June 18, 2024

Modi's Push Towards Hindutva Agenda

Father, Son and the Push towards Hindutva Agenda Ram Puniyani In the middle of the General elections BJP President, J.P.Nadda stated that BJP is now more capable and does not need the support of RSS for election work. It is well known that so far in most elections most of the progeny of RSS and RSS itself backed up the election work for BJP. After the diminished performance of BJP in these elections now there is a major statement from RSS Chief (Sarsanghchalak) Dr. Mohan Bhagwat about the conduct of parties during elections. Though couched in general language it is directed mainly to Modi and BJP. In addition a top RSS functionary Indresh Kumar also stated that it is due to arrogance due to which BJP seat share has declined. RSS quickly disowned this statement and Indresh Kumar withdrew it and certified that only under Modi’s leadership India can progress. Many commentators have taken the statement of Dr. Bhagwat as a sign of rift between RSS and BJP. What did he say? In the concluding speech to the RSS training camp, he stated that during elections dignity and values of our culture have not been maintained. The opposition has been treated as the enemy while the opposition should be treated as articulating the alternate viewpoint, and attempts should be made to arrive at consensus between the ruling and opposition parties. He lamented the continuing violence in Manipur. He also talked about the rising arrogance. While couched in general terms all this is aimed at Modi-BJP. One recalls Modi’s use of Mangalsutra, Mujra, buffalo, INDIA alliance giving all the reservations to Muslims among other falsehoods in blunt and uncultured manner. Surely the decrease in seats of BJP might have only marginally been affected by it. The major reason for decline of BJP vote share and seats is due to the people’s problems oriented narrative put forward by INDIA alliance. It rightly raised the issues of rising prices, rising unemployment, regular paper leaks, and farmer’s issues and rising poverty. Its language was generally dignified unlike the crass phrases and blunt articulations done by Modi in particular. While INDIA presented a fairly united front at many places, for BJP-NDA Modi, who had declared himself as God, was the central figure around whose name the elections were fought by NDA. So why has this step been undertaken by Bhagwat? If he was serious about these issues why did he not open his mouth so far? Why was he mute when Mahua Moitra and Rahul Gandhi were expelled from Parliament or when 146 MPs were suspended? Why was he quiet when Modi was using crass language during elections? Why has Bhagwat been mum on Manipur violence. Surely he has no interest in any of these issues raised in his speech. He knew if he opened his mouth on these issues BJP’s electoral fortunes would dip, and that is not acceptable to Bhagwat. So why is he opening his mouth now? Modi’s methods during election campaigns have lowered the dignity of his and his party even among sections of the populace who are not diehard supporters of BJP. Its credibility has been hit and its parliamentary misdemeanor has further enhanced the dictatorial image of Modi. So Bhagwat wants to tone down those effects to protect RSS progeny BJP from damages in the future elections. As such Bhagwat knows that Modi has fulfilled the Hindutva agenda in the best possible way. Article 370 has been abrogated, magnificent Ram Temple has been inaugurated and UCC is now implemented in one state while the central initiative on this is in the pipeline. It must have been a matter of joy for RSS that issues of Cow-beef and love jihad have come on the centre stage further intimidating the Muslim community. The ghettoisation of Muslim community is on the rise as exemplified by the case in Gujarat where a Muslim state employee allotted a quarter is opposed by the other residents on the pretext that this one Muslim family will be a threat to the housing complex as such. How Muslims are made invisible all round is also seen by the fact that in schools the likes of Tripta Tyagi can ask all the class students to slap their Muslim classmate one by one. The stories of Muslims families not getting housing in the localities are infinite and shameful. With Modi in the lead the present Central Ministry does not have a single Muslim minister. BJP did not field a single candidate in the elections. RSS has been the major beneficiary during the Modi rule. The number of its branches has proliferated to more than double. The pro RSS ideology academics have important places in colleges and Universities. The textbooks have been saffronised. For example now Babri mosque is not addressed as a mosque but a three dome structure. In the name of the Indian Knowledge System the faith based knowledge is being promoted and things like Darwin’s theory or Periodic Table are out from the text books. So, why is there this storm in the teacup? As the BJP is far short from the majority, the allies like Niteesh and Naidu have to be taken along. Modi right from Gujarat Chief Minister days has worked in full majority with total and unquestioned say in the Government. In 2014 and 2019, the NDA was for namesake. Even the BJP was there for formalities sake. All decisions were taken by Modi himself, be it the Corona lockdown or demonetization, or promotion of Adani-Ambani, he had the first and last word. So can he take along Niteesh and Naidu? Niteesh has already got the caste census in his state while Naidu has four percent reservation of backward Muslims. It is true that these allies operate more at pragmatic level rather than at the level of principles, still in future some differences are likely to crop up. So it is a gentle way of telling Modi to mend his dictatorial ways. It is also a slight hint for the search for a more accommodative person to lead the NDA. As such RSS must be all smiles as its agenda has gone several notches up, slight ego clashes as seen in the behavior of Modi don’t matter in the long run to the fountainhead of Hindu nationalist ideology.

June 13, 2024

Election Results 2024: What Happens to Hindutva Now?

NDA in Power 2024: Whither Hindu Nationalism? Ram Puniyani The failure of BJP to get past 272 has brought back the NDA into the forefront. While Vajpayee came to power and led the NDA Government in 1998, still there was a strong imprint of the BJP politics in the Government. Among other things which were part of Hindutva agenda that time was the appointment of Venkatchaliah Commission to review the Constitution and Saffronisation of the textbooks and introduction of courses in astrology and Paurohitya (Rituals) in the curriculum. Twice, in 2014 and 2019, Modi came to power as NDA but as BJP on its own had overwhelming majority the other components of the Government were on the ‘silent mode’ and BJP aggressively launched its Hindu nationalist agenda, building of Ram Temple and abolition of article 370. In addition the fringe elements killing Muslims on pretext of Cow-beef and love jihad had a free hand, enjoying impunity from the state. The other authoritarian streaks of Modi Sarkar, the subordination of Constitutional institutions were very dominating along with the role of conversion of Media into Godi media. All this did make the opposition to wake up and come together as INDIA. Despite this formation coming into being Modi and BJP centered their election propaganda around anti Muslim rhetoric. Starting from propaganda that Congress manifesto was labeled as having the imprint of Muslim League, most other slogans and promises of Congress were turned into being presented as appeasement of Muslims. Muslims were called Ghuspathiye (infiltrators) and had more children. Modi’s propaganda reached a new low when he said Congress will do mujra (a dance which emerged during Mughal rule) for them. Also it was said that If Congress comes to power terrorists will be released and invited to have Biryani, Taiban rule will be established. The system has been so tuned that names of many Muslims do not find place in electoral rolls, at election booths, many Muslims are turned away by the police. Muslims have been effectively turned into second class citizens and have been made politically invisible. All this intensifies the prevalent hate against this hapless community. With this background as the BJP failed to reach the propagated 400 par for NDA and more than 370 for BJP, there was a big sigh of relief in the community. As the results came and Modi declared himself as the next Prime Minister, he toned down his language to recall ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’ (Equal respect for all religions). This sounded as the sort of peak of hypocrisy in the light of what happened to Muslims (and Christians) during the last ten years. What is in store for this community in times to come? A small relief is possible as probably the impunity enjoyed by the fringe elements may be slightly curtailed. There is a big if as the fringe elements by now are too much rooted in the system. Whether allies like Niteesh and Naidu will be able to raise their voice against this scattered anti Muslim violence is yet to be seen. How effective they can be against the strong arm tactics of the Modi party, only time will tell. The hate spread by the Hindu nationalist is so widespread that it may not be easy to curtail it. It is likely that the third pillar of Hindutva politics, Uniform Civil Code, may be deferred in all probability. The CAA, which discriminates against Muslims is like a hanging sword and time alone will tell us how much pressure BJP will put to implement it. Surely after the remarkable Shaheen Bagh movement the communal party BJP will not insist on it unless they feel through experience that they can bulldoze their way despite the Naidu and Niteesh, who are more tactical in these matters. Already BJP has allied with Naidu who had initiated four percent reservation for Muslims. The other major issue of caste census, to which BJP is opposed, may have to be rethought as it was Niteesh as CM of Bihar, where this was initiated and there is a strong national sentiment for it. There are no buyers for Modi propaganda that the INDIA alliance will remove the reservations for SC/ST/OBC and give it to Muslims. What can we expect about the Muslims social, political and economic conditions? The hate spread against this community by the RSS combine has sunk deep into the social thinking. By default anti Muslim thinking has become part of average perceptions of the society. The consistent work of this RSS combine has gone up exponentially due to the other associates, the changes in textbooks, the role of media, and the word of mouth spread of misconceptions. These myths, misconceptions are the solid pillars on which Hate is constructed and due to prevalent hate against Muslims, violence and subsequent polarization are brought in. While the role of RSS in 2024 elections needs further analysis, it is RSS machinations which keep pumping up the Hate against Muslims and now from the last two decades against Christians also. Interestingly the number of RSS shakhas during Modi rule has more than doubled up during last ten years. One suspects that in a state like Orissa where Kandhamal violence took place and Pastor Stains was burnt alive, the roots of BJP’s political rise were watered and now we see its results. While in Kerala, BJP does win over a section of Christians for various reasons, nationally Christians are on the target of Hindu nationalist politics, as seen by the rising sub radar attacks on prayer meetings of Christians. All said and done the marginalization of Muslims will continue. It is not easy to undo the deep polarization introduced into society due to the work done by this organization. What RSS has been doing was well diagnosed by our first Home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, when he wrote, “All their speeches were full of communal poison, as a result of the poison the country had to suffer the sacrifice of invaluable life of Gandhiji” (Writing after banning of Sangh in 1948). This aspect of our political life was not curtailed-combated and it grew into a multi headed hydra using every opportunity to intensify the religious division in the society. We cannot build the India of the dreams of our freedom fighters without undoing the massive hate which grips the social understanding.

June 05, 2024

Gandhi's Global Fame not Due to Film

Did the World not know about Gandhi till the film on him was released? Ram Puniyani In an interview to ABP on 29th May, Prime Minister Modi stated that "In the last 75 years, wasn't it our responsibility to make Mahatma Gandhi known across the world? Forgive me, but nobody knew Mahatma Gandhi '' till the film on him was released in 1982. When he was saying this the ABP persons interviewing him had stony expressions. They did not react to this elementary falsehood being dished out by the PM. The aim of this statement towards the fag end of the prolonged campaign for General Elections is not hard to guess. Severe criticism of his ten year regime on issues of employment, rising prices, plight of farmers, paper leaks, Agni veer scheme etc. was getting traction. How to divert the attention from these core issues of people was his major concern. This outpouring on Mahatma Gandhi served another function apart from distracting attention from people's issues; it targeted Nehru and earlier Congress regimes for ignoring the popularization of Gandhi on the global arena. More than criticism of Nehru-earlier Congress regimes, actually it shows Modi’s ignorance about the life and works of Gandhi, his international prestige and his role in being the lighthouse for major figures of the World. It shows Modi’s ignorance about Gandhi’s influence on global politics from the decade of 1930s itself, much before Richard Attenborough came out with this biopic on him, based on the biography written by Luis Fisher. With Gandhi’s struggles in South Africa he came to be recognized as a major leader against apartheid. With his coming to India and leading the Champaran movement for farmers, his friend Charlie Andrews spread to the World the unique nature of Champaran Satyagrah. His unique tool of Satyagrah based on truth and non violence began to draw the attention of the World towards the problems of the weak and exploited. Later other movements launched by him; Civil disobedience and Salt March; were widely covered in the global media. The attention paid to him was mainly a source of inspiration for the struggle for justice and the involvement of people around the concerns of the society. His lifework and messages spread with lightning speed on the global scale. On one hand; the British rulers intensified the repression in India and on the other those respecting peace, justice and non violence started noticing Gandhi’s contribution to principles of humanism at Global level. While Modi may not know the real contribution of Gandhi and his great popularity in the World since that time; he needs to know that the English Newspaper, “The Burlington Hawk-Eye”, Sunday Morning September 20, 1931, carried a full page feature on him, “Most Talked about man in the World”. The renowned American magazine, Time, carried him on the Cover as ‘Man of the year in 1931’ and on two other occasions he was on the cover of this coveted magazine. Similarly Time’s companion magazine Life also carried a feature on him. The global personalities contributing to the process of peace and justice through their works and ideas started getting attracted to him. The major scientist Albert Einstein wrote in 1939, “I believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil,” He said of Gandhi that “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” Sir Charles Chaplin, inspired by Gandhi’s movement, ensured a meeting with him and the reflection of Gandhi’s values is very much there in his films, ‘Modern Times’ and ‘The Great Dictator’. In the latter Chaplin contrasts Gandhi with Hitler. Similarly French dramatist Roman Rollain in the French edition of Young India wrote, “"If (Jesus) Christ was the Prince of Peace, Gandhi is no less worthy of this noble title." Two of the major activists of the twentieth Century, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela drew the inspiration and direction for the path of their struggle from Gandhi. In an article for Hindustan times in 1959 King wrote, “I came to see at a very early stage that a synthesis of Gandhi’s method of non-violence and the Christian ethic of love is the best weapon available to Negroes for this struggle for freedom and human dignity” And finally the massive and prolonged struggles of Nelson Mandela had the underlying values derived from Gandhi’s life and teachings. He lauded “Mahatma Gandhi combined ethics and morality with a steely resolve that refused to compromise with the oppressor, the British Empire.” Modi should just know that today there are a large number of Universities in the World where Gandhian studies are a part of their curricula. There are many schools trying to teach his values. Nearly 80 global cities have Gandhi Streets and Gandhi statues installed in their prominent places. As far as films are concerned our own Films Division had come out with a documentary film, made by Vithalbhai Jhaveri much before Attenborough. As a matter of fact Attenborough saw this film twice and advised the lead actor of the film, Ben Kingsley to watch it to understand Gandhi’s mannerisms etc. As for the Modi allegation that the previous regimes did not do anything to popularize Gandhi in the World, even in the making of Attenborough film, Indian Government through National Films Development Corporation contributed a major sum for making this film. For Mr. Modi’s information, the Attenborough film is dedicated amongst others to Nehru also. It was Nehru who advised him not to present Gandhi as a superhuman being, but as the one with all his weaknesses and strengths as he led the nation. Gandhi’s international reputation is not due to films but films have been made due to his fame and reputation. The number of books written on and about him is an astounding number. As the election campaign has come to a halt, on the pretext of this diversionary statement on Gandhi, we can revisit the father of the Nation, whose teachings on harmony and peace are far more relevant today than when he preached and practiced those.

June 01, 2024

Leaflet by leaflet, a few aging activists fight India’s tide of bigotry | Sameer Yasir


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The Telegraph - 1 june 2024

Leaflet by leaflet, a few aging activists fight India’s tide of bigotry

They have continued to hit the pavement even as the price for dissent and free speech has become high, trying to keep the flame alive for the nonsectarian ideal embedded in India’s Constitution and in their own memories

Sameer Yasir Lucknow Published 01.06.24, 04:35 PM
Shabnam Hashmi, left, a 66-year-old activist, and another woman hand out pamphlets with a message of peace and tolerance in New Delhi, May 9, 2024. Hashmi said she had been threatened with prison for her activism over the decades, but that it was “never so bad” as it is now.

Shabnam Hashmi, left, a 66-year-old activist, and another woman hand out pamphlets with a message of peace and tolerance in New Delhi, May 9, 2024. Hashmi said she had been threatened with prison for her activism over the decades, but that it was “never so bad” as it is now. Saumya Khandelwal/The New York Times

One recent morning, Roop Rekha Verma, an 80-year-old peace activist and former university leader, walked through a north Indian neighborhood prone to sectarian strife and parked herself near a tea shop.

From her sling bag, she pulled out a bundle of pamphlets bearing messages of religious tolerance and mutual coexistence and began handing them to passersby.

“Talk to each other. Don’t let anyone divide you,” one read in Hindi.

Spreading those simple words is an act of bravery in today’s India.

Verma and others like her are waging a lonely battle against a tide of hatred and bigotry increasingly normalized by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his deputies have vilified the country’s minorities in a years long campaign that has escalated during the current national election, the small band of aging activists has built bridges and preached harmony between religious groups.

They have continued to hit the pavement even as the price for dissent and free speech has become high, trying to keep the flame alive for the nonsectarian ideal embedded in India’s Constitution and in their own memories.

More than three dozen human rights defenders, poets, journalists and opposition politicians face charges, including under anti-terrorism laws, for criticizing Modi’s divisive policies, according to rights groups. (The government has said little about the charges, other than repeating its line that the law takes its own course.)

The crackdown has had a chilling effect on many Indians.

“That is where the role of these civil society activists becomes more important,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, a deputy director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite a crackdown, they are refusing to cow down, leading them to hold placards, distributing flyers, to revive a message that once was taken for granted.”

The use of posters and pamphlets to raise public awareness is a time-tested practice among Indian activists. Revolutionaries fighting for independence from British colonizers employed them to drum up support and mobilize ordinary Indians. Today, village leaders use them to spread awareness about health and other government programs.

Such old-school outreach may seem quixotic in the digital age. Every day, India’s social media spaces, reaching hundreds of millions of people, are inundated with anti-Muslim vitriol promoted by the BJP and its associated right-wing organizations.

During the national election that ends on Saturday, Modi and his party have targeted Muslims directly, by name, with brazen attacks both online and in campaign speeches. (The BJP rejects accusations that it discriminates against Muslims, noting that government welfare programs under its supervision assist all Indians equally.)

Those who have worked in places torn apart by sectarian violence say polarization can be combated only by going to people on the streets and making them understand its dangers. Merely showing up can help.

For Verma, the seeds of her activism were planted during her childhood, when she listened to horror stories of the sectarian violence that left hundreds of thousands dead during the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

Later, as a university philosophy professor, she fought caste discrimination and religious divides both inside and outside the classroom. She opposed patriarchal attitudes even as slurs were thrown at her. In the early 1980s, when she noticed that the names of mothers were excluded from student admission forms, she pressed for their inclusion and won.

But more than anything else, it was the campaign to build a major Hindu temple in the town of Ayodhya in her home state of Uttar Pradesh that gave Verma’s life a new meaning.

In 1992, a Hindu mob demolished a centuries-old mosque there, claiming that the site had previously held a Hindu temple. Deadly riots followed. This past January, three decades later, the Ayodhya temple opened, inaugurated by Modi.

It was a significant victory for a Hindu nationalist movement whose maligning and marginalizing of Muslims is exactly what Verma has devoted herself to opposing.

The Hindu majority, she said, has a responsibility to protect minorities, “not become complicit in their demonization.”

While the government’s incitement of religious enmity is new in India, the sectarian divisions themselves are not. One activist, Vipin Kumar Tripathi, 76, a former physics professor at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, said he had started gathering students after classes and educating them about the dangers of “religious radicalization” in the early 1990s.

Today, Tripathi travels to different parts of India with a message of peace.Recently, he stood in a corner of a busy train station in northeastern New Delhi. As office workers, students and laborers ran toward platforms, he handed information sheets and brochures to anyone who extended a hand.

His materials addressed some of the most provocative issues in India: the troubles in Kashmir, where the Modi government has rescinded the majority-Muslim region’s semiautonomy; the politics over the Ayodhya temple; and ordinary citizens’ rights to question their government.

“To respect God and to pretend to do that for votes are two different things,” read one of his handouts.

At the station, Anirudh Saxena, a tall man in his early 30s with a pencil mustache, stopped and looked Tripathi straight in the eyes.

“Sir, why are you doing this every week?” Saxena asked.

“Read this,” Tripathi told Saxena, handing him a small 10-page booklet. “This explains why we should read books and understand history instead of reading WhatsApp garbage and extracting pleasure out of someone’s pain.”

Saxena smiled, nodded his head and put the booklet in his handbag before disappearing into the crowd.

If just 10 out of 1,000 people read his materials, Tripathi said, his job is done. “When truth becomes the casualty, you can only fight it on the streets,” he said.

Shabnam Hashmi, 66, another activist based in New Delhi, said she had helped distribute about 4 million pamphlets in the state of Gujarat after sectarian riots there in 2002. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, died in the communal violence, which happened under the watch of Modi, who was the state’s top leader at the time.

During that period, she and her colleagues were harassed by right-wing activists, who threw stones at her and filed police complaints.

In 2016, months after Modi became prime minister, the government prohibited foreign funding for her organization. She has continued her street activism nonetheless.

“It is the most effective way of reaching the people directly,” she said. “What it does is, it somehow gives people courage to fight fear and keep resisting.”

“We might not be able to stop this craziness,” she added, “but that doesn’t mean we should stop fighting.”

The New York Times News Service

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May 30, 2024

Modi, Authoritarianism and God Complex

Narendra Modi, Authoritarianism and ‘God Complex’ Ram Puniyani Democracy is a system of society won after long and intense struggles. The preceding society had mostly Kingdoms. A typical kingdom was an alliance between the Feudal lord-King and clergy. While clergy was representative of the religious power, the king was presented as the son of God whose decisions and actions had the sanction of clergy. Clergy very cleverly cultivated the concept of Heaven (Swarga, Jannat) and hell (Narak, Jahannum). Those obeying to the king-clergy combo were doing Punya, Sawab, virtue and were adding to their positive points for deserving Heaven, while the act of disobedience to these twin authorities were getting negative points, paap, sin, gunah. The sum total of negative and positive points determined whether one deserves heaven or hell. With democracy coming with lots of hiccups, the Kings were replaced by the elected leader, who is bound by the set of laws, mostly outlined in the constitutions. There is a lot of variation in the process of transition from kingdoms to democracy. Democratic process is not static and there are many factors which can reverse the process with the head of state assuming total powers and at places getting legitimacy from the religious authority. This needs a brief recall as in some of the countries globally and particularly in South Asia, the hard won democracy is being replaced by authoritarianism laced in the language of religion (Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan and India). At places the Supreme Leader assumes the twin roles of head of the state and chief priest both, as being seen currently in India in particular. There are no uniform patterns. We earlier saw Indira Gandhi being hailed as Goddess Durga, when she led the country in 1971 war against Pakistan, which led to the formation of BanglaDesh. She herself ignored this ‘honor’ being bestowed upon her. Divinity was not on display in her pronouncements or actions. Narendra Modi the present Prime Minister is very different. To begin with he is a Hindu Nationlist, a trained Pracharak of RSS which has the goal of Hindu nation. Such sectarian nationalisms have the avidity for dictatorships under the cover of religion or race. The promotion of a great image for the top leaders is part of the religious nationalist project. Such nationalisms do preferably need a charismatic leader, whose position is made above questioning due to the aura created around them. As Narendra Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the exercise of creating charisma around him began. On one hand APCO, an image creating firm, was hired to create his powerful image. On the other his childhood was also glorified to back up his image. A comic book was published, ‘Bal Narendra’. In this the story was elaborated that while as a child, when playing with his friends, he entered the river to retrieve the ball and along with the ball he also brought a baby crocodile. With his taking over as the Prime Minister, the Cabinet system, Prime Minister is first among equals, was replaced by all powerful Prime Minister, with Ministers’ powers reduced abysmally. No doubt he called himself, Pradhan Sevak (Chief servant of Nation). His participation in religious functions and places of worship increased. With the media being taken over by his corporate friends, his image as a great ruler was deliberately created. This trend continued and in the 2019 elections, he was presented as Chowkidar (Security guard of the Nation) as more and more of National assets were given over to his favorite industrialists. His longings for becoming the head of religion were gradually surfacing as seen in the consecration ceremony of Lord Ram idols. In this he combined the roles of head of the state and the head of religion. The concentration of power in his hands is more or less too strong by now. On the top of this as he is campaigning for the 2024 Parliament elections he has stated in an interview “"When my mother was alive, I used to believe that I was born biologically. After she passed away, upon reflecting on all my experiences, I was convinced that God has sent me. This energy could not be from my biological body, but was bestowed upon me by God. I believe God has given me abilities, inspiration, and good intentions for a purpose… I am nothing but an instrument. That's why, whenever I do anything, I believe God is guiding me". He also stated that those who will vote for me will get the punya of what good I do. What good has Modi been doing? Subversion of democracy, making policies for the benefits of his cronies, marginalizing Muslims and Christians, glorifying the values of hierarchies of ancient times among others are major outcomes of what he has been doing. This statement is also a delayed response to the Godi media anchors who have been asking him from where do you get so much energy? While those around him have no spine to question him on his policy failures, they also add up in taking his image a few notches up. Already many of his devotees, Kangana Ranaut e.g. are calling him as the reincarnation of God. Now he himself is convinced that he is so and that is the source of his endless energy. One does know that all other dictators also present themselves as being God etc. but there is one dictator, who believed in his being God. Interestingly he himself enunciated this in a book, ghost written by him. That is none other than Adolf Hitler. His biography, ‘Adolf Hitler: His Life and speeches’ was published in 1923. This compared him to Jesus Christ. It mentioned German Aristocrat and War hero, Victor Von Koerber as the author. One research scholar has shown that it was Hitler himself who wrote this book to enhance his image. We have a unique situation now. Chronology of Narendra Modi from crocodile catcher as a child, to behaving like Nero when the Gujarat carnage was going on, Pradhan Sevak in 2014, Chowkidar selling nation’s assets from 2019 and now ‘sent by God’, God incarnate with infinite stamina sleeping only three hours and eating only once as day as per his acolytes.

May 24, 2024

Nadda on RSS BJP relations

Nadda on BJP-RSS relations: Father, Son and Political Equations Ram Puniyani As the election season (April-May 2024) is in progress there are observations by some that this time RSS volunteers (swayamsevaks) are not on the field to help the BJP for electoral mobilization. So far, in most elections barring the one of 1984, in the aftermath of anti Sikh pogrom. There are many guesses about the role of RSS combine in the elections this time. In this context the interview of Mr. J.P.Nadda, given to IE (May 19, 2024) claims that RSS is a cultural and social organization while BJP is a political party. Nadda claims that “… the BJP was now self-reliant and was fully capable of running its own affairs. The party has evolved over a period of time and unlike when during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s time, it was completely dependent on the RSS, this was not the case anymore.” This is claimed particularly in the light of Narendra Modi’s spectacular rise, most of his decisions being made by himself and the charisma created around him by multiple mechanisms, including what is called Godi media, Controlled by his circle of corporate cronies. Some will tend to believe that BJP is now a totally autonomous party like any other party. Can this be true? As we recall RSS was formed in the context of rising ‘Indian-consciousness’ during the freedom struggle. India’s anti-colonial freedom struggle was founded on pluralism and diversity. The triggering point for formation of RSS was the rising dalit struggles for social equality. The formation of this Hindu nationalist organization was also inspired by the Nationalism of Mussolini and Hitler. Unlike another organization devoted to Hindu nationalism, the Hindu Mahasabha, RSS focused on training swayamsevaks and pracharaks (propagators) in the ideology of Hindu nationalism rather than jumping directly into the political arena. In due course it started throwing up different organizations, mostly formed by its trained volunteers. Interestingly the first subordinate organization was Rashtra Sevika Samiti, for women. This was guided by K.B. Hedgewar the first Sarsanghchalak, and formed by the women close to RSS pracharaks (propagators), as women are not permitted in RSS itself. The pracharaks in due course formed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh, Vishwas Hindu Parishad and a bit later Bajrang Dal. Today it has over 60 organizations working on the agenda of Hindu Rashtra. The formation of the political wing of RSS came in the wake of murder of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, by RSS trained Pracharak Nathuram Godse. RSS felt the need for a political party which can articulate its ideology in the political arena. So far entering the political arena was an anathema for this organization. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee of Hindu Mahasabha helped by Arya Samaj in particular took the lead in formation of BJP predecessor, Bhartiya Jansangh. RSS loaned three of its prominent Pracharaks to Jansangh: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishan Advani and Deendayal Upadhyay. Later with Deendayal Upadhyay becoming the President of Jansangh, RSS control on this party became total. At the same time its shakhas were training young boys in the ideology of Hindu nationalism, based on glorification of the ancient past and hate for the Muslims. As per Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel it was the Hate spread by RSS due to which murder of Gandhi became possible, “Sardar Patel was firmly of the opinion that the communal poison spread by the RSS was responsible for the Mahatma’s assassination. …He said, ‘As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhi’ Jansangh-RSS eagerly joined the Jayaprakash Naryan movement 1975. Soon they came to control the movement and got respectability in public eyes, which was extremely low due to their association with Gandhi murder. Jansangh also merged into Janata Party which was inspired by JP. Soon many components of Janata Party asked the Janasangh leaders in the party to give up their association with RSS, i.e. to give up dual membership (of Janata Party and RSS). The Jansangh leaders owed their primary loyalty to RSS and left Janata Party to form Bhartiya Janata Party in 1980. While they were nurtured and trained in the ideology of Hindu Nationalism, BJP for electoral purposes put forward “Gandhian Socialism” as their motto! As they did not get much traction on the electoral arena they soon shifted gears and took up Babri Mosque-Ram Temple as the central issue. The accompanying anti Muslim violence led to polarization and BJP’s ascent on the political chessboard went up by leaps and bounds. The major policies of RSS Combine, of which BJP is a component, are coordinated through annually held ‘Akhil Bhartiya India Pratinidhi Sabha’ (ABPS, All India Representatives Meeting), presided over by the RSS Sarsanghchalak. As BJP became more powerful the RSS was getting more space to work and infiltrate in the state apparatus. Since 2014, the number of RSS Shakhas (Branches) has gone up in number in a big way. As per the ABPS report 22-23 “Over 8,500 new ‘shakha’ (daily meetings) were started by the RSS in the country during 2022-23. The total number of ‘shakha’ rose 12 per cent to 68,651 from 60,117 during the previous year. “ This shows the speed with which RSS work is expanding during present BJP rule. What prevails in RSS and BJP is a division of labor, with RSS being the parent organization and laying the broad contours of march to Hindu Rashtra. The present scenario where Mr. Nadda is making this statement needs to be understood in the context of their electoral strategy and relationship to RSS. It is in no way the parting of ways between the parent organization and its political progeny. Modi’s towering image is needed for the agenda of Hindu nation. As most of the sectarian nationalisms, which are mostly dictatorial, need a towering image to undermine and wipe out democratic freedoms. So projecting Modi as a tall figure in no way contradicts the agenda of RSS combine, as a matter of fact it aids their goals in immeasurable ways. What Mr. Nadda is stating needs to be taken in the proper context and tactical need of the RSS-BJP agenda. It in no way suggests any differences in their long term goal or relationship.