In a recent interview to Outlook magazine, the Union home minister stated, ‘I abhor communalism’. But the company that he keeps suggests otherwise
IThere was a brief reference made in Parliament to the tirade launched by the sangh parivar against the visit of
the Pope during its brief session in October. The Union home minister, L.K. Advani — a powerful ideologue of the sangh who is also regarded by many as the real power behind the throne — chose his words in Parliament carefully. Even while expressing his “disapproval” of the campaign launched against the arrival of the Pope, Advani appeared very uncomfortable and grudging while “disapproving” the protests.
Two short points need to be made in this regard. Firstly, Advani’s reason for disapproval was on grounds of the Pope being a state guest. By implication this means that if such a vicious campaign was run against a private individual, it may have been permissible in Advani’s worldview. Secondly, the home minister did not propose any remedial step against the hate campaign.
Let us be clear – In a democratic country, demonstrations and protests should never be banned, but civil society must counter any hate campaign systematically launched.
Advani is a highly sophisticated person — his language is refined and courteous. The natural expectation is that his actions should match his outer refinement. Regrettably, they do not.
We need to look back to cite a couple of examples. It seems hardly necessary to go as far back as the bloody rath yatra inspired and led by him which ignited communal killings of a kind that we thought we had left behind us. Advani, we are asked to believe, regrets, in retrospect, his thoughtless actions.
When four nuns in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh were raped in 1998, a number of Hindutvawaadi leaders maintained that Christian missionaries represent “anti–national forces working against Hindu interests in the country” and that the gang–rape was “a reaction to those anti–national activities”.
Peace loving and law–abiding citizens of the country expected Advani to condemn this justification. He did not. When the then Shiv Sena–BJP government in Maharashtra rejected the Srikrishna Commission report (on the Mumbai riots in 1992–93 in which the Shiv Sena fuhrer, Bal Thackeray, among others, has been indicted), home minister Advani said that it is the prerogative of the Maharashtra government to reject it.
Advani did not take any action against the fuhrer when he thundered, while addressing a Dussera rally in Mumbai in 1998, “If any government dares arrest me, the entire city will be go up in flames”. This threat was repeated this year, again during the Dussera rally on October 18, when Thackeray proclaimed that he is above the law: “Those who dare to arrest me will not remain alive”.
One should have thought threatening to murder is a cognisable offence. The Union home minister, Advani, however, has chosen to keep his lips sealed. Which means he is defending a criminal. It is painful to recollect that he, as Union home minister, virtually prostrated before Bal Thackeray for allowing the Pakistan cricket team to play in India! When the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two children were brutally murdered, Advani (again as Union home minister) gave a good character certificate to the VHP and Bajrang Dal telling the nation that there were no “criminals among them”. How could a man of Advani’s learning defend criminals?
It was astounding to hear India’s home minister in this context say that he did not know who had organised the rally from Goa to Delhi protesting against the Pope’s visit. Mr. Advani is either an innocent saint who sees no evil, or he a thoroughly incompetent home minister. Or he is, at all times, in search of escape rotes. The truth is that he does not appear to be an upright man. Nor did he have the courage to state on record in Parliament that his colleague on the treasury benches, B.P. Singhal, belonged to the Sanskriti Raksha Manch, a branch of the VHP, and that it was this outfit that had master–minded the hate campaign.
It does not become a leader like Advani to protect his colleagues in the sangh parivar, whose primary source of inspiration is the philosophy of intolerance and anti-minorityism, a philosophy which has disturbed communal harmony in the past and continues to do so now. Proponents of this worldview are terribly upset over the presence of a hundred million citizens who happen to be Muslims. This philosophy appears to have found a fertile soil in our country.
Advani, both as home minister and as the patron saint of the sangh parivar, should prevent the sowing of seeds of disharmony, dissension, and divisiveness. Again, how could a man who presides over the destiny of 1,000 million people allow disintegration of the country?
Advani has not even expressed disgust at what one of his RSS followers (one Dr. Rastogi) recently declared. He was recently quoted saying with pride that he had shot dead a woman during the 1947 communal holocaust in which he was an active participant.
This retired professor writes in his recently published autobiography: “As a strategy for our security, we decided that whenever we got information about Muslim attacks we should attack first. One such incident occurred (in a Muslim locality, Puran Kaliyar) between Hardwar and Roorkee. They were fully prepared to attack us… When we came to know of this we took 250 people, which included goons, and attacked the Muslim locality. Both sides fought and people from both sides died… A strange incident happened as the attackers (Hindus) started fighting with each other over a beautiful woman … claiming (her) … A solution came to my mind. I shot her dead”.
Regarding Nathuram Godse, Dr. Rastogi writes: “The Partition of the country was based on the two-nation theory and all sort of inhuman treatment was meted out to the Hindus in Pakistan, but Gandhiji did not consider the ouster of Muslims from India as correct. Jinnah was even offered the prime ministership of undivided India by Gandhiji. Even after Partition, Pakistan was given crores of rupees for the canal, thanks to Gandhiji. Annoyed at all these acts of Gandhiji, Nathuram Godse silenced him for ever on January 30, 1948 (Source: Mainstream, October 30, 1999).
The appointment of such a man as expert for selecting the academic staff for NCERT could not have been done without a nod from Advani. How could Advani allow himself to be leader of a formation whose members have a criminal mindset like the one Dr. Rastogi exhibits?
The sangh parivar alleges that Christian missionaries have been converting Hindus, specially Adivasis, into Christianity, and that this should be stopped. The parivar wants a “national debate” on conversion. A couple of points need to be made here.
One, should there be a “national debate” on conversion or on the divinely ordained hierarchical system in Hinduism? This oppressive system has been responsible for the conversion of Hindus, mostly of the Dalits, to Islam and Christianity.
Why is it that the self–proclaimed protectors of Hinduism, the sangh parivar and its leaders L.K. Advani and Atal Behari Vajpayee, are silent on this aspect? Why don’t they condemn the system which is opposed to social democracy and start a movement to demolish the hierarchical system which is responsible for conversion to Christianity and Islam?
Two, why is it that Hinduism did not spread in the past nor is it attractive to non–Hindus even today? Where will they place an Adivasi or any other non–Hindu who may like to be converted to Hinduism, in the hierarchical system? Our society will benefit if Advani gives his whole attention to this aspect of Hinduism, joins and leads those who are striving to close the door on our horrendous system, which stands as an ugly relic of our past.
Archived from Communalism Combat, November 1999. Year 7 No, 53, Opinion