April 16, 2016

Agenda First: For Khattar the ‘guru mantra’ is RSS, not development (Editorial in The Tribune, 16 April 2016)

The Tribune, April 16, 2016

Agenda first

For Khattar the ‘guru mantra’ is RSS, not development

A typical child of the Millennium City would have one word for it: “Seriously?!” It sums up a range of emotions: disbelief, surprise, shock, and even a touch of horror. That is how most residents of the showcase city of Haryana, till then called Gurgaon, reacted to the news of it being renamed Gurugram. The other shock, though much less reported, took place in the least heard or served district of the state, renamed Nuh from Mewat. The reason for the change given by the government is people’s demand. This must have been the most guarded secret in Haryana because no one seemed to be even aware of any such demand. The politics of renaming decisions needs examination. The historical reason cited for the ‘public demand’ is that Gurgaon was the village of Guru Dronacharya. It is not a coincidence that the Chief Minister comes from a solid RSS grounding and the reference to Hindu mythology is in line with the Sangh’s agenda of maintaining religious identity as the reference point for all matters of governance. If it does any harm to Brand Gurgaon in the business world, or brings up memories of Eklavya — the slighted self-declared disciple of Dronacharya — for the Dalits, so be it. The agenda becomes all the more clear in Mewat, a district numerically dominated by Meo Muslims. It staggers imagination that they did not want the district named after them, which is what a ‘public demand’ would suggest. Fair or not, the Khattar government for the rest of its term cannot escape the fact that for anything it does, or does not do, the reference point will be the Jat agitation. It was the establishment’s single-minded focus on caste and religious identity, combined with singular incompetence that led to the unimaginable violence. Even after that inexcusable lapse in good governance, the BJP government unabashedly continues with more of the same identity politics. It is a poor return on the people’s faith in Mr Modi’s party.