Patriotism of NRIs, who carry other countries’ passports, is skewed.
By Shajahan Madampat
ABU DHABHI: For the likes of me, it is an anxious wait for an unlikely miracle now. All opinion polls are more or less unanimous that the juggernaut of Narendra Modi is now unstoppable. Much as I would like to believe it is media propaganda, reminiscent of 2004 and 2009, I am now mentally prepared to have my country ruled over by a man and a party I genuinely believe will be a disgrace in every sense of the term.
I guess many people, including a large number of Indian Americans who adore Modi and the anti-national ideology he represents, will tell me what Giriraj Singh has already spelt out in a rare display of candor in a season of hypocrisy: go to Pakistan. That is the haven supposedly destined to accommodate all those Indians who don’t agree with the idolization of Modi and the vichaar dhara he represents. Why bother with the logistical nightmare of migration? With Modi at the helm and Hindutva the guiding light, India will in all probability become another Pakistan. Now don’t pounce on me listing the virtues of Hinduism. I have no quarrel with anyone on that count; Hindutva is an assault on Hinduism, just as political Islam is on Islam the faith.
Let us be fair. Dr. Pravin Togadia does not fully share Giriraj Singh’s migratory instincts. A religious apartheid will be a more effective solution according to the learned doctor, with the Muslims not only being banished from areas inhabited by the Hindus but also banned from buying property there. If all of them, along with the legion of pseudo-secularists, move away from sight, how will we give vent to our seasonal bouts of genocidal urges? A war is never as much fun as a well-planned carnage with additional delights of plunder and rape, exactly as happened in Gujarat in 2002 under Modi’s very nose.
The most interesting thing about liberal discourse in India today is the credulity with which intellectuals increasingly buy into the myth of a hierarchy of venomousness. The myth has been in circulation since mid-1990s, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was touted as a dove in contrast to L.K. Advani’s hawk, the blood stains on whose hands were still fresh. The next stage in the myth-making was when several political leaders asserted Advani was a paragon of communal harmony compared to Narendra Modi. Advani even went to the extent of praising Muhammad Ali Jinnah much to the chagrin of less intelligent Sangh Parivar elements. In fact, Advani’s Jinnah remark was a master stroke in political self-vindication as the principal criticism against both Jinna’s Muslim League and Advani’s Sangh Parivar has been the same, namely, that the Hindus and the Muslims constituted two different, irreconcilable nations. Once the former is exonerated, the later automatically comes clean. This is all the more so since the original progenitor of the two nation-theory belonged to the revered pantheon of the Sangh Parivar, as is well known. Whatever the case,L.K. Advani has now been unceremoniously consigned to history.
And then came the season of Modi the dove. The quintessential development man, who, unlike Robin Hood, would steal from the poor and give to the rich and thus make India an advanced country, is so peeved at the “irresponsible” statements from his “well-wishers” that he tweeted that they were diverting the campaign from issues of development and good governance. Predictably, there was not even a hint that he disagreed with the substance of the statements. That the state of Gujarat, the paradise of development, is far behind many other states in human development indices is of no relevance since myths are hardly the stuff to be subjected to rational and factual analysis. Moreover, the myth of moderation around Modi has now been canonized. In comparison to Togadia and other more honest fellow-travelers, he looks and sounds moderate indeed. In his golden words uttered just before filing nomination in Varanasi, he even invoked the Ganga-Jamuna tahzeeb!
Development and Charity
Recent history has convincingly shown that development and charity are effective smoke-screens to hide skeletons in the closet. But what is shocking is how a significant section of liberal intelligentsia shamelessly and self-servingly bought into the myth. What is also shocking is how the media has banished substantive critiques of Hindutva from public discourse. Unlike the 1990s, you will not find any critique of Hindutva in the mainstream media. Gone are the days when the writings of Hindutva ideologues such as Savarkar and Golwalkar were analyzed in minute detail and compared with the Constitution and the ideals that the founding fathers lived and died for.
It seems there is a liberal consensus that the Sangh Parivar in general and the BJP in particular have moved far away from Hindutva. For the purpose of keeping the façade of debate and discussion alive, they now discuss the superficialities, such as Modi’s metaphorical inadequacies as manifested in comparing the victims of Gujarat carnage to Kuthe ke bache (puppies) under the wheel. Another favorite theme that anchors on “national channels” bring up in discussions is Modi’s refusal to wear the skullcap. No one in the mainstream media is asking fundamental questions about the ideology that Modi and his party represent. This ideology, amply and eloquently elucidated by the likes of Golwalkar and Savarkar who never suffered from poverty of metaphor the way Modi does, unambiguously argues for turning India into a Hindu Pakistan. Countless issues of Organiser (RSS mouthpiece) and writings by Hindutva ideologues untainted by political opportunism did and continue to echo the fissiparous sentiments expressed by the founding fathers. Forget all these. Someone in the media could have played to Modi or his admirers the poisonous vitriol he was known for until very recently and asked if he regretted it. (Numerous Modi one-liners that make Goebbels run for his money are now largely banished even from the cyberspace. When he made those statements, such as the one on action-reaction, he had only chief ministerial ambitions! Now the man is all set to devour India as a whole).
‘Clinical Case of a Fascist’
The purpose of all that preceded is not to mount a defense for the Congress party or the sundry other formations that are purported to be “secular.” The Sangh Parivar must remain eternally grateful to the Congress for reveling in self-goals with such inimitable felicity. Even on the secularism front, the so called secular parties are hardly clean. The Congress has a long history of presiding over carnages. Samajwadi Party recently proved in Muzaffarnagar that it is not dissimilar when it comes to the art of cynical communal machinations, the rivers of blood notwithstanding. As Mukul Kesavan famously wrote, the only difference between the Congress (May I add here other ‘secular formations’?) and the BJP on the question of secularism is that the former, “by a kind of historical default, is a pluralist party that is opportunistically communal while the BJP is an ideologically communal (or majoritarian) party that is opportunistically ‘secular’.”
The point I am trying to make is simply this: While the Congress can legitimately be questioned when it wrecks the spirit of Indian Constitution, the BJP cannot be because the ideology it represents is unambiguously at odds with the very idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution. Narendra Modi is a true embodiment of Hindutva in word and deed. This is a man who defended one of the worst carnages in our modern history, saying “every action will have an equal and opposite reaction.” Ashis Nandy’s profound description of Modi’s personality bears full reproduction: “Almost nothing reveals the decline and degeneration of Gujarati middle class culture more than its present Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. Not only has he shamelessly presided over the riots and acted as the chief patron of rioting gangs, the vulgarities of his utterances have been a slur on civilized public life. His justifications of the riots, too, sound uncannily like that of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president and mass murderer who is now facing trial for his crimes against humanity. I often wonder these days why those active in human rights groups in India and abroad have not yet tried to get international summons issued against Modi for colluding with the murder of hundreds and for attempted ethnic cleansing. If Modi’s behavior till now is not a crime against humanity, what is?”
“More than a decade ago, when Narendra Modi was a nobody, a small-time RSS pracharak trying to make it as a small-time BJP functionary, I had the privilege of interviewing him along with Achyut Yagnik, whom Modi could not fortunately recognize. (Fortunately because he knew Yagnik by name and was to later make some snide comments about his activities and columns.) It was a long, rambling interview, but it left me in no doubt that here was a classic, clinical case of a fascist. I never use the term ‘fascist’ as a term of abuse; to me it is a diagnostic category comprising not only one’s ideological posture but also the personality traits and motivational patterns contextualizing the ideology.”
If you use the term fascist in the context of Sangh Parivar, many liberals now frown at your insufficient knowledge of modern history. They would self-righteously and didactically tell you that fascism referred to a specific historical juncture in European history and therefore it is wrong to use it in the context of 21st century India. The same worthies never tire of using terms like democracy, civil society, capitalism, liberalism et al as if they had emerged in the “concrete social conditions of modern India.” Even an otherwise highly sensible editor of repute, Vinod Mehta, wrote about “giving Modi a chance.” Chance for what? Even more interesting is the shrill voices of legions of Non-Resident Indians who pour vitriol over anyone who criticizes the Parivar or Modi. They pounce on you from all sides and call you names. They consider themselves patriotic Indians who, in spite of carrying some other country’s passports, take immense pride in India’s glorious past. But their patriotism is so skewed that, while relishing the country’s imagined past and reveling in its glories, they conveniently refused to share its present. Worse, they contribute their own ample share to its possible destruction and destabilization by virtue of their support for India’s loony brigades. One wishes these people utilize their seemingly uninterrupted cyber activism in the service of India’s pluralism and democratic culture!
Narendra Modi may well become the prime minister two weeks from now. The Sangh Parivar may again return to dictating history text book, replacing well-researched lessons with easy assumptions and lazy conclusions. The loony fringe may feel emboldened to hound their pet adversaries again. The Muslims, the second largest majority community in India may begin to feel all the more under siege. But given our past experiences, we can be optimistic that India will survive the Sangh Parivar and Modi.
Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) emergence as a powerful political alternative across the country will soon bring about major transformations in the politics of the country. They may not achieve spectacular gains in this election, but the seeds they sowed will undoubtedly regenerate India in the next few years. As I wrote elsewhere, they mark the second coming of Gandhi and a significant paradigm shift in Indian politics. They offer a politics that is devoid of hackneyed ideological jargons while being fiercely committed to the ethical and moral core of India’s foundational principles. AAP has for the first time brought into the electoral arena some of India’s noble people’s movements and their selfless leaders. An end to their marginalization itself is a revolutionary step in the direction of saving our politics from the professional politicians. Most importantly, here is a political movement that proved, after a long period of bitter confessional adventures in the sphere of politics, that it is possible to mobilize the people purely on the basis of horizontal issues, without even opportunistically resorting to the exploitation of vertical issues. I believe AAP will save India from herself.
Shajahan Madampat is a cultural critic and commentator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org