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India that is Bharat?

Ram Puniyani Ram Puniyani
31 Jul 2023
The worldview of Hemant Sarma and company is fixated on the glorious past where the Brahmanical values ruled.

BJP has been in power for the last nine years. The opposition parties have gradually realized that it is not ruling on the lines of the Constitution and neither for inclusive India which should be based on Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice. BJP has been using the agencies like ED and CBI as a major tool to weaken the opposition parties. Its policies on the one hand have given boost to crony capitalists, and also have been undermining democratic freedom. 

Its politics is centered on the issues related to identity, Ram Temple, Love Jihad and many other jihads, cow-beef and hyper nationalistic postures against one neighbour. Its policies have increased the sufferings of the average and poor sections of society, be it the demonetization, Covid 19 lockdown at short notice or be it the rising unemployment, problems of farmers, increasing atrocities against Dalits, Adivasis, women and religious minorities. One can go on and on.

The selective use of Central agencies is one of the major concerns apart from realization that BJP is the richest national party, enhancing its riches through electoral bonds. PM Care Fund is another of the mechanisms which is disturbing the apple-cart of our system. To cap it all, BJP has vast support of manpower from the various affiliates of RSS, which without fail, work for the party during elections. All this has made the non-BJP parties to come together and form an alliance, INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance). This got formulated in their second conclave in Bangalore where 26 opposition parties met to save democracy and Constitution and to take on the might of BJP, whose organization goes from booth level to national level and works as a well oiled machinery.

As the opposition parties’ coming together became a reality, BJP woke up to their combined march. The first thing they did was to bring the NDA out of the freezer and try to put together some 38 parties, few known and most unknown rag-tags. Most of the party leaders were bowing to the supreme leader whose photo was the only one on the banner. They were deeply stung by the brilliant acronym INDIA. Apart from denigrating these opposition parties, some of their leaders said it was improper to use this acronym. As per them, use of the name of INDIA will have undue influence and will be a personation at elections," news agency ANI reported. They also filed a police complaint at Barakhamba police station in Delhi.  

Assam Chief Minister Hemant Biswa Sarma has tried to make comment at different levels. As per him, our civilizational conflict is pivoted around India and Bharat. The British named our country ‘India’ and we must try to free ourselves from colonial legacies. Our forefathers fought for Bharat and we will continue to work for Bharat.”

Responding to him, Jairam Ramesh of the Congress tweeted, “His (Sarma’s) new mentor, Mr. Modi, gave us Skill India, Start-up India and Digital India — all new names for ongoing programmes. He has asked CMs of different states to work together as ‘Team India’. He even made an appeal to Vote India! But when 26 political parties call their formation INDIA, he throws a fit and says use of India reflects ‘colonial mentality’ ...”

Stung by this, he changed ‘BJP for India’ to ‘BJP for Bharat’ on his twitter handle. As such civilizational conflict and values, which he is mentioning, are being articulated by many pro-Hindutva writers. JNU Vice-Chancellor Shantishri Dhulipudi Pandit pointed out, “Reducing India to a civic nation bound by a Constitution disregards its history, ancient heritage, culture and civilization.” Many other writers from this stable are saying that civilizational values should be given preference over values of Indian Constitution.  

The BJP’s interpretation of Indian civilization is narrow; it harps on mainly Brahmanical traditions of Hinduism. The interaction with Greeks and Huns is ignored and the coming of Islam and Christianity is looked down upon as being a ‘foreign’ invasion on our civilization. This narrative is in contrast to the understanding of Indian civilization aptly put by Jawaharlal Nehru, “She was like some ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously…” 

The worldview of Hemant Sarma and company is fixated on the glorious past where the Brahmanical values ruled. In their view, even the great Indian traditions contributed by Charvak, Buddha, Mahavir, Emperor Ashok, and Bhakti-Sufi have no place. Their immense hatred for ‘left’ historians like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Ramsharan Sharma, Harbans Mukhia and the like is rooted in their view of the civilization revolving around birth-based caste and gender hierarchy. These professional historians brilliantly brought out the deeper dynamics of society; they were concerned not just about the ‘religion of the ruler’ but deeply outlined the lives of Dalits, women, Adivasis among others -- the real diversity of Indian civilization.

As such the colonial legacy is carried on today by the likes of rightwing stream which looks at history through the constructs of colonial masters. Their goal was to divide the society along religious lines so they introduced ‘communal historiography’ (looking at history through religion of the king). This is the premise of the likes of Hemant Sarma. Capping the communal historiography they have added the upper caste-patriarchal notions in their narrative and have made this the basis of their exclusive politics.

Their main obstacle is the Indian Constitution. As Indian nationalism started growing they began glorifying Manusmriti and its laws and labeled ‘Muslims, Christians and Communists’ as the internal threat to their nationalism. The opposition to the Indian Constitution has been openly articulated by this politics, most clearly by K.Sudarshan, previous RSS Sarsanghchalak, who said the Constitution was of no use for the people of the country”.

Undoubtedly the opposition to INDIA of the opposition parties is a major step to oppose the inclusive values of our civilization. As such, the Constitution itself is an outcome of evolving Indian civilization. The opposition to the INDIA alliance is also rooted in the thesis which sees ‘civilizations in clash’ (Samuel Huntington), in contrast to what UN report which emphasizes on Alliance of Civilizations, well articulated in Nehru’s above quote. Hope INDIA prevails over the divisive politics of the likes of Hemant Sarma. 

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