Democracy has almost always been a tool of tyranny, oppression and subjugation. The “world’s largest democracy”, India is no exception to this rule. There is one key strategy that is employed in every democratic process: ‘manufacturing consent’. The Gujarat state elections of 2002 demonstrated this strategy, during the ‘sweeping’ victory of the Bharatya Janatha Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi in a state that was the scene of devastating anti-Muslim pogroms last year. The massacres were in effect an election campaign for Modi, at the cost of more than 2,000 Muslim lives.
The Hindus in Gujarat were overwhelmed by Godhra propaganda: posters, T-shirts, advertisements, banners, SMS messages and video-clips. Chief minister Narendra Modi talked about the train-burning incident at Godhra at every public meeting, but never mentioned the Muslims’ plight after the Godhra drama. (Investigations have substantiated conclusively that the Godhra train incident was deliberately exploited to ignite the well-planned anti-Muslim pogrom that followed).
The killing of Muslims and destruction of their properties was only the first phase of the genocide. Its consequences are now unfolding: by denying justice to the victims and squeezing Muslims out of the economy, they are being impoverished even further and expelled from the villages and towns where they had lived for many generations.
Immediately after the election results were announced, the BJP passed their political resolution: “let our critics remember that the BJP stands for the protection of each and every Indian and his rights to religious freedom. We are committed against terror, and we condemn what happened in Godhra... We are confident that the Gujarat election results will prove to be a turning point in India’s history, and the ideology of cultural nationalism propagated by the BJP will find wide scale acceptability all over the country.”
The BJP also speculated that the next electoral ‘battle’ would be fought between “cultural nationalism” (Hindutva) and “pseudo-secularism” (the term used by the BJP to describe secular parties that oppose Hindutva). Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a BJP spokesman, said on January 2 that a “wave of cultural nationalism” is “sweeping through the country. ‘Hindutva’ will liberate Muslims and other minorities from being second-class citizens”. Hindutva, Naqvi said, is “the culture of this country” and a “shield of its secularism”.
In reality, of course, Hindutva is just another myth used by the country’s Brahmin elite to extend their power. In fact, there is not even really any such thing as Hinduism; this so-called religion is an umbrella concept used by the Brahmin elites to bring together a vast range of different beliefs, in order to exploit the huge non-Brahmin population and to promote the myth of ‘Hindus’ being a majority in India. These so-called Hindus are, of course, never offered any of the religious or social rights that the Brahmins enjoy; Brahmin exploitation and hegemony is the reality of Hindutva.
Bal Thackeray, leader of Shiva Sena, on January 2 portrayed himself and his party as the foremost advocate of Hindutva. Even last year’s massacres in Gujarat, he said, were not because of “any Narendra Modi pattern or Gujarat pattern, but because of ‘Hindutva’ pattern, and nothing else”. He also said that there were “limits of tolerance” and “wondered whether one was expected to continue displaying tolerance even in the face of attack on Temples”.
In Uttar Pradesh Vinay Katiyar, the state president of BJP, said that Muslims should “return” to the ‘Hindus’ the Varanasi and Mathura mosques, which are next to the Vishwanath and Krishna temples respectively. In Madhya Pradesh Uma Bharati, a cabinet minister, was chosen by the BJP to promote its Hindutva agenda.
On January 2, senior VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore, while addressing a press conference in New Delhi, criticised prime minister A. B. Vajpayee, describing him as a “pseudo-Hindu”. Serving an ultimatum to Delhi, Acharya Kishore said that the centre should return the “undisputed” land it acquired in Ayodhya (after the demolition of the Babri mosque in December 1992) before February 22, or “face a confrontation”. Kishore warned, “The Dharam Sansad is meeting from February 22 to 24 to discuss the Ayodhya issue... we have no faith in the words of the politicians. We will follow every word of... the Dharam Sansad. This time we are prepared for the worst... We are ready for any consequences.” (Dharam Sansad is the outlawed court/parliament of the Sangh Parivar, under whose command the Babri mosque was razed in broad daylight).
Another strategy being employed by the BJP government is the distortion of historical facts and educational textbooks. Critics regard Human Resource Development minister Murali Manohar Joshi as the ‘smart’ leader in the BJP government. Joshi has performed his task well so far. The Indian History Congress, which concluded its 63rd annual session in Amritsar on December 30, decided to set up a committee to examine the new textbooks brought out by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Resolutions to urge the state governments to review NCERT textbooks, to ensure they follow BJP guidelines, were passed unanimously at the three-day session, which for the first time in a decade was organised without financial support from the ministry of HRD.
While the Hindutva agenda is being implemented all over India, Muslims are being pushed to the edge. Unfortunately the Muslims, led by spineless leaders, seem to have no idea what is going on, nor why. The Muslim leadership has called the Gujarat election results “unfortunate” and “shocking”. But they see nothing wrong with expecting the former BJP president and Gujarat chief minister, now Congress chief and Modi’s ‘opponent’, to be the ‘saviour’ of Muslims in Gujarat.
The Muslims of India fail to realise that the growth of the BJP dates from the Ayodhya Movement that resulted in the destruction of the Babri mosque. The Muslims’ enemies know well how easy it has been for them to expel the cream of the Muslim community to Pakistan, detach Bangladesh from Pakistan, massacre the Muslims of Kashmir, demolish a historic mosque, kill thousands of Muslims in pogroms, detain others under notorious ordinances, and continue to marginalize the Muslims in India. Above all, the real enemies of the Muslims are using the oppressed classes of Indian society to attack the Muslims. Yet the Muslims still hope that the constitution, courts and government will protect them. Their enemies are gaining confidence, with one experiment after another, to crush the Muslims in India completely. The Muslims’ leaders lack the necessary vision to guide the community. The sooner the Muslims of India turn away from these ‘leaders’ and find others, the better.
The challenge ahead is not just to wage jihad against the oppressors. There is also the task of enlightening the huge non-Brahmin population of India, who are being deceived by the Hindutva myth. And there is also a clear message to the Muslim Ummah elsewhere: there has to be a sustained intervention in the affairs of their Muslim brethren, who need help, advice and support.