By Arun Srivastava
Aggressive Rahul Gandhi in his exertion to expose the allegory of Narendra Modi of being the real face of Hindu and Hindutva got himself ensnared into the trap laid down by RSS. Rahul should have realised that Congress’s stand for soft Hindu or Hinduism would not be able to counter the saffron politics of Hindutva.
While addressing a rally in Jaipur on Friday, Rahul Gandhi said Hinduism as Hindu religion was different from the Hindutva ideology practiced by RSS; the latter was about targeting innocent minorities. Though the rally was organized to target rising prices and inflation, Rahul used his address to draw a distinction between ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindutva’ which he asserted is just a political tool to grab power. Giving precedence to religion over inflation which is highest in the decade, Rahul has validated the allegation of his detractors of being political naïve.
Significantly at the same rally his sister, the general secretary of the Congress, Priyanka Gandhi focussed on the mismanagement of the economy and accused Modi of selling the national asset and property whatever her party had built in 70 years, to his industrialist friends. She alleged that the Modi government is working for select industrialist friends and not for the good of the people and farmers of the country.
In fact Rahul has decided not to take lessons from the past. In 2019 the Congress had tried to play the card of soft Hindutva and Hinduism. But it failed to yield result. At one stage, nearly a fortnight ahead of the Lok Sabha a scenario of Congress improving its performance better than the 2014 election was surfacing, but RSS resorted to hard Hindutva and finished the Congress.
Rahul should realise that L K Advani through his Ram Mandir movement and rath yatra had regimented the psyche of the middle class and rich Hindus to such an extent that these enabled Modi to build his political edifice on the foundation of Hindutva laid down by Advani. The regimentation is so acute and intense that it has given birth to vigilante and hate violence, culture of lynching and a new face to BJP. The indoctrination has encouraged the Hindus not to obstruct their sons from transforming into mercenaries. These people feel elated at their sons speaking the language of hate politics and actively taking to communal violence.
In such a backdrop how far Rahul’s plea that Hindutva is anti Hindu would impress the Hindus is not clear. Almost all the attempts to project Hinduism as superior to Hindutva has failed. Even the theory of soft Hindutva did not make much impact on the minds of Hindus.
At the Mehengai Hatao rally, Rahul Gandhi presaging that there is a fundamental difference between a Hindu and a Hindutva-vadi has very few takers. He said, “I am a Hindu, but I am not a Hindutva-vadi. All of us are Hindus. Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu but Nathuram Godse was a Hindutva-vadi.”
Rahul tried to link inflation with Hindutva-vadis and argued that if there is suffering in the country, then this has been done by Hindutva-vadis who are currently in power. This is factually correct, but he could not effectively correlate the two. For doing this he ought to have focussed on the economic crisis the country was facing, the sufferings of the working class. He should have instead highlighted how the laborers and small and medium business are sacrificed to serve the interest of the capitalists, rich and corporate.
It is sad that Rahul often fails to identify himself with the prevailing political scenario and developments. During UPA II his political stance simply alienated the middle class. The middle class people are yet to forget the ill treatment meted out to Dr Manmohan Singh and the reluctance of the Congress leadership to stand by him. Even his showing concern for Kalawati failed to win over the poor and working class people. The Congress could not effectively capitalize the MGNREGA programme meant for the poor.
Congress claims that he raised the issue of the workers and poor fleeing the cities in the wake of the covid epidemic making waves, but it is also a fact that it lacked that punch and strength. He could have activated the local district level Congress workers to arrange food and health care for the fleeing workers. It is a known fact that nearly 200 labourers died while fleeing. He could have asked Congress run state governments to play a proactive role.
It is a known fact that RSS and BJP have been using politics of Hindutva to grab power. Obviously the Congress would have to evolve its new strategy to counter the saffron tactics. Simply harping on that Congress has been following India’s cultural values would not do. In the time of globalisation and crypto currency the people are less interested in culture. It is the mall culture that defines the way of life. He must have noticed that the rich and middle class were not so keen the help the suffering workers and poor when they were fleeing the cities after the emergence of covid epidemic.
The poor and youths belonging to lower middle class are suffering the pangs of unemployment, but the rich, aristocrate and upper middle class are least bothered of their plights and miseries. They never question or condemn the economic policies of Modi. They even did not extend moral support to the 13 month long farmers’ movement. Their apathy was quite visible. It is indeed shocking that their affection for Hindutva has been influencing the Hindu poor. The abject commercialisation of the religious ceremonies has embellished impact on the lower middle class, poor and working class. They do not hesitate to borrow or take loans from money lenders to perform religious rituals. For fulfilling their desire and yearnings, they are surrendering their identity and existence before the gods and goddesses.
Naturally in this backdrop it would be not less than naivety to expect that the people would differentiate between Hinduism and Hindutva. Congress must focus on the economic issues and the financial crisis the people of the country were faced with. It was purely an act of passing by reference when Rahul said “This rally is about inflation and unemployment. You all are at the receiving end of price rise. All this is because leaders are not running the country, but 3-4 capitalists are.” Instead he should have exposed and elaborated their design. Instead of distinguishing Hinduism and Hindutva, Rahul should have explained how Hindutva was being used to ruthlessly exploit the people of the country.
There is no denying the fact that Priyanka Gandhi has more clarity and unblemished vision than Rahul about the nature and content of the politics being practiced by the saffron. It is clearly evident from what she said at Jaipur; “There are two types of government. The goal of the first type of government is service, dedication and truthfulness to the public and there is a government whose target is lies, greed and loot. The target of the present central government is lies, greed and loot”. She accused Modi government of wanting to sell to industrialist friends whatever the Congress built in 70 years. Priyanka remarked, “Modi government at the Centre repeatedly questions what Congress has done in 70 years. I say leave the talk of 70 years. Tell us what you have done in seven years?”
Rahul should have deciphered Modi’s move to repeal the three black laws. What made him take this step and sacrifice his pride and arrogance? Farmers have been on satyagrah for a year but their miseries did not move him; even death and suicides by 700 farmers failed to have any impact on his morality and conscience. He resorted to this move only after he realized that the farmers’ movement would change the character and text of the political institution and revive the democratic institution which he was gradually but systematically crushing. An early ghar wapasi of farmers would provide the RSS and BJP the opportunity to use the theory of religion to win back the farmers and consolidate its position.
Varanasi witnessed a duet between religion and politics on December 13. Lord Shiv is a soft and passionate individual. Though he carries arms, he is never seen to use them. It simply manifests the self defensive posture of lord Shiva. Though he is supposed to be destroyer there is no historical fact available which confirms that he destroyed anything except the pride of an arrogant person, the king. But Shiv of Kshi is different, He is not the lord Shiv of Hindus. Surrounded by the Brahmins, who have been perpetrating their brahminical rule on his name, Shiv is used by RSS and BJP to communalise the Hindu society.
Hundred twenty years back, Mahatma Gandhi writes in his autobiography, in 1902 he visited Gyanvapi in Varanasi but did not find the God. The Brahmins were more interested in making money. A Brahmin even cursed him for paying one paisa of that time. It is sad that the political establishment of India is more interested in turning the people anti-scientific. Earlier political establishment had promised to provide a scientific society to the country. But now in 21 st century we are systematically forced to move away from the scientific way of life. WE are made to blindly follow religion as the essence and way of life. People have turned more interested in material gains and a perception is gaining ground that this could be achieved by worshiping gods. (IPA Service)