There is no doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are now at the peak of their popularity. As a wag put it, the BJP can win 500-plus Lok Sabha seats if elections are held summarily. What catapulted them to their seemingly unassailable position is what they did in the case of Jammu and Kashmir. An overwhelming majority of the people have welcomed their move, however divisive and dangerous it may be.
What’s worse, even many who are traditionally opposed to the Hindutva ideology like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have supported them. And they include some top leaders of the Congress Party which has fence-sitters like AK Antony and KC Venugopal, who have been marking their time.
However, this is because of many factors, including lack of knowledge of the signal role played by Sheikh Abdullah, father of Farooq Abdullah and grandfather of Omar Abdullah when the Pakistani tribes attacked the country and virtually reached Srinagar, the history of Article 370, and the importance of unity in diversity. It is this lack of knowledge which is the real strength of the Sangh Parivar. And it has been using it with telling effect.
It may be pertinent to recall an incident that helped the Indian Army to occupy Srinagar. The Pakistani tribes were on their way to Srinagar from Muzaffarabad, now the capital of what we call the “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” and what the Pakistanis call the “Azad Kashmir”. Maharaja Hari Singh’s puny police were unable to do anything to halt them. It was under such circumstances that he agreed to sign the Instrument of Accession. The looters from Pakistan found the St. Joseph’s Hospital at Baramulla, a nice place to take a day of rest.
They also wanted to have fun with some nursing staff. One of them, a foreigner and nun, was “raped”. In the raid on the hospital, four persons, including the nun and a Hindu lady, were killed. They looted whatever was there in the hospital. They spent a whole day looting, eating and drinking at the hospital. Otherwise, they would have reached Srinagar and occupied the airport much before the Indian Army could reach there.
The “rape” and murder of the nun helped India to mount a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan. Nehru visited the hospital to take full political and diplomatic advantage out of the incident. The international media focused their attention on the “rape” and loot. In their perception, the tribes were not freedom-fighters but rapists. Pakistan could not convincingly resist India’s diplomatic offensive.
All the same, the situation would have been different if the local people had supported the invading tribes. The people were led by Sheikh Abdullah who did not want Kashmir to become a part of Pakistan. It is their descendants who feel cheated by what India did early this week.
Who in the world would believe us that it was in the interest of the people of Kashmir that one fine morning tourists were asked to leave the state, all the Internet and telecommunication networks were disconnected, political leaders were put under house arrest and curfew was imposed on the whole Valley?
Even at the time of writing, I have no idea what the ground situation is at Lal Chowk at Srinagar. That the government was forced to publicise a picture of the national security advisor Ajit Doval eating vegetarian biriyani at a wayside eating joint in the Valley tells a different story altogether.
Amit Shah had no hesitation in asking even the Hindu pilgrims to go back to their homes. So much for the sanctity he attaches to religious rituals. Fools are fools, for they do not see through such clever manipulations. I was in Delhi when the Emergency was imposed. The people behaved in the same way as when Shah used the knife to cut Jammu and Kashmir, as some say, and to butcher the state, as some others say.
The government has bifurcated J&K into two Union Territories, one with an Assembly, as in Delhi, and another without an Assembly as in Chandigarh, on the specious plea that it was necessary to uphold the principle of One Country, One Constitution. Why should there be two laws in one country? This may appear a valid question. What is dangerous is that, tomorrow, it can use the same logic to do away with the special laws applicable to Nagaland and other states in the Northeast.
Nothing prevents Shah from getting a notification signed by the President to declare West Bengal or Kerala or any other state as a Union Territory. People in Chandigarh often take pride in the advantages they have because it is a Union Territory. The taxes there are low, for instance. There would be people to support Shah if he declares Punjab as a Union Territory. So, the so-called public support is not a measure of justification for any action, particularly in a country which claims to uphold the rule of law at all times.
Those who know the Sangh Parivar ideology know very well that it never accepted the reservation policy. Under One Country, One Law, why should there be reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes? Again, a valid question. They can very well quote Jawaharlal Nehru to say that reservation was introduced for a limited period as they quoted the first Prime Minister while arguing that Article 370 was not a permanent feature of the Constitution. It was introduced, originally, for 10 years.
I am certain that whatever little representation the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have in Parliament, Assemblies and the bureaucracy is because of reservation. If it is withdrawn, they will be left to fend for themselves and do menial jobs. In fact, there is a strong case to give the benefit of reservation to the Dalits among the Christians and the Muslims. I know that this government will never agree to it.
The Sangh Parivar had always seen the special rights for the minorities as an appeasement policy. They can say that there is no logic whatsoever for such rights in One Country, One System. After all, the BJP’s policy has been to pursue “development of all, not development of one section”. It can very well end all the rights the minorities, both linguistic and religious, enjoy in the country in the running of their educational institutions. It is also true that the government has found ways to scuttle the special minority rights.
There is a minority education commission. When a vacancy arose for the post of member, the Narendra Modi government-I preferred to appoint one more Sikh, instead of a Christian. This is despite the fact that among the minorities, Christians have more schools and colleges.
Adivasis enjoy some special rights under the Constitution. This is to protect their culture and prevent alienation of their land. Of course, this did not prevent the Gujarat government from forcibly occupying their land, whether to build the Narmada dam or to build the tallest statue in the world. Tomorrow, they can issue a Presidential order ending such rights in the name of One Country, One People.
In fact, the Sangh Parivar does not even consider the tribals as aborigines. It calls them vanvasis, i.e., those who live in the jungles. They want to disprove the historical evidence that the “Hindus”, like the Mughals, were also migrants who settled down on the banks of the Sindhu.
Nowadays, Air India does not serve non-vegetarian food (chicken and eggs) on board. Of course, there was no need for a Constitutional amendment to implement this executive decision. In government parties, non-vegetarian dishes are no longer served. Modi and Shah follow a very simple rule: the country should eat what they eat.
In Kurukshetra in Haryana, chicken and mutton are not sold. No restaurant there serves meat and fish. There is no law that sanctions such a restriction but nobody dares to defy the unwritten rule. Those who want to eat non-vegetarian food have to go to Saharanpur in UP. The government can make the whole of India a Kurukshetra by arguing that One Country should have One Diet.
The new draft education policy has elements that promote the principle of One Country, One Language. If Sanskrit is declared as the pre-eminent language of the nation, as it is supposedly the repository of all wisdom, and all other Indian languages as its tributaries, it will be to uphold this language principle.
No language can survive without state patronage. Look at the condition of Urdu. The fate of many tribal languages will be similar to the fate of Aramaic spoken by Jesus and spoken now by almost none in the world.
The slogan Jai Shri Ram was coined by the RSS during its Ayodhya movement that culminated in the destruction of Babri Masjid. The popular Hindu greeting in the North was “Ram, Ram”. If an elderly Hindu wished me in this manner, I had no difficulty in responding to him in like manner. “Jai Shri Ram” is a different kettle of fish. Similarly, I was used to seeing Ram as a benign God, always in the company of Sita, but in the Sangh Parivar’s portrayal, he is a fearsome God, like Modi when he talks about Mian Musharraf.
Many have been lynched because they refused to shout this slogan. In the name of One Country, One Greeting, this can be forced upon the country. The government can also make it mandatory for everyone to shout Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Like everyone has to stand up in a cinema theatre, thanks to the obduracy of a Supreme Court judge with which everyone concurred because nobody would like to be portrayed as anti-national. It is a different matter that the real anti-nationals are the ones who seek and give bribe to get their work done in an illegal manner and who encourage killing of human beings to garner votes.
Let there be no mistaking, India is Hindustan. That is how even Pakistan calls this nation. In his post-Article 370 speech in the Pakistan Parliament, Prime Minister Imran Khan consistently mentioned Hindustan, not “India, that is Bharat”. If that is the case, why should other religions exist? Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Jainism can all be brought under the umbrella of Hinduism.
Under the slogan, One Country, One religion, there can be Hindu-Christians and Hindu-Muslims with their religious places accessible to the Hindutvavadis for their worship. In other words, a different kind of “unity in diversity”.
Already, the BJP has coined the slogan, One Election, One Country. There will be no separate elections to the State Assemblies and Parliament. From there, it will be one more step to have One President, One Country. There will, of course, be a House of Elders to advise the President, who will rule the country.
In fact, there is a perfect model to follow. The RSS operates all over the country. It has only One Opinion and One Leader, who is advised by a group of elderly people. They do not hold any elections to any posts. Yet, the RSS successfully runs the Central government and several state governments.
The whole system of governance will be modelled after the RSS. One Country, One Law can be achieved easily by finishing all personal laws. The BJP is never tired of saying that the Constitution, piloted by Dr BR Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly, was amended more than 100 times. The IPC and the CrPC were the creations of the British, especially Thomas B. Macaulay. Over the centuries, the laws have been found wanting.
However, there is one law that never underwent any change. It is contained in Manusmriti. It can replace the Constitution, for it is totally Indian, with no trace of Moghul or European jurisprudence in it. The slogan would be One Country, One Law. This is not a far-fetched theory. This is, alas, what the RSS has been striving for ever since it was founded in 1925 by some Brahmins in Nagpur.
Those who support every action of the government without knowing its implications will be behaving like the ordinary Germans who realised their folly only when the whole country was destroyed. A similar fate awaits India if those who have a duty to challenge the government succumb to its pressure and sing paeans for the likes of Modi and Shah.
(Published on 12th August 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 33)