By Kiran George:
“My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.” – Narendra Modi.
I’m not particularly sure whether to snigger at the seemingly hypocritical untruths that this ‘great man‘ speaks or turn away and pretend that BJP is the epitome of all that is good and secular. The RSS and its Sangh Parivar allies have been out on a mission to turn India into Hindu-stan, offering lakhs to poor, tribal Muslims and Christians for a joyous welcome into the Hindu parivaar. The BJP had until a day ago, quite diplomatically and unexpectedly, largely distanced itself from the entire issue altogether, save for the occasional “I condemn” lines thrown in somewhere in between.
Let me begin with bringing in some clarity to a rather controversial subject – the BJP-RSS nexus. I have met far too many individuals who seem to share the same convoluted belief that the BJP is an independent party making independent, uninfluenced policies; and I really think it’s high time someone set the facts straight. For the uninitiated, a number of top BJP leaders, Modi included, are revered members of the RSS. The BJP quite appropriately accommodated a number of RSS imports into its party – Haryana CM Manohar Lal Kattar, three of the party’s General Secretaries (Ram Madhav, Ram Lal and P. Murlidhar Rao), and all four of the party’s Joint General Secretaries (V. Satish, Saudan Singh, Shiv Prakash and B.L. Santosh) are swayamsevaks.
The Rakshasutra programme organised by the RSS at BJP leader Venkatesh Naidu’s residence amply reflects how the Sangh Parivar is no more hesitant of displaying its merging identity with the BJP – this fact is further emphasized by the trademark black RSS cap donned by most BJP members, and the RSS General Secretary’s opening statements, where he takes pride in the fact that “for the first time, the country is being led by somebody who has been trained by the RSS and will continue to do so for many more years to come”.
The whole Sangh sponsored and initiated charade began last December when about 300 miserably poor Muslims in Agra were the first targets of the Sangh’s beloved ‘reconversion’ mission, allegedly lured into converting by promises of ration cards and plots of land. The Shiv Sena UP secretary Anil Singh strongly opposed it, but caught us off-guard with his reasons – “Hindus have always had a calm nature and have always respected other religions but Muslims are fanatics and revolting in nature. If Muslims convert or reconvert to Hinduism and then marry Hindus, it will lead to genetic abnormalities in the Hindu community”. Prime Minister Modi was, however, silent. The RSS publicly sought out donations for their conversion event in Aligarh, but our beloved PM remained silent. Churches were vandalized, mysterious fires destroyed the altars, and Christians in Kerala and West Bengal were converted. Senior BJP leaders appreciated the ghar wapsi programme, but Prime Minister Modi was silent. Then Obama came to India, emphasized on Constitution’s Article 25, and reiterated the Government’s responsibility to uphold freedom of religion and conscience in India – and two weeks later, Modi finally makes his opening statement condemning the conversions at a Christian function in Delhi.
Two and a half months is what it took for the country’s leader to awaken from a self induced slumber to take action and make a statement, but all the while being careful to avoid hurting the sentiments of brother, sister and parent right wing organizations. The BJP has never hesitated to publicly point fingers at the Congress for its misdeeds, both when necessary and unnecessary, and yet when the time comes to publicly bring to book the Hindu-extremist organizations for their absolutely intolerable actions in a democratic, secular country, the Prime Minister has only mild words of reproach to offer.
While the BJP’s top brass make rather interesting statements about ghar wapsi not being a government programme, what makes their words laughable is the back door-entry policy that the party seems to live by. Quite simply put, the BJP plays appeaser to the Togadias and Bhagwats of the Sangh Parivaar, taking fancy in putting up a moderate facade, thereby providing some sort of cover for their right wing comrades to carry on their Hindutva antics. Certainly a well thought out strategy, but how much longer does the party think we’re going to be fooled into believing their very disputably secular beliefs?
It has been eight months since Prime Minister Modi assumed power, and sabka saath, sabka vikas remains a cruel joke.