The BJP’s National Council meeting was held last week, sending clear signals about the agenda and ambitions of the BJP and the Modi Government.
The new BJP President Amit Shah outlined the plan to repeat the BJP’s spectacular UP success story, ensure BJP victories all over the country, and achieve dominance and hegemony for the BJP’s ideology. Enumerating the reasons for the BJP’s UP success, Shah cited the BJP’s “right approach in social engineering.” Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, breaking a two month long silence with his speech at the BJP National Council meet, referred to concerns about communal polarization in UP, as “vote bank politics.” The obvious question here, of course, is this: in what way is what Amit Shah hails as “social engineering,” different from what Modi calls “vote bank politics’?
The exact nature of the BJP’s “social engineering” can be gauged by the investigative reports by an English daily about communal conflicts in UP. The paper found that there have been more than 600 plus instances of communal tension in UP since the Lok Sabha polls, mostly around the 12 constituencies where by-elections are shortly due. The paper documented how loudspeakers, kids’ bicycles, dhaba bills and runaway lovers have all become pretexts for flaring up of communal polarisation and potential riots. The paper reported that a vast number of these ‘engineered’ conflicts have been between Dalits and Muslims. The BJP’s ‘social engineering’ has involved the deliberate efforts to sow the seeds of hatred among Dalits against Muslims, in order to reap a harvest of votes later.
One of the key tools of this saffron “social engineering” has been to communalize consensual relationships and rape cases alike, to promote the bogey of “love jehad” by Muslim men against Hindu women. Towards this, the RSS launched a vicious campaign to use the Rakshabandhan festival as an occasion to tie Rakhis to lakhs of Hindu men, asking them to pledge to protect their sisters from Muslim men and “love jehad,” and the VHP runs a ‘helpline’ urging Hindus to approach them “if your daughter is being harassed by Muslim boys.” The Supreme Court has had to warn against attempts to communalize rape allegations in Western UP that threaten to destroy the secular fabric of the country.
What is the ideology that Amit Shah for which seeks to achieve unchallenged dominance? The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has underlined the true nature of that ideology in a recent statement, that the inhabitants of Hindustan are all Hindus. This refrain of the RSS is based on the false suggestion that ‘Hindustan’ is the land of the followers of the ‘Hindu’ faith. The fact is that the word ‘Hindustan’ (and likewise the word ‘Hindu’ and ‘Indian’ both) derive from the Persian word for the land and the people around the Sindhu river. These words themselves are testimony to India’s composite culture, that the RSS’ myth-making cannot erase. Much like the RSS chief, the Goa Deputy Chief Minister also recently declared that “India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus,” and a Goa minister Dipak Dhavalikar declared, “We should support Modi as he will develop India into a Hindu nation.” These statements make it very clear that the “social engineering” of the RSS and BJP involves creating a Hindu “vote bank”, in fact a “Hindu nation”, one in which people of other faiths will be subordinated and subjected to humiliation and violence. This agenda was outlined long back by the RSS founders, but Indian people have rejected it till now. Under the Modi Government, the RSS and BJP dream of actually achieving that agenda. After Gujarat, UP is the next saffron laboratory, and the BJP hopes to repeat UP on a larger scale all over the country.
The problem is that the Modi Government was not elected primarily for its communal plank. It rode the dissatisfactions and anger of the people against the Congress regime. And now, the Modi Government is widely perceived as continuing the Congress-UPA’s policies of corporate appeasement and ant-people policies. In fact, Amit Shah’s speech indicates that even the few rights and entitlements that the people’s movements wrested from the UPA Government, such as right to employment (MNREGA) or the Land Acquisition legislation, will now be rolled back. Rubbishing what he called ‘entitlement based policies’, Shah declared that for the BJP, ‘empowerment’ came first and ‘entitlement’ would flow naturally from ‘empowerment’ and ‘good governance.’ He specifically said that the Modi Government consider “neither framing of an act nor an agitation by the people” as required to ensure people’s rights, which should flow “automatically” from the “right conditions.” This corporate- and imperialism-inspired economic and political philosophy was expressed even more blatantly by BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy in a talk recently, where he referred to the poor as “parasites on the state.”
The BJP’s pro-corporate policies call the bluff of its own election-time pro-poor posturing, and the sinister communal agenda of the RSS and BJP threaten the basic fabric of democracy in India.