nation.

I, for one, do not identify with the idea of such a nation. And I guess, because of that, I too am an anti-national.