By Sushil Kutty
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is not afraid—the ‘Hindu’ in him has taken over, and he is not scared of ‘Hindutva’. Gandhi travelled to Jaipur to clarify this division. Some would call it a “division of Hindu votes”, but Rahul Gandhi was on a larger point—the Gandhi scion isn’t happy that the “back-stabbers” have been in power for eight years and counting. He wants the “Hindu” to return to power though it is the Hindutvadis who hanker for “satta, power.”
AIMIM’s supreme leader Asaduddin Owaisi doesn’t like Rahul Gandhi’s “wants Hindu to return to power” call. Owaisi, who wants a Muslim leadership to emerge in Uttar Pradesh post-elections 2022, says there can only be a “secular agenda” in India. Of course, Owaisi wouldn’t mind the Muslim to return to power and reclaim Lal Qila, but that’s an unsecular agenda, so forget it for the time being.
Question is, is Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM really the BJP’s “B-team”? This question crops up every time election clouds line the sky. The UK-returned ‘Barrister-at-law’ is the only hope for Muslims to grab leadership roles in Uttar Pradesh. And Rahul Gandhi is talking of the “Return of the Hindu.” This was not what Jawaharlal Nehru promised in 1947, and was asserted by Indira Gandhi when she brought the word “secular” into emergency usage.
And while the cry for the “return of the Hindu” resounded in Rajasthan, where the Congress rules, “Hindutva” stalked the newly laid “Kashi Corridor” in Varanasi in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, which is where Rahul Gandhi should have tossed “Hindu against Hindutva” into the mix. The Congress is trailing last in Yogi-land, where Priyanka Vadra Gandhi’s 40 percent “tickets” for women candidates hasn’t made the Ganga lick its banks in anticipation.
It’s a shame, even this one secular poll-plank has drowned in the Hindu-Hindu-Hindu decibels. Will the BJP and “Hindutva” return to power in Uttar Pradesh? The “Hindu” definitely will not—not in the land of Ganga-ghats. The feeling is that the reply to Rahul Gandhi’s clarion call to the “Hindus” will come from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee—she of the “there is no UPA” quote-unquote fame.
Chaotic India is living up to its reputation. Where the ‘Hindu” is still looking for a definition for itself even after thousands of years of existence—that India! The “Hindutvavadi” Shiv Sena is with the UPA, the Congress, and the Gandhi for “Hindu.” Is this real-politick, smart politics, in harmony with the “strange bedfellows” syndrome politics?
Rahul will shake hands with Hindutva in Maharashtra, but slam Hindutva in Rajasthan. “Hindutvavadis will attack me, I am not afraid,” said Gandhi in Jaipur, after batting fervently for ‘Hindu”, eyes and heart grounded on 2024. Nobody knows what Owaisi’s thoughts are about Modi, but the Opposition is dead serious Modi should be dispatched to the political cul-de-sac come 2024. This, when Modi is said to be “panicking” in Uttar Pradesh.
There is a feeling that the Hindu-Muslim vote-bank faceoff is a red herring—the real battle always has been between Hindu and Hindutva. The rightwing raised the Hindutva brigade because it wanted an alternative to the loosely banded Hindu pantheon. So, there was focus on Ram, then on Krishna and so on and so forth. When Rahul Gandhi raised ‘Shiva’, there was disconcert and discomfort, but then Rahul ran to “Muslim Wayanad.”
Now—for the conquest of North India—every political party wants to square off with the majority of the Hindu vote—BJP with “Hindutva”, the Congress with “Hindu”, the Samajwadi Party with “Muslim-Hindu” and the Bahujan Samaj Party tied to its old elephantine “Dalit-Muslim-Upper-caste Hindu” rhetoric! Rahul Gandhi’s Hindu-Hindutva speech has brought out the reality in all the Hindus.
“In the country’s politics today, there is a competition between two words. One word is ‘Hindu’, the second word is ‘Hindutvavadi’. They are not the same. They are two separate words. And their meanings are also different…I am a Hindu but I am not a Hindutvavadi,” said Rahul Gandhi. “Mahatma Gandhi – Hindu, (Nathuram) Godse – Hindutvavadi. A Hindu seeks truth. His path is Satyagraha. The Hindutvavadi seeks sattagrah.”
The divide and rule syndrome in independent India has always been about dividing the “Hindu votes” — till recently between “secular Hindu” and “communal Hindu.” Now, between “Hindu” and “Hindutva.” It took the BJP eight years to sully “Hindutva” enough to turn it into a pariah —an outcast in the pantheon of the Hindu lexicon! (IPA Service)