Playing with Fire: Govt & Sangh fanning Rajput Flames

The scene of thugs on the street, throwing stones at innocent school children, sends out a chilling message. That Hindutva groups are deliberately using the entire Padmavat controversy to mobilise disgruntled caste groups. In a democratic state, we have to abide by the institutions and their authority. If the Supreme Court has cleared the film Padmavat, we should not rake up a controversy around it. Let us make it very clear that none of our children are going to learn history from Padmavat. Those who want to learn history from fiction and mythology ‘feel offended.’ Films, particularly from Bombay cinema have nothing to offer us, historically.

Padmavat protest
Image: Javed Raja / Indian Express

My reaction is not really about the story of the film in question but the way the government and politicians are responding to it. This reflects in which direction the Indian polity is going. I wrote long back that our democracy is nothing but the chess games of dominant communities: hence the Rajputs, Reddy’s, Gujjars, Jats, Marathas, Patels, will do the things they like. The fact is that you never knew about these ‘Senas’ in earlier times but now, with a hegemonic, majoritarian Hindutva ideology in place, prominence face-offs by such groups furthers their agenda. I am sure that if Sanjay Leela Bhansali were not involved, the media would have not taken note of it and even, possibly, justified the violence.
Rajputs are enjoying their ‘precious’ political revival at the moment. A minuscule minority is now trying to assert itself through violent means. Democratically, Rajputs cannot get anything on their ‘not so golden’ past as they remain a mere puppet of their brahmanical masters. The fact is that the stooge of the brahmanical masters who used Manu’s rigid and much-rubbished laws to push for their ‘divinely sanctified’ supremacy are placed as heroes and those who revolted against them have been portrayed as villains.
I can bet, also, that this whole drama of Karni Sena is nothing but a political game to raise the public temperature and to communalise the atmosphere. Today, it is the Sanghis who are riding this tiger. But, if allowed unchecked, this Sanghi game plan will boomerang on them. The brazen plan is to reduce these entire narratives into a Hindu-Muslim binary and try and rally all castes and communities within this logic. Whatever the urban elite may say, the Sangh and the Rajputs in particularly have benefited from these stunts, politically. But it is not that Rajput politicians have been like that. Prior to this infiltration by the Sangh within the Rajputs, most of them were politically inclined towards the Janata family and actually were people wedded to notions of social justice. The Sangh’s Hindutva agenda has countered the progressive Rajputs, today. This is why V P Singh, Arjun Singh and Digvijay Singh are so hated, because of their open stand against communalism and for support to a social justice agenda. This apart, even a person like Chandrashekhar was far superior to the street leaders today cry for heads of humans and provoke violence. To understand how the ‘young’ rabble rousers have been created through foul-mouthed utterances against Muslims, it is worth tracking the career graphs of Yogi Aditynath, Sangeet Som, V K Singh, and Daya Shankar Singh (who abused BSP leader Ms Mayawati) The BJP has made his wife a minister now. Even the whole conflict at Sahranpur reveals this fault-line, Rather than taking action against the goons who burnt the houses of the Dalits, the Adityanath government continues to take action against Chandra Shekhar Azad and others of the Bheem Army. In the 1980s, Rajput leaders in Rajasthan had supported the Sati of Roop Kanwar at Deorala. Their leader Kalyan Singh Kalwi was a supporter of the practice but this support did not influence politics elsewhere and it remained confined to Rajasthan. Today, an event from the ‘Padmaavat’ film has been used to ‘organise’ the ‘community’ all over the country. There are likely  attempts to bring under the umbrella ‘those’ who till date were never ‘Rajputs’ but always ‘aspired’ to be like them. This is the new ‘show’ of ‘strength’. Though low on numerical strength, their muscle power is visible everywhere. This is an attraction for political parties of all hues who wish to use this clout for political gain.
The irony is that even the Dalit OBC political parties did not stand with Chandrashekhar Azad and the Bheem Army. There is no condemnation by political parties against the Rajput rampage. The same thing is happening now. The Rajput organisations have completely gone berserk because of the political patronage from the Sangh, brazenly trying to convert the entire Padmavat debate into a Hindu Muslim conflict. That is the agenda and even Bhansali could be a part of it. I do not think the film can hurt the sentiments of Rajputs. In fact, those who have seen it suggests that it glorify the feudal values and false valour.
Now both V K Singh as well as Digvijay Singh are saying that we should not ‘hurt’ the feelings of the community and have no right to ‘distort’ history. How can those who are converting mythology into history ever complain that someone is distorting history? Bhansali is not Salman Rushdie who can take on the religious gangs. His film would be just glorification of the Rajput pride and nothing beyond. It is not surprising, therefore, that most of political parties have kept quiet on the issue. As the rogues enter into newsrooms and bring Muslims into the central point of every debate and question, the not so hidden agenda needs to be understood. It is not merely a Rajput issue. The Sangh is not keen to make the ‘media’, art or creativity look a bit ‘different’. You have to surrender fully and Muslims and Dalits, Adivasis will always shown as villains of the piece. This further strengthens a stereotype among the people who were not ‘Hindus’. So, all the sins of the Rajput Rajas and their chelas are washed away in this overt falsification of history. No community can really gain anything with such street lumpen-ism. Worse, no state or government will get any legitimacy this way.
It is time we deal this issue as a law and order issue and that alone. Arrest those loudmouths openly abusing and threatening people and provoking violence. But this government will not do so. These are people who use ‘sentiments’ to increase their vote bank. They know well that elections loom large and rather than debate unemployment,  demonetisation, law and order, the impending banking crisis, violence on Dalits and other marginalised, issues of women, law and order in BJP ruled states, a public debate is being generated on a film that the courts have cleared.
V K Singh says that people’s opinion must be respected and I ask him whether his government will respect the Muslim community’s opinion on triple Talaq ? You want to ‘sudharo’ (improve) everyone else except the communities that have gone beserk who are today playing havoc with our country and also justifying the Varna (caste) system. Brahmanism is dying but such ignorant communities will attempt its revival without gaining any benefit from it. While Parshuram threatened the Rajputs with seven generations of annihilation, it is tragic that Rajputs are today dedicating their lives for brahmanical values. The government must assert rule of law and bring the situation to normalcy. It can’t push India to anarchy and chaos. Don’t use this unrest for your political gains as you may win the elections but India will ultimately be the loser.



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