In the perilous game of dividing people to manage votes, India is passing through dangerous times. In democracy these politicians are only concerned about managing votes or creating vote banks. For that, our present leaders are ready to take any risk, even risking the unity and integrity of the country. Such divisions help in ignoring misuse of authority and corruption as well as highly risky economic policies to get the support of multinational corporations and World Bank-IMF combine, ignoring Indian realities.
In the last decade and a half, undoubtedly there is a deliberate attempt to win over the votes of the majority community. To achieve the consolidation of the Hindu votes, no stone is left unturned including hate trade. To win votes, issues like ban on cow slaughter, attack on people carrying meat and killing some of them on mere suspicion of them carrying beef, regulating musical evenings and books for sale, censorship of films to make it within the ambit of Hindutva ideology and controlling genuine student movements to protect the rights of Dalits in universities, to name a few. Above all, by keeping the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhumi issue alive, BJP manages to keep the majority community happy. The objective of all these moves was only to create divisions in society and achieve consolidation of the votes of the majority community.
The deliberate moves to win over the votes of the majority community through hate campaigns, pro-Hindu policies and communal appeals in campaigns by the BJP leaders is now having an impact on the policies and programmes of other political parties to retain their Hindu votes So much so, in the Gujarat election campaign one saw Rahul Gandhi visiting 27 temples. He was seen sporting a prominent tilak during campaigns. All to prevent migration of Hindu votes from Congress to the BJP camp. Soft Hindutva appears to be the official policy of the Indian National Congress these days. Let us not forget that in early eighties Indira Gandhi too was seen hopping from one temple to the other and following a soft Hindutva approach.
One can see such a distinct change in the Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) by putting up blown pictures of leaders like Vivekananda in party congresses and a subtle Hindu tilt in policies and programmes while balancing it with pro minority rhetoric. Keeping the minorities happy through slight shift in policies and keeping the Hindus happy through gestures like regular temple visits, even regional parties are now playing soft Hindutva politics.
The original propounder and practitioner of the policy was K.Karunakaran who visited Guruvayur temple every first day of the Malayalam month and openly took part in rituals, some of which were promoting superstitions. Karunakaran knew the political advantages of such a policy pretty early and kept out the BJP far away from state legislature and local bodies. Remember a BJP leader entered the Kerala assembly only years after Karunakaran fell from the High Command’s favour and was sidelined.
But what our leaders forgot was that if communalism is propped up unduly, casteism is sure to raise its head. After all, communal seeds started sprouting in India only after Muslim rulers got well settled in the country. Caste has been a reality in the country for thousands of years. For the same number of years ruthless suppression of lower castes by the upper castes is an Indian reality. Dalits and OBCs have been asserting their rights in the last few days. V.P. Singh as prime minister gave a boost to such sentiments when he decided to give job reservation to OBCs. Though Vishwanath Pratap Singh lost his job in the process, he firmly sowed the seed of caste policies by agreeing for job reservation in government offices for OBCs accepting the Mandal Commission recommendations. One saw the emergence of leaders of the backward classes and dalits in the Hindi belt then on. A backward class leader like Narendra Modi could for a few years manage unity within Hinduism but the continued economic and social backwardness of these communities made them come together and fight for their rights and identity. They made their presence felt in Gujarat elections, when the erstwhile rulers assured fairplay and justice. After all, those out of power and side lined do vibe well.
But the point is that if tactics like divisions and hate are employed in a democracy, the consequences are dangerous. Seeds of divisions and hate will beget more divisions and hate which spread like wildfire among youth without much to lose. After all within, Hinduism the caste conflicts are thousands of years old, older than communal conflicts. Instead of approaching the electorate with policies and programmes, rooted in Indian realities, if strident communalism is made the campaign focus successfully, caste elements would attempt the same route to power. Some leaders had used this to achieve power in the Hindi belt. Now the caste groupings are coming together almost on an all India basis. Undoubtedly, it is not a healthy sign, rather a development of concern. If not controlled it can spread like cancer in our polity.
Political parties should realise that if Hindus have suffered under Muslim rulers for hundreds of years the Dalits and OBCs have suffered under upper caste dominance for thousands of years. Historical faults should not be sharpened and create divisions and hate for short term electoral gains.
At least national level political parties need to realise the emerging danger. Short term gains should not make our leaders close their eyes to long term dangers. Dalits and OBCs do have a problem: Both economic and social. This should be addressed with solid and convincing measures. If not attended to immediately, a repeat of what happened in Maharashtra recently could happen in other states too as the feelings are wounded everywhere. Sowing divisions and hate can beget a major harvest of divisions and hate only. In a highly diverse Indian society distancing from secular values can be only at our peril.
Remember, If Babri Masjid comes can Bhima Koregaon be far behind?