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Ram Mandir And Secularists: The Paradox Of Times Of India

Author: Vijay Chauthaiwale
Publication: Vijaychauthaiwale.wordpress.com
Date: August 4, 2020
URL:   https://vijaychauthaiwale.wordpress.com/2020/08/04/ram-mandir-and-seculariststhe-paradox-of-times-of-india/

It is amusing that intellectuals of different hues have a sermon of secularism up their sleeve with Hindus as their pupil. And more amusing that in a secular state as ours, it is imam Bukharis and Syed Shahbuddins that call the shots.

 Is it necessary to teach secularism to Hindus? Is it not an integral part of their cultural heritage? Have they ever advocated theocracy? Did Hindus ever believe in a forceful imposition of any particular school of thought over others? In fact, they have entertained all these schools with equal enthusiasm. The plain truth is that India is secular only because of Hindu majority.

However, this catholicity of outlook of the Hindus should not be misunderstood as their weakness. It has to be a positive dynamic force that is flexible enough to allow all diverse groups to practice their legitimate religious views and at the same time rigid enough so that nobody can take them for granted.

A section of intellegentia is yet to understand this aspect of secularism. They believe that only after giving more and more concessions to minorities, India can remain secular. One of the reasons behind this belief is due to the school of thought developed by Pandit Nehru. In the pre-independence era, Congress, as a part of its attempt to form the broadest forum against the British Raj, was not certainly wrong in seeking and soliciting support from various socio-religious groups. But the support sought was not unconditional. There was no  unity of  purpose and the urge for the freedom of the common motherland. Congress embarked upon bargains to buy the support of reluctant and allowed itself to commit a historical blunder. Deals dictated the Congress moves. An era of appeasement began and the word minority became the magic work in the political parlance.

With this compromise became so elastic that no serious concern was shown to recognize the great cultural, emotional and theological heritage of this society, which is essentially Hindu by al means. Consequently, they have also refused to recognize Hindu nationhood. On the contrary, according to these people, India is a nation in making and to build this nation, it is essential to change ourselves according the wishes of minorities.

This section of intellegentia also constitute some elements that had supported Britishers in pre-independence era. After 1947, they have, with partial success, breeded the hypothesis that only Congress is capable of keeping territorial integrity of India (may it be at the cost of very nationhood) and therefore tried to discourage every attempt to establish any different pattern of socio-political and economical structure by castigating it as non-congressism. Though Congress doesn’t represent any more or less continuity of thoughts and traditions, as any ‘ism’ as such required to hold (with, of course, a few notable exceptions like corruption, malpractice, etc.), Nehruvian legacy does represent a unique tradition of minority appeasement.

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In this context, it is interesting to analyze the various views expressed in the Times of India during September-October, and Ramjanmabhoomi issue can be the best touchstone.

Respecting peoples’ sentiment is an essence of democracy. Though everybody has a right to express the reservations of Muslim community on Ayodhya issue, not to say whether they are legitimate or not, it certainly cannot be at the cost of Hindu sentiments. But this is exactly what the TOI  is doing these days through their editorials. Notwithstanding the tremendous response to Rath Yatra received throughout its path, as reported in the same paper elaborately, its only concern was the protection of disputed structure. In its editorial on the D’day (30th October), it states “if it (the law) fails to protect the Babri Masjid, the faith of this (Muslim) community in its future well-being in India will be shattered quite beyond redemption.” And after the mayhem on October 30th and 2nd November, they have yet to find little time to express their sorrow over the death of hundreds of unarmed Kar Sevaks who have laid down their bodies in Ayodhya. On the contrary, they have criticized law and order machinery for their failure to cope with Kar Sevaks (31st October, “Anguished India”). This represents not only ignorance but also deliberate insult to millions of Hindus.

The above example is not an isolated case. But is a part of a larger orchestrated campaign against Ram temple. Apart from insulting Hindu sentiments, there are many other aspects of this strategy. Discouraging VHP-RSS-BJP and projecting Mulayam Singh Yadav as the “Messiah” of secularism are also an integral part of this gam plan. Shri Swapan Dasgupta in his article, “Referendum on Ram” (16th July), indicates that this agitation can be crushed with the same ease as that of aborted attempt of Shilanyas by Dwarka Swami. He has described VHP as a ‘toothless tiger’. Though Shri Dasgupta is a person with a change now, as described in the later part of this article, it is needless to say that if it is a fact, he would not have wasted his energy (and TOI its precious space) to counteract the roaring of tooth-less tiger. ON the contrary, it is because of intense fear in their mind that this agitation can change present caste-based power equations, they have launched this campaign.

See another report on 12th October by M.G. Gupta which describes ‘multi-tier and foolproof’ security arrangement in Ayodhya, states that “…. The heavens are not going to fall in this temple town on that day”.

To serve their purpose, they have projected Mulayam Singh Yadav as the only person who can nullify this agitation. Whatever may be the case, agitation by Tikait or demand by Ajit Singh group for a change in UP leadership, TOI has supported Yadav. Even during his anti-English campaign, TOI has advised him not to waste his energy on these issues as he had to fight a bigger battle in Ayodhya. A series of articles and reports have been published  to support Yadav. Arvind Das states, “…he (Yadav) is standing up for the values of secularism enshrined in the constitution and he is merely upholding the rule of law.” (Sept 21). TOI has praised Rajiv Gandhi for supporting Yadav in NIC meeting at Madras (Sept 25th). Dasgupta in his article “Confrontation in UP” (Sept 24th) writes “…. That a determined grassroots politician can successfully call the saffron bluff” He also praised Yadav for his assurances that under no circumstances should pilgrims and VHP activists be allowed to assembled in Ayodhya on October 30th.

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These champions of ‘Rule of Law’ have conveniently forgotten the fact that Yadav is facing 30 criminal cases in different courts. As much as 178 orders by Allahabad High-Court regarding the Parikrama have been violated by Yadav govt. Not even a word of criticism has been written against Mr. Azam Khan, a minister in UP and a know critic of Supreme Court judgment in Shah Bano case. It is therefore crystal clear that for all these  ‘intellectuals’, the law of land should be followed only by Hindus and even in the court of law, few can be more equal than others.

Not a single word has been written against Yadav before October 30th. Only after the great upsurge of Hindu strength, they have commented that Yadav’s campaign was gravely undermined by his strident rhetoric (October 31). Yet another report on November 1st by Sharat Pradhan states, “much publicized anti-communalism rallies further inflated his (Yadav’s) ego,” thus making it clear that more than anything else, Ayodhya issue was a prestige issue for Yadav which has cost so many lives.

This mischievous campaign was run behind the smoke-screen of secularism. Before the announcement of Rath Yatra, these people started claiming that BJP is in a fix over Mandal issue and rapidly getting isolated in Hindi belt (See editorial and article by Harish Khare on 14th Sept). They have described BJP’s support to VHP as its attempt to find and easy (Dasgupta-16th July) and lazy (khare-14th Sept) options.

After its announcement, these people were not only hopeful of its failure, but also tried to visualize nonexistent rift between VHP. RSS and BJP and after the great success of Yatra, Bidwai claimed that Yatra’s success is a liability (Oct12th). He states that Yatra has resulted in turning the BJP into a virtual pariah.. In his wishful thinking (of course without any reason or logic) he predicted that BJP is  losing its discipline, it would lose electorally if parted away from NF, it may reach some compromise on Mandir issue and finally result into a small pressure group. Harish Khare (October 26th) had also expressed more or less similar views.

Though only time will tell us about the fate of their predictions, both of them seem to depend on astrology than on ground realities. Some of their predictions have been already turned down by BJP’s ranks and files. At present, each and every political party, except BJP, is running away from elections and that itself is sufficient to believe that large turnout for Ram Mandir cause has enough strength to change the electoral calculations in favour of  anybody of their side. It pains to point out that the wishes are not horses.

In the orchestra of Padgaonkar and Co., few instruments (and may be musicians too) have coincidentally or deliberately gone out of tune. As described in the earlier part of this article, Dasgupta is a man with change, may be after witnessing Rath yatra and interviewing L.K. Adwani. In his article on October 23rd, “Journey to Ayodhya”, he states that Hindu consolidation for Ram temple can be a very reality. According to him, “It (Rath Yatra) is, arguably, the most honest attempt yet to tackle these vital issues left behind by the Nehruvian consensus.”

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It was indeed a pleasant surprise, though short-lived, to read the editorial on 16th October. It clearly stated, “It is in the national interest to ensure that Rath Yatra proceeds peacefully to Ayodhya where construction of Ram temple can begin in the outer perimeter”. However, very next day, in a complete reversal, they have again gone back to their old views. The editors were at pains to elaborate how they are holding the same good old values. They, of course, could not explain their volte-face twice in two days. But to ensure their commitment to Babar, the editorial states “the country must now be prepared for a head-on clash between Hindutva activists and all those determined to uphold the law of land”. Of course, for them, Yadav is free to violate any law of the land because he is fighting the values enshrined in TOI.

Why all this campaign against Ram Mandir? Why so much nausea for Hindutva? The reason is as simple as that they want to bring Congress back to power. Some may think this conclusion as an oversimplification of their virtues. But there are enough points to substantiate it.

Firstly, there were no major difference between V.P. Singh and Yadav as far as Ayodhya issue is concerned. Though TOI  has laouded the role and activities, even though provocative, of Yadav, there is no word of praise for V.P. Singh, for the simple reason that it is because of V.P. Singh, Rajiv Gandhi had to suffer a lot.

Secondly, attempts were also made to conceptualize their notion that Hindu consolidation is nearly impossible and even if it comes of age, it will result into repression of backward classes. Let’s see a classic example of this kind. Arvind Das writes on 21st Sept, “Ram is dearer to Mr. Adwani because he was a ‘Kshtriya’. On the other hand, Shiva was a mountain-dwelling Kirata (tribal) while Krishna, a great warrior, enlightened teacher and indeed divine incarnation had Yadava (OBC) origin.”

This one paragraph expresses the entire motive behind the campaign of TOI. By stating this, they have shown a naked side behind their tall claims of equality. By dividing even Gods on the caste lines, they have tried to hurt the deep sentiments of Hindus.

Though there is no need to comment on this low level of vulgarity, which puts a big question mark on the credibility of TOI, it also exposes one more dark aspect of their editorial policy and that is they are not at all for the class-less and caste-less Hindu society. Needless to quote the other articles on the same line of frightening and thus discouraging backward classes from becoming an integral part of the Hindu society. It is the same style of policy ‘divide and rule’, on which Britishers ruled us and essentially an integral part of Nehruvian edifice. Taking lessons from these arguments, there is every reason to believe that their reason opposition to Mandal commission is not out of some genuine reservations, but because of the simple fact that its implementation today is politically disastrous for Congress.

Their campaign for secularism is also for the same reasons. Many articles have been written to prove, on one side, that Congress is, in true sense, secular and now stopped wooing Hindus and supporting Hindutva (‘Back to the rails’ 8th October). However, they have criticized Congress, whenever, according to them, is diverting from ‘secular credentials’. But it was also out of their deep convictions that only after wooing minorities, Congress can come back to power (Praful Bidwai, Oct 25th). By inviting Shaban Azmi and Shatrughan Sinha to deliver holy discourses on secularism and progressive thinking, TO has converted itself into a laughing stock for a matured reader.

This is not an end to their hysteric propaganda. They have even started calling RSS people as murderers of Mahatma (‘Back to Rails’ Oct 8th) for which they didn’t need any basis. They have also published one-sided versions of the letters written by Sardar Patel to Guruji during 1948-49 ban on RSS. In the process, they have conveniently forgotten the fact that not even a single allegation against RSS could be substantiated in a court of law. Secondly, it was Sardar Patel, who brought a resolution in AICC suggesting RSS to be admitted into Congress. The authors of these articles should have gone through the pages of Kapoor Commission before writing such articles if they have even a little commitment for truth.

And the greatest hypocrisy is that even after their belief that RSS was behind the murder of Mahatma, they are not adverse to the idea of RSS parting away from BJP and supporting Congress (Bidwai, Oct 12th). One may not call Bidwai, Khare, Das as hired intellectuals, but these articles certainly raise the questions about their ability of impartial thinking.

In short, these “Connoisseurs of Secularism’ have a single mission and that is to bring back Congress to power. For that they have attempted to woo minorities, tried to divide Hindus on caste lines, projected Yadav, but not V.P. Singh, tried to bring back Congress to their age-old vote back of minorities and to cover up all this, they tried to project their mission as the secularist approach.

In the process, they have not only exposed their hidden motives but also couldn’t control spreading foul smell which is an essential byproduct of fermenting Nehruvian legacy.

-Vijay Chauthaiwale (sometime in 1990)

P. S. This blog is dedicated to late Prof Shripathy Shastri, senior RSS worker in Maharashtra and Prof of History at Pune University. He encouraged me to write and also discussed with me every details.

 

 
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