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BJPs defeat: The Hindu perspective

By: Bandyopadhyay Arindam
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The BJP has lost in the recently concluded Lok Shabha 2009 elections. The political party, conceived as the face of Hindu interest has lost to the dynastic Congress Party. The people of India, the land of ancient Hindu civilization, with over 700 million electorate, arguably 80% of whom are Hindus, participated and chose not to elect the party that is accused of being communal and non-secular for promoting Hindu agendas and looking after Hindu concerns. Logically then one has to raise the following questions: Are there really any Hindu specific agendas? Are the majority Hindus disinterested in Hindu agendas and concerns? Or are the Hindus disenchanted with the BJP and believe that they do not represent Hindu interest in the way they should?

It appears that the Muslim community who dumped the Communists and the Laloos, Mulayams, Paswans and Mayabatis this time, have returned to the fold of the Congress with renewed hope that the Congress lead government will finally address their problems and concerns , rather than continuing with their appeasements policies for vote banks. The small Christian community, empowered by the support of the ruling caucus of India as well as the international solidarity with the global Christian world and emboldened by their success in Orissa and Karnataka in recent times, had openly called for en bloc vote against the BJP. Post poll they are optimistic that it will "definitely benefit the growth of Christianity in the next five years". Such calls for mass voting on religious lines are not perceived as communal in case of the minorities; it is defended as their religious freedom.

But despite the swings of minority votes, it is conceivable that, barring a few pockets in the country, most Indian who voted would still be from the majority population, the Hindu community. So are there any Hindu specific issues and if so why does it fail to be important to the Hindus? Religion to most Hindus is a private affair. Perhaps resulting from centuries of oppression, Hindus generally do not openly claim their religiosity. Even in socio-political issues related to Hindu interest, they hardly ever want to take any collective stand as a religious body but prefer to appear neutral and secular. Neither do they take interest in the consequences of religiously divisive politics.

India is a secular nation because Indian Hindus want it to be secular. Religious plurality is integral to the Hindu Dharma which is way beyond one scripture and one prophet and preaches "truth is one; sages call it by various names." Hindu India had given shelter and coexisted harmoniously with the early Syrian Christians, Jews, the Parsees and more recently the Dalai Lama and had seen the birth of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism in its land. And this continued until the advent of the proselytizing Abrahmanic religions. Post-independence while Pakistan chose to be Islamic, India opted to be religiously secular and barring stray communal tension, in a land of one billions, have had a peaceful path of development. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world and the Indian Muslims are the only Muslims in the world to enjoy sustained democracy. But India must also be the only country in the current world and even perhaps in history where the majority population, sacrifices their own interests and failing to take a united stand, allows the minorities to dictate terms. Hindus, largely socio-politically dispassionate, fail to realize implications of such blatant communal calls like" "Muslims must have first claim on national resources" or the significance of the fact that their temple donations, instead of being used for uplift of the temples, its priests and its facilities are funneled to fund madrassas and Haj pilgrimage. Hindu parents are media managed to harm and hurt educational, employment, economic and business opportunities of their own children and grandchildren by giving their notes and votes to such political parties which shout from their political rooftops that they will give special preferences to Muslims and Christians over Hindu youth in matters of education, training facilities, government jobs, jobs under police and paramilitary forces, employment in banks and other public sector undertakings and bank loans, educational loans etc.

The unconstitutional, undemocratic and divisive politics of minority appeasements is not only depriving the Hindus of their rightful claims but is also fragmenting the country.

On the other hand, if and when Hindus raise any issue it is throttled as communal? Secularism has a different meaning in Congress ruled India. When the Morarji Desai government moved the 45th Constitutional Amendment Bill in 1978 which, among other issues, defined secularism as equal respect to all religions, that bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, but turned down by the Congress majority in the Rajya Sabha. Is secularism a burden of Hindus alone? Do Hindus have to prove it at every step - in thoughts, words and deeds, casting their own religion, tradition and faith into oblivion? Is it communal to portray the glory of Pre-Islamic Hindu civilization or to demand an accurate Indian history to be taught to our children? Is it communal to call for a uniform civil code for all Indian citizens? Is it communal to challenge Bangladeshi infiltration or to integrate Kashmir to the rest of India? Is it communal to expect strong laws against terrorism and to see it implemented, irrespective of political affiliation, religion, caste or creed? If a Hindus laments for the Palestinians he is lauded as a liberal but if he demands rehabilitation of Hindu Kashmiri Pundits or protests Hindu decimation in Bangladesh or Pakistan, he becomes a religious narrow-minded hardliner. If the Muslims riot for a Muslim cause like Danish cartoon or Saddam Hussein, it is defended as their religious sentiment but if Taslima Nasreen happens to speak of Muslim atrocities on Hindus, she is driven out of the country.

The Hindu majority cannot be unaware of these Hindu issues but they do not seem to be concerned. Even if they are, their voice does not reach the required decibel to penetrate the ears of authorities or to influence the media. Or else they allow themselves to be cleverly manipulated to maintain religious amity. Hindus are required to self sacrifice for communal harmony for the sake of national interest and minority rights protection. The same is not required from the other religious denominations.

Each individual Hindu is been delicately trapped into this game of communalism and pseudo- secularism that the media and the politicos play with the mass, such that he or she is hesitant to fight for his or her own rights now, in fear of becoming branded as nonsecular.

The BJP or any so called "Hindu" party or organization had never been any favorite of the media, neither has any Hindu cause ever been given a decent hearing by the self proclaimed judges of secularism. A demolition of (Ram) Janmasthan Mosque (aka Babri Masjid) is a subject of eternal condemnation because it gives an perpetual opportunity for Hindu bashing. One hardly sees similar criticism verbalized in defense of the Hindu issues of Amarnath or Ram Sethu. Hindu agendas, like control of temple funds and educational institutions, are dealt only with conventional formality because defending Hindu cause in India is equated with being communal. Most political parties and leaders are careful to appear politically correct by dissociating themselves from Hindu issues. They pretend to be ignorant or noncommittal even if the issue is of such national interest as terrorism and defense of the country or accountability of NGO funding or retrieving illegal foreign bank funds, lest they appear as against minorities. On the other hand, the same so called "secular and liberal" politicians, leaders, media personnel"s, statesmen or activists are ever alert not to miss any opportunity to hog the limelight and get some brownie points by condemning Hindus on the slightest provocation.

On the one hand, by continuously harping on special status and minority victim hood for vote bank politics, the secular brigade of post independent India, like their English predecessors, have successfully mixed the poison of distrust against the majorities, thus alienating the minorities from the national main stream. On the other hand they continue to divide the plural Hindu society - each individual is either a dalit, an OBC or a brahmin, a Marathi, Gujrati or a Punjabi, a Jadav or a Thakur, never a Hindu, never an Indian.

A lot has been written about the state of BJP in the post election phase. From regional to national and international news media, blogs, news articles, letters and editorials have flooded with analyses and advices, both from supporters and adversaries. Understandably many are obviously relieved to see BJP"s defeat. In some cases, the mood of gleeful over joy at their dismal failure is hardly suppressible. It is a defeat of Hindus and of Hindutva, a decisive blow to majority communalism, the rejection of the Hindu hardliners, the end of Hindu nationalism - claims the pundits. It was a vote for Congress on the basis of development and stability, they analyze. They fail to explain why there are several states starting from Gujarat which are developing rapidly in the country but are not blessed by the Congress government. India, as they say, is developing despite the government and thankfully so.

As for stability, the statistics on terrorism speaks for itself. Even before the Mumbai carnage of 26/11/08 in which at least 172 people died, in 69 Islamic terrorist attacks since 2000, there were 1,120 deaths. In 2007, the United States" National Institute of Counter Terrorism calculated that between January 2004 and March 2007, the death toll in India from all terrorist attacks was 3,674, second only to Iraq during the same period. After each terrorist punch, India reels and falls, chants "zero tolerance to terror" and assures to "bring all culprits to justice", stands up wobbly, only to be knocked down again with the next punch. The farce after the Mumbai carnage was there for the world to see and is still continuing. Not a single terrorist has ever been punished in India. The whole world knows now that India is a soft state, unable to take care of herself, but the government remains paralyzed from fear of disturbing the minority votes. The same paralysis also prevails in dealing with Maoist terror. Is that the stability we are counting upon?

The well wishers of BJP themselves are divided whether BJP should embrace Hindu interest more vigorously or shun it to present an acceptable face to all religious factions. Those who want BJP to shed their Hindu character are forgetting that it is the Hindus who made BJP what they are now. Asking BJP to discard its Hindu interest would be endorsing the toxic propaganda of the pseudo-secular brigade that Hindu nationalists will ruin the country and retard its development. It would be naivety to think that the BJP, already branded as a Hindu nationalist party all over the world, can convince the minorities enough to get any significant share of their votes in future. The party has been trying to "reach out" to minorities, but that hardly made any impact to their conviction. BJP in the process forgot the basis of its birth and the reason for its existence. On top of the failure to connect to the millions of Hindus who are sitting on the fence, unsure of their rights and ignorant of their collective political power, the party risks losing the faith of the millions of its Hindu supporters who looked up to it with an expectation of being a party with a difference, that will not hesitate or provide lame excuses to address the problems of the country, including those of the Hindus. The BJP has been accused to imitate others and try to appear "secular" and shy away from their commitment to the Hindus and to the nation, which had brought them to power in the first place. They squandered their initial opportunity five years ago and then, without any media support of their own, failed to counter the relentless propaganda of the anti Hindu, pseudo secular media and politicians. They needed to convince the electorate that they wanted to build a strong nation with an essential Hindu character that had defined India civilization from ancient times and had identified it as separate from all other countries of the world. It would have been the proverbial Ram Rajya, based on Dharma, which included equal rights and benefits for all its proja or citizens, including the nationalistic minorities. They had to convince that they were capable of fighting all internal and external influences that would otherwise love to see India disintegrate. They had to provide the vision of putting the nation of India, ahead of all its fractions but they have been unable to do so. A lot of self analysis and introspection is required for the party to come back to their right path. The pseudo-secular intelligentsia and media which have tasted blood will try hard to ensure that there is no easy recovery and that is perhaps the first thing that the party has to counter.

But even if the BJP fail the Hindus and moves away from its ideology, should it be the end of the dream of the Hindus? BJP is merely a blip, tumbling in its infancy, in the eternal history of Sanatan Hindu Dharma. Not too long ago the Hindus of Hindustan, the home of over 80% of the world"s billion plus Hindu population, used to find solace in the fact that Nepal was the only Hindu country of the world. They cannot relish the idea anymore. India is not a declared Hindu country but still is the land of Hindu civilization. The sons of the soil are either Hindus or mostly of Hindu ancestry, with a culture and tradition that perhaps distinguishes even an Indian Muslim or Indian Christian from its co-religionist abroad. It is that Indian-ness of the country, which is essentially a Hindu identity and its continuity that is in danger. That is all the Hindus have and they have to fight to preserve it, with or without the BJP. India is at crossroad. The violent religious aggression of Islam and the more subtle cultural and religious invasion of Christianity to what is remaining of the once mighty Indian civilization are very real. The Naxal-Christian alliance is true no matter how much our media and politicians want to downplay it. India is the last bastion of ancient civilization that has resisted the aggression and maintained its continuity for millennia, because of the Hindus. Hindus have fought for centuries against foreign invaders, now it is time to clean their own house as well.

The political leaders and media should be careful not to play with Hindu sentiments with divisive politics. The people of India have successfully reduced the stature of the small players in this election. The big teams are thus warned to stay away from politics of minorityism. But to ensure that Hindus themselves need to be much more vigilant and socio-politically active. They need to verbalize their resentment and unite to fight together irrespective of their caste, creed and individual interest. Every swami or sadhu should encourage his followers, every temple should become grounds for sociopolitical awareness, and every Hindu gathering should be an opportunity of active discussion. Each and every person who cares for Hinduism and is proud to be a Hindu is to join hands. And above all, they need to be prepared for a long battle that can become ugly, for a noble cause.

Bandyopadhyay Arindam

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