By Arun Srivastava
As if the ruthless drubbing which RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s politics of Hindutva met at the hands of the Hindus in Karnataka assembly elections, Modi and RSS are moving to implement the Hindutva campaign in Bihar for getting better results in the coming Lok Sabha polls through a Guru.
This time RSS and Modi have entrusted this task to 26 year old Dhirendra Shastri alias Bageshwar Baba, the self-styled peethadhish of the Bageshwar Dham Sarkar, a religious pilgrimage site in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. In Madhya Pradesh, the state administration of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had helped him build his religious aura. The message was spread that he can predict future. He even grasps the problem of a person even without seeing him. It is also said that the self-styled godman can write people’s problem on a piece of paper without asking the affected person.
With his biodata full with such miracles and gains, he has descended in Bihar. Obviously these are sufficient to attract and win the attention of the people of the state. It is said that only two days back around 10 lakh worshippers had descended at his place. Unable to cope with the swelling crowd the organisers, who belonged to BJP, had to cancel the programme. The entire RSS and BJP political eco system has rallied behind him to accomplish the task entrusted to them; project Bageshwar as the new messiah of Hindutva.
Name any BJP leaders, either a senior state leader or a union minister, they would be found present at his place rendering their services and obeisance to Baba. The party has booked a luxury hotel for him in the heart of Patna town, which is always teeming with the BJP leaders. BJP leaders Union Ministers Giriraj Singh and Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, state chief Samrat Chaudhary, and senior leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi, Sanjay Jaiswal and many others have been putting their efforts to make success of Shastri’s event held from May 13 to 17 at Naubatpur locality in Patna. The BJP leaders are hoping that his events will help promote the Hindutva agenda in Bihar. The BJP leaders are quite confident that the new Hindutva mascot in the form of Bageshwar will ensure BJP and RSS arousing the Hindu emotion just ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Shastri is more emphatic than RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in asserting that India will soon turn into Hindu Rashtra. Even Bhagwat dithers and is not so emphatic in coming out with this declaration. Shastri, on the first day of his spiritual discourse advocated for India as a Hindu nation. He said: “One day a saint told me that I am advocating for the Hindu nation, how is it possible? I replied to him that India is already a Hindu nation and its announcement will be made soon.” No doubt while this statement created a massive controversy as leaders of different political parties on Sunday reacted sharply to his statement, the BJP leaders were ebullient as someone from outside their rank, a revered religious priest, has come out with this assertion.
Shastri has been in Patna for more than 10 days and he would be in the till at least January 2024. The task for him is quite arduous. He has to perform tight rope walking, enthuse the Hindus of Bihar, which Modi could not accomplish in Karnataka. To make him identify with the poor and landless labourers of the state, BJP eco system is working overtime to spread the message across that Shastri had spent his child amid poverty. His entire family used to live in mud house. Dhirendra completed his primary education from the government school in village. His father brought up the family with his earning as a priest. Obviously this is enough for the people of rural Bihar to nurse soft corner in their hearts for him.
Shastri would be coming to Patna was announced some time back. But he will camp here till next January has come as a surprise for many, especially for the anti-BJP forces and parties. This came public only after BJP met with waterloo in Karnataka. Mritunjay Tiwari, the national spokesperson of RJD said; “We have an apprehension about Dhirendra Shastri visiting Patna that he would talk about discrimination in the society on the basis of religion and our apprehension has proved to be right. He has come to Patna to run the political agenda of the BJP and RSS”.
Almost all the right-wing Hindu organisations who have been functioning from the orbit of the RSS have become proactive. The upper caste people, particularly the Bhumihars, have taken the lead. Of late the areas of central Bihar—Patna, Bhojpur, Gaya, Aurangabad—have been at his target. These areas have witnessed fierce class struggle, landlords and feudal led by private militia Ranbir Sena on one hand and landless labourers, harijans and SC on the other from late sixties to eighties.
Taking a leaf out of Netaji’s appeal “ give me blood, I will give you freedom”, the Baba had told his Hindu followers in Madhya Pradesh on the 126 birth anniversary of Netaji ; “Tum mera saath do, main tumhe Hindu Rashtra doonga, (Give me your support, I will give you a Hindu nation)”. Word is being spread; “supporting Baba is supporting Hindu Rashtra”. It is alleged that the BJP political eco system shifted him to Bihar after he was challenged to show his miracle by a Maharashtra based organisation, Andh Shraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Committee for abolition of blind faith) which dubbed him a fraud for promoting superstitions and challenged him to join their satsang (religious program).
On January 20, Shastri had vowed that as long as he is alive, he would strive for the “Ghar Wapsi” of converted Hindus. “Ghar Wapsi” is a misnomer used by the Hindu right to create a narrative in which they claim that Muslims and Christians living in India were originally Hindus and as such need to return (wapsi) to their home (ghar) religion of Hinduism.
But the going for Shastri in Bihar does not appear to be too smooth either. Already a number of secular and left forces have started voicing their protest. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday reacted strongly to his contentious comment of making India a “Hindu nation”, saying these comments had no value as they were made by those who had no knowledge of the country’s freedom struggle or the Constitution. Those talking about such things (Hindu nation) were not born when the country became independent and the Constitution was implemented.”
He even said; “We have seven communities in the country – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains and people of these communities have equal rights as per the constitution. The number of Parsis in the country is small, they mainly live in the Mumbai region but they have equal rights and we respect it. We always ensure that no one would feel any inconvenience in any community in Bihar. It is not allowed to say anything beyond the Constitution. If anyone wants to amend the Constitution, it needs two-third majority in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Amendment happened only with the decision of all parties”.
The only senior BJP leader who does not share the views of Shastri is the union minister R K Singh. At a function in his home town Ara while expressing ignorance about Shastri he said; “Who is Baba Bageshwar? I have no knowledge about him. I don’t know any Bageshwar Baba.” Obviously it implied that a section of the BJP leaders is not pleased with the strategy of the party to promote Hindutva agenda in Bihar through Bageshwar Baba..
Shastri’s comment that turning India a Hindu Rashtra will finish the menace of ‘love jihad’ for ever. He remarked “Conversion, love jihad and brain washing will stop the day India becomes a Hindu rashtra”. He said; Hindustan means ‘Hinduon ka Sthaan’ (place for Hindus). We want Hindu Rashtra based on Sanatan Dharma. If they declare Hindu Rashtra, we will follow up with the demand for Akhand Bharat.” (IPA Service)