Constructing the Muslim as Enemy: RSS-BJP Gameplan for 2019

Written by Shamsul Islam | Published on: July 21, 2018

Our prime minister has cracked the winning formula. Horses for courses: More wealth for the rich, Hindutva for the poor".

 

Hindu India
Representation Image

 
The writing is on the wall. With nothing else to show for itself, the next Indian parliamentary elections slated for the first half of 2019 (though there are some political commentators who predict that the election itself may not take place!) will be held on the carefully constructed binary of the persecuted 'Hindus' versus the ‘appeasement of minorities, specially, 'Muslims'. It was the RSS thatd declared immediately after Narendra Modi's ascendency to power in 2014 that the latter's rule was a return of Hindu rule after one thousand years, and also that, with this 'Hindu rule', the Hindu ‘nation’ would be cleansed of Muslims by 2021.  
 
These Hindutva zealots, that had set the deadline for the conversion of the Indian democratic-secular Republic into a Hindu state/nation at 2021, nevertheless seemed to be in an extra-ordinary hurry. With Modi's coming to power, the violence against Muslims and Christians and their religious institutions has instantly increased, many-fold. These were not just physical attacks. They were also accompanied by a brazen nation-wide campaign of converting Muslims and Christians to the ‘Hindu fold’ called 'ghar wapasi'. This campaign was unleashed and patronised by the State and glorified by the media in general. In less than a year of Modi rule, Julio Ribeiro (renowned retired IPS officer who served as Mumbai police commissioner, DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab and as former Indian ambassador to Romania) expressed his anguish [The Indian Express, March 17, 2015]against the Hindutva zealots in the following words:
 
"Today, in my 86th year, I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country.  The same category of citizens who had put their trust in me to rescue them from a force they could not comprehend have now come out of the woodwork to condemn me for practicing a religion that is different from theirs. I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra."

He was clear about those who were patronizing such criminal elements against the Christian population, a mere 2 percent of the total populace, "Is it coincidence or a well-thought-out plan that the systematic targeting of a small and peaceful community should begin only after the BJP government of Narendra Modi came to power last May? 'Ghar wapsi', the declaration of Christmas as 'Good Governance Day', the attack on Christian churches and schools in Delhi, all added to a sense of siege that now afflicts these peaceful people."

Julio Ribeiro feared in the same write-up that "if these extremists later turn their attention to Muslims, which seems to be their goal, they will invite consequences that this writer dreads to imagine". Recent utterances and actions of the RSS/BJP rulers in the brazen demonizing of Indian Muslims despite the fact that the they hold constitutional positions and are oath-bound to protect India’s democratic-secular polity, have proven Ribeiro’s fearful predictions to be absolutely true. The main opposition party Congress is being described a 'party of Muslims' as if Muslims were some kind of Untouchables in the political landscape, a group to be both hated and abandoned. How much disdain RSS/BJP has for Muslims was made clear during last UP assembly elections when no Muslim (who constitute about 20% of the total electorate in the state) were fielded by the BJP.

This hatred for Muslims is ingrained in the RSS/BJP rulers as this is what they have imbibed in the boudhik shivirs (ideological camps) conducted by RSS ideologues. The most prominent ideologue of RSS, Guru Golwalkar in his book, Bunch of Thoughts (holy book for RSS cadres) devoted a chapter (xiv) discussing 'Internal Threats' in which all Indian Muslims were declared as Internal Threat number ONE and all Indian Christians as Internal Threat number TWO.

Another important ideologue of the RSS, Deendayal Upadhyaya described Indian Muslims not as equal citizens but as the "complex problem" which "is the oldest, the most complicated" problem being faced by the Hindus "for the last twelve hundred years”. Even the liberal mask of the RSS fraternity, former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, demanded that Muslims of India should be 'purified' by giving Hindu samskaras. The present PM keeps harping on this and misses no opportunity to demand the same purification of Indian Muslims.

This characterization of followers of Islam in India needs to be compared with what Swami Vivekananda, who is described as a philosopher of Hindutva, said about Islam. According to him "if ever any religion approached to this equality in an appreciable manner, it is Islam and Islam alone". He concluded that "for our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam 'Vedanta brain and Islam body' is the only hope...I see in my mind's eye the future perfect India arising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body". Swami innumerable times praised Christianity for its love of poor and spirit of sacrifice which is decreed as Internal Threat number TWO by the RSS.

How fictitious the bogey of Muslim appeasement in India spread by RSS fraternity is, can be known by the official data and surveys. The Sachar Committee report  (2006) which was the most authentic study (based on the official records) clearly showed that Indian Muslims were placed below Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in backwardness. Muslims had the lowest average monthly per capita expenditure among all communities. There was a huge mismatch between the percentage of Muslims in the population and in decision making positions such as the IAS and IPS, and the general poor representation of the community in the police. As per the Census of 2001, Muslims were 13.43% of India’s population but according to the Sachar Committee report percentage of Muslims in the IAS and IPS was 3% and 4% respectively.

The Muslims of India pose no challenge to political, social, educational and economic hegemony of the majority community which is presented as victim by the RSS/BJP rulers. Evaluating the allegation of Muslim appeasement, Julio Ribeiro in an amazing piece (THE MAJORITY COMPLEX, The Indian Express, May 17, 2017) wrote that the claim that Muslims were pampered for vote-bank  politics is not true: " In actual fact, all concessions made to Muslims were made to their religious leaders on matters that the latter arbitrarily interpreted as affronts to their personal laws. The community, as such, continued to live in poverty, no attention being paid to the education or health of its members, particularly women, because of which the community continued to remain backward." Another worrying reality, and a blow to India’s secular state is how Hindu holymen/women have been accorded status of cabinet ministers under the present regime.

The reality is that construct of the Muslim enemy is a ploy to hide the nefarious agenda of the RSS about Indian Hindus, democratic-secular polity and love for money bags. It declares without any remorse that Hindu nation/state under them would be ruled by a dehumanized text known as Manusmriti.

For Savarkar and RSS this Code of Manu is the most worship able scripture after four Veds. This text, the Manusmriti decrees a sub-human status to Hindu women and Sudras. While India’s Dalits are not Muslim, they still face the brunt of Hindutva aggression for riding a horse, motor-bike or a bridegroom riding a buggy, for passing through a high caste locality with chappal on, for listening a song praising Baba Saheb Ambedkar, for falling in love with a high Caste girl and for skinning a dead cow with valid licence.

Renowned social activists and intellectuals like Narender Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh were not Muslims but assassinated as they were challenging the Brahmanical, in fact, Peshwa rulers' vision of India. Broadcaster, Udayan Mukherjee recently made a significant point when he said that ‘the Muslim as enemy’ rhetoric will be more stridently in vogue today with the mounting pauperization of Indian masses who constitute 80% of the population.

Under Modi rule today, India has 101 billionaires, and the wealth of the richest 1 per cent of Indians grew by Rs 21 lakh crore in 2017 only, which amount roughly amounts to the size of India's annual budget. Simultaneously, India has emerged as the world capital of unemployed youth, hungry masses devoid of healthcare, TB patients, maternity deaths, human trafficking and under-nourished children. Indian farmers are facing a crisis where suicides are not exceptions but rule.

According to Udayan, "Our farmers, small businessmen, wage labourers, the jobless? For them, there is the opium of the masses—religion. After four years of falling short, the BJP knows that it cannot go back to the larger, non-urban electorate with economic delivery as its election plank. For this section, achhe din still remains a mirage and any mention of it may actually rile sentiments". Since

Hindutva rulers have forsaken farmers and latter should not expect any great turnaround in their fortunes, should Modi win India again, in 2019. The Hindutva patent medicine seems to be to instigate against Muslims and motivate them "to emerge more patriotic and more Hindu, and cement their 'rightful' domination of this great nation. What is money, after all, compared to these far loftier ideals?... Our prime minister has cracked the winning formula. Horses for courses: More wealth for the rich, Hindutva for the poor".

In fact, even if there existed no Muslims and Christians in India, Hindutva rulers would have invented them. The million dollar question today is whether, a sectarian and fascist worldview will be able to overthrow a polity which took birth after a very long, committed and collective struggle of  people of all religions. The Indian Freedom Struggle that gave ourselves our Constitution.
 

Disclaimer: 
The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sabrangindia.