Friday, October 31, 2014
Building political capital on hate propaganda
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
It is a reminder bell that rings every year which has not changed us to the core. The horrific crimes against humanity perpetrated by the political goons in the dark night of October 31st till a couple of days of November 1984 after the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was declared officially ‘dead’ and which remain unpunished till date is not just a matter of shame but absolute failure of our democracy. A truly democratic system would have envisaged ways and means to tackle such a situation in future but instead people became ‘football’ in the political games of those who have least concern about loss of human lives and sentiments. Punjab was bleeding when India got partitioned in 1947 and Sikh community felt betrayed as many of their issues remained unsettled politically. Sikh nationalism has to be merged into pan Indian Nationalism dictated and dominated by the brahmanical Hindus.
In the din of Pan Indian nationalism, we refused to understand the Punjab’s hurt psyche and wanted to resolve it through military solution in the very similar way of what we are doing in Kashmir. We want referendum on every conflict but not in those regions but in rest of the country. The people of the state had lost faith in administration and politicians were reaping rich harvest on ‘action’ against ‘terrorism’ in rest of the country. So, you take ‘strong’ ‘action’ against ‘terrorist’ and rest assure, you will get a good crop of votes elsewhere. The farcical first past the post system that we inherited from the British is actually now the best weapon for our political class to use against minorities ‘legitimately’.
Political killing cannot help restore peace and resolve a crisis but we saw how everybody used Indira Gandhi’s killing as a political weapon for their own interest. The Congress Party used her killing as a killing of ‘Bharat Mata’ and Rajiv was using all the good words that emerged from ‘Hindutva’ dictionary that time. Maa, Ganga Maa and everything is same which is being used by Narendra Modi today. Indian sentiments have been very openly and unambiguously have to be brahmanical Hindu sentiments. The Hindutva elements inside Congress used it and hence the mandate that Rajiv got in 1984 was thoroughly communal mandate based on hate propaganda. It does not matter whether BJP was zero or two member strength in the Parliament as the ideology preached by the Hindutva won that time. So, to say that Hindutva politics came just when BJP assumed power is absolutely wrong and does not take into account the brahmanical games of the Congress Party. India’s mainstream political parties have seen systematic Hindutvaisation process which was the agenda of Sangh Parivar. Hinduise the polity they wanted and once that was done political parties were unable to challenge the process ideologically. It seems Hindutva has become the main theme and parties want to stick to it and not to question it.
We did not learn from such a crime against humanity when state became a party to it and abdicated its responsibility to protect its citizens irrespective of their caste, religion, region as promised in our constitution. It is not that Congress only was using Hindutva for its own purposes. Many of the Sikh groups also praised the killers and some of them celebrated Indira Gandhi’s killing too. Even today there are many such groups in UK and Canada which keep celebrating her death. These unfortunate things come handy for hate monger as a tiny incident become a powerful weapon of propaganda by the political opponents. It is according to our suitability who can fetch us vote hence for Modi it is Godhra victims, for Congress it is Indira’s martyrdom, for Akalis it is the murderers of Indira Gandhi and that reflects the bankruptcy of our political parties and their thought process where they assume people to absolute fool and apolitical.
Rumours have always been used to develop hatred towards minority and the marginalized to ensure a consolidation of so-called ‘majority’ for political purpose. So 1984 and 2002 are may look different to some people but they are complimentary to each other. The mask of dominance has changed but it remained quintessentially Hindu hatred towards Sikh in Delhi and Muslims in Gujarat. The leaders might emerge from different political parties, one ‘so called secular and the other so called communal but the leadership, ideology of these parties remain consolidated in the hands of caste Hindus. So the consolidation of upper caste Hindus towards Hindutva philosophy is not a sudden phenomenon as it is a political weapon for power and minorities of different variety will automatically become the victim of this maneuvering.
Many people suggest that in 1984 it was the Congress leaders who committed the crime against humanity. Yes, Congress found that secular mask would not help them much in elections and hence it trended dangerously towards Hindutva and fact is all the events that led to army operation at the Harminder Saheb need to interrogated and analysed carefully. Right from Kashmir to Punjab, Indira Gandhi was using the Hindu card and Rajiv did the same after her death. You need to create a villain for the greater ‘majority’ consolidation and martial castes become the real tool to ‘act’ on the ground. This is the real functioning of the status quoists that they use the ‘victims’ to victimize others. In the cases of riots everywhere urbanized Dalits, OBCs are used even when the leaders of these groups may hail from the upper caste Hindu background as the ‘leader’ has to fight elections too.
If you are not convinced then I can put a small question. May be ‘experts’ can analyse the trend of
Trilokpuri incident last week and compare it with what happened on the nights of October 31st and first week of November 1984. The victims in 1984 were Sikhs and this time Muslims but the perpetrators were political goons of Congress that time and this time of the Hindutva party and I can bet the ‘actors’ may be the same who are ‘professionals’ who have become ‘nationalists’ ensures every different thought and look should be ‘treated’ properly. It is therefore essential to see India’s political trends not in terms of Congress or BJP but in terms of majoritarianism at the cost of minorities. If this trend is not arrested we will see more blood bath. India’s electoral system has actually converted minorities into a sandwich between different authoritarian brahmanical parties and unless our electoral system is not changed completely we will see more communal slaughter to ‘anoint’ so messiahs over us.
The failure of the victim getting justice has given bigger propaganda material to those whose ideology was responsible for the crisis that we face in India today. Just yesterday the government of India decided to ‘increase’ amount of compensation to five lakh rupees to the people killed in ‘communal violence’. Shamelessly, the entire issue has been communalized with a clear agenda of going to polls in Punjab exclusively in the coming years. One must ask as whether people who have been slaughtered in Gujarat in 2002 and who happened to be Muslims will also get any compensation on account of this? Years after year, we see killings of Dalits by the caste Hindus and yet not a single case has been taken to conclusion. India must ask a question to itself why in the past 60 years, none of those responsible for communal carnage have been given any sentences by the courts. In fact, all those who are responsible for such disturbances and hatred are reaping rich harvest politically. Our judiciary has to introspect as why there is such antipathy on part of our state and the system which claim to be ‘one of the best’. Riots after riots and there is no lessons. Tragedies are occurring on larger scales and yet state remains mute and in the riots cases if we follow them diligently the ‘professionals’ are caught but the real ‘actors’ behind the crime are roaming free and have political protection and power at their hand. When will we see the day when politicians who reaping this ‘rich harvest of hatred’ get sentences by our courts. Unless that is done, we will continue to see the crop of hatred which will empower a few of our politicians but definitely weaken the whole idea of India.
In 1984, we had still good people around us in the media who raised the issue and have been fighting for the rights of the people who were slaughtered. We cannot imagine that now as the time has changed and media has been converted into the propaganda tool of the ruling party. That over 10000 people were killed all over the country and in the most brutal manner and yet we as a nation could not provide a healing touch to them is a shame. It is double shame when people who themselves butcher another minority and discriminate among different minorities create a deliberate and mischievous misunderstanding of an entire thing which is nothing but majoritarianism and its brutal repercussion on minorities. It is the power of these dominant and powerful majoritarian political classes which has resulted in the massacres of people after independence. They will blame each other but the fact is that they perpetuated it. Unambiguously, it is the idea of majority dominance in democracy where minorities have to just succumb and follow the diktats. We are witnessing it at every level.
India does not need to choose between an Iron man and Iron woman. The Iron man was a Congressman and a Gandhian though with a feudal mind and the iron woman too displayed similar anti-democratic tendencies many time. Ofcourse, if commitment to socialism and India’s marginalized and minorities are concern, iron woman as well as her father would be considered far above the ‘iron man’ of India but at the core of their heart both the Iron woman and Iron Man were ‘dictatorial’ in nature. We need to go beyond the rhetoric of individuals and come back to work according to the spirit of our constitution and international laws. Remembering leaders is good but using them for political purposes must stop now. We do not need messiah as they have done enough damage to us making us absolutely ‘devotees’ without ever thinking and respecting rights of others. There is no doubt that Congress leadership had gone overboard in promoting their Nehru Gandhi family but things were never as awkward and explicit as they are looking today. With pettiness being visible at the highest level, Indian continue to show how immature as a democracy they are and how we live in bitterness giving full freedom to those who continue to enjoy great harvest of hatred. Whoever be at the helm of affairs in Delhi or state, it is the people who will have to pay price. A country is known from the society it has and event managements will not ensure future of its children, women and men. The attitude to look down upon the minorities in suspicion and giving legitimacy to all forms of accusations and violence against them must stop at all level.
The electoral system which benefitted Congress is now helping the BJP but the victims remain the minorities. The propaganda is mostly based on individual incidents where persons from minority or marginalized communities are involved. Their ‘action’ results in negative portrayal of the entire community and ‘need’ strong ‘reaction’. We have seen such ‘reactions’. Majority symbols too are being supplied for children, young and adults in large quantity these days.
They mean nothing but everything and have become license to intimidate others who do not look like ‘us’. Every morning we are hearing these heavily loaded slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ not out of our own self but to provoke ‘others’ who may not be having the same idea about this concept. If patriotism and nationalism can be certified just on the basis of a few empty slogans, India would not have had any problem but it is much bigger than this. Gandhi was killed and his killings have been justified so was the killings of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv. Godhra was justified and so was the massacre of Delhi in 1984 and Gujarat in 2002. Hundreds of other riots and pogroms have happened in India and our notoriety is in justifying them.
Our political system has not yet evolved and may be the political parties do not want that to evolve fully to convert us into a complete democracy where each one of us express our opinion without any fear and each of the communities living in India has enough participation in our power structure. We will not have people crying for justice then when each one of us will feel the pain of them. Why should the victims of pogroms of 1984 and 2002 be referred to with particular political slants? They were Indians and therefore India needs to respond to this that both the massacres at 1984 and 2002 are blot to its face and reflect draconian majority tendencies afraid of minority assertion or dissent.
Democracies mature from the accidents of history so that such things do not happen again by providing level playing fields and ensuring through speedy justice without any political manipulations. Will our political leaders rise above narrow and petty political interests and allow justice to be done to those who have been used as fodder to reach power structure. People must not allow themselves to be used in such a way as such games are not over and some other day we will see other games where people are killed and justification being provided by those in power.