By Amulya Ganguli
Even as the gau rakshaks have yielded place in the media headlines to the Karni Sena, the latter’s crusade against the screening of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, Padmavat, is giving a foretaste of what can be expected if and when India’s present constitutional order is replaced – God forbid! – by Hindu Rashtra.
A few days ago, the BJP MLA from Balia in Uttar Pradesh, Surendra Singh, referred to the country’s transition to a Hindu Rashtra in 2024 when only those Muslims will be allowed to stay who are able to integrate themselves into Hindu society and culture. But even while waiting for this transformation, it is possible to get a glimpse of the changed scenario post-2024 from the activities of the Karni Sena.
Not surprisingly, heading the list of the expected changes is the elimination of existing institutions and their replacement by those in tune with the demands of the new age. Where the Karni Sena is concerned, it is the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) which is likely to be axed since it has shown no hesitation in sanctioning a film which has aroused the ire of the Rajput community for the supposedly erroneous depiction of the life and times of their historical/mythical heroine, Padmavati or Padmini.
In a Hindu Rashtra, a censor board is only expected to approve of films which are in tune with the sentiments of the people, which are to be determined – khap panchayat-style – by the orthodox among the majority community. No quarter will be given to the so-called artistic licence on the plea of allowing freedom of expression as sought by the deracinated left-liberals.
But that’s not all. Any deviation from this exacting standard of conformism where the feelings of the masses are concerned may be violently resisted in order to forewarn other film makers as well as cinema hall owners against being too bold with their presentations of the past – or the present, for that matter.
The role of the police in such a situation is likely to be largely quiescent since the law-enforcing agencies will know that the perpetrators of mayhem are not acting on their own, but are only giving vent to the anger of hoi polloi which they also feel. In all probability, they are likely to be treated with kid-gloves and let off with only a mild reprimand.
Like the police, the judiciary, too, is unlikely to intervene in a manner which will put the blame on the activists and not be rate the institution which passed the film. In any event, the judiciary in a Hindu Rashtra cannot but be quite different in its interpretation of the law from the one in a secular state.
The reason why the Karni Sena, the gau rakshaks, the love jehadis and others belonging to the Hindu Right have come to the forepost-2014 and have been able to get away with their depredations is that a substantial section of the BJP thinks on the same lines as the legislator from Balia.
It is not only their antipathy towards the Muslims which distinguishes them from those who are not admirers of the Hindu Rashtra, but also their disdain for artistic freedom, which made them hound M.F. Husain out the country to his death in exile, and their distinctive interpretation of history which rejects the idea of a composite culture having evolved as a result of centuries of Hindu-Muslim interaction.
Instead, they see history only in terms of continuous conflict between the Hindus and the Muslim invaders, which can only be resolved in a civil war, as the Jan Sangh/BJP’s founder, Syama Prasad Mookerjee predicted, as Tripura’s governor Tathagata Roy has reminded us.
It is not only an anti-Muslim outlook or a unique view of history which mark out the BJP from the “secular” parties. Its reservations about the constitutional order are also known. As the RSS mouthpiece, Organizer, said in 1948, “there is nothing Bharatiya about the constitution … there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia … But to our constitutional pundits, that means nothing”.
Under pressure from the saffron lobby, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government set up a commission under a former chief justice of India, MN Venkatachaliah, to review the constitution. In a memo to this body, the RSS said that the new constitution should mandate the formation of an all-powerful Guru Sabha which will oversee the functioning of the legislature, executive and judiciary. However, the Guru Sabha will not be constituted by elections on the basis of universal adult franchise, but by a restricted electoral college comprising the teachers of schools, colleges and universities.
The touching faith of the RSS in teachers was probably based on the belief that it would not take long for the project of the saffronization of education to brainwash the teachers into accepting the Hindutva worldview. However, Venkatachaliah’s refusal to tamper with the basic structure of the constitution nipped the BJP-RSS project in the bud. But the threat from the Hindu Right to India’s multicultural polity hasn’t gone away. (IPA Service)