By Amulya Ganguli
There are two probable reasons why the BJP is celebrating M.S. Golwalkar’s birth anniversary with such fanfare. In the last six and a half years of its rule at the centre, the party’s reticence on the saffron brotherhood’s most controversial ideologue was noticeable. In fact, the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, had even distanced the Sangh parivar from the views of the second sarsanghchalak because “samai badalta hai, hamari soch badalti hai” (times change, our thinking changes.
Why, then, the sudden focus on Sri Guruji, as Golwalkar is known to the followers of Hindutva ? One reason may well be the BJP’s growing confidence in its rising political profile, which, it believes, will be reaffirmed by electoral successes in West Bengal and Assam in the near future. However, the other reason is the exact opposite. It is possible that the BJP has become somewhat uneasy not only about the continuing farmers’ agitation, but also the attention it is getting in the outside world with several international celebrities offering their support to the protesters.
Besides, India’s democratic credentials are coming under a strain. As Time magazine has asked, how long will Biden pretend Modi’s India is a democratically? Therefore, at an uncertain time like this, perhaps the party feels the necessity of highlighting its roots. And who can exemplify its basic tenets better than Golwalkar with his unequivocal enunciation of the parivar’s doctrines.
One of these is the identification of Muslims and Christians as the country’s “internal enemies” whom the Hindus needed to oppose in colonial times and not “waste” their time fighting the British. And the other is the dictum about the minorities being second class citizens who deserve no privileges. Few will doubt that these views have remained the BJP’s guiding points to this day.
Hence, the garlanding of a saffron lynch mob by a Union minister, the threat to shoot the “traitors” by another with no one having any doubt about who are the “traitors”, the spectre of a looming Caliphate being seen by a BJP M.P. in a gathering of Muslims in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and the fears expressed by another about marauding Muslim groups emerging from the protest site to rape and kill Hindu women. When the Union culture ministry refers, therefore, to Golwalkar as a “source of inspiration”, it is not far wrong although its interpretation of the fallout of the stimulus provided by the ideologue may be different from that of the parivar’s critics.
There is little doubt, however, that Golwalkar’s extollation will reveal the real face of the BJP and the RSS. Up until now, the two have treaded carefully on both Golwalkar and Nathuram Godse although politicians like Sakshi Maharaj and Sadhvi Pragya have sometimes let their guards down to praise Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin. The latter still formally remains persona non grata for the Hindutva parivar, but Golwalkar’s emergence from the shadows means that the saffronities are becoming bolder in the matter of coming out in their true colours.
The earlier habit of tightrope walking followed by Atal Behari Vajpayee and other moderates (they were always few in number) has now been shed in favour of articulating the parivar’s weltanschauung which makes no bones about where the saffron brotherhood stands with regard to the direction in which it wants to take India. The change has been nothing other than dramatic considering that while Vajpayee had put in cold storage the three main items on the Hindutva agenda – the temple construction, the abrogation of Article 370 and the introduction of a uniform civil code – the new dispensation at the centre has stormed ahead with the accomplishment of the first two even if it is dithering on the third. The lauding of Golwalkar is in sync with this latest aggressive approach which has bade farewell to the Vajpayee era.
It is necessary to remember, however, that much of this combativeness is dependent on the BJP’s belief that it is on a winning spree based on the prime minister’s popularity and the party’s robust organizational machine. The conviction that everything is going for it is also enhanced by an anaemic opposition. Moreover, the BJP is dismissive of whatever resistance it faces from the likes of the Shaheen Bagh or the farmers’ protests which it sees as the outcry of frustrated groups which are out of touch with the real world where the BJP reigns supreme. The party also has the same disdain for the deracinated Left-Liberal intelligentsia.
There may be some disquiet in the saffron circles about the signs of disenchantment in the Western world, but the government tries to deflect them by organizing all-expenses paid junkets for foreign diplomats to Kashmir after restoring high-speed Internet connections and putting grumpy and garrulous former chief ministers under house arrest. But these are not a permanent panacea. Nor is it absolutely certain that the BJP will win all the elections in the coming days. In case the tide shows signs of turning, the Golwalkar gamble may prove costly. (IPA Service)