In the upcoming presidential election, the BJP candidate Ramnath Kovind’s election to the post of the President of India is fait accompli. The debate around the presidential election is restricted to BJP playing the caste-card. The Congress fielding Meira Kumar against BJP’s caste-card, merely changes the discourse as to whose candidate is the better or more authentic ‘Dalit’. One point raised is that Ramnath Kovind is a dedicated swayamsevak of the RSS. This opposition is moot. Which BJP leader is, or can possibly be, not a dedicated swayamsevak?
The real reason behind BJP/RSS fielding Ramnath Kovind is often lost in the debates on the issue. In this write-up, it is our intention to throw some light on that real reason.
RSS has decided to appropriate Ambedkar as part of a well thought out strategy. It may be remembered that till the time of ‘liberal’ Atal Behari Vajpayee, not just ‘palli’ topis, but formal green ‘safas’ were worn by BJP leaders to appease Muslim voters. Even though they were later threatened and told that BJP could get the numbers irrespective of their votes. Hardliner Advani too thought this was the right way, and placed flowers on Jinnah’s grave when he visited Pakistan. RSS showed him the door as soon as he got back home. He’s still living the exile, as it were.
Thereafter the RSS resumed its work under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi accomplished in the Gujrat laboratory what Vajpayee had feared he would, when the BJP decided to make him Chief Minister. The fertile land on which first Godhra, and then the entire Gujarat program was played out, had already been prepared by the decade-long neoliberal policies. Narendra Modi, based on the state power, was successful in eliminating all evidences against him and his government, and whoever were declared guilty and punished by the court, are now being released.
If the BJP of Bhagwat-Modi-Shah does not want the Muslim vote to win elections, it is clear that it needs to make up the deficit by ensuring the support of another big community. This can only be the Dalit community. In the short tenure of the Bhagwat-Modi-Shah, the RSS/BJP have had remarkable success in this direction; it does not matter that intra-community caste-divisions and rivalries for power exist within the Dalit community too. Rather it has captured the sentiments of other backward castes, as well as the tribals. With time it will achieve greater success. With this, there will be a permanent solution for winning elections, and also, it will facilitate manipulation and distortion of the Constitution.
After the victory of 2019, when the existing concept of secularism in the Constitution is replaced by the RSS’s concept of the ‘Hindu Rashtra’, a Dalit President will be waiting in Rashtrapati Bhavan to sign it. Advani, perhaps, couldn’t have done this. The Modi-Shah duo refrained from brazenly installing Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, to carry this out right away, due to some apprehensions. This task has been postponed for now.
If a Dalit does this, it can be said that a Dalit from Modi’s ‘New India’ is carrying forward Baba Saheb’s work, which the Congress had delayed or stalled for the past 70 years! This is how RSS-BJP will rectify Baba Saheb’s ‘wrong’ decision of abandoning Hinduism. Along with this, those speaking against Hinduism in their assertion of Dalit identity, will also be taught a lesson. As it is, RSS-BJP is not going to find it tough to deal with Dalit and Other Backward Castes ‘intellectuals’, because just as Hindu nationalism thrives in the womb of neo-liberalism, most Dalit and OBC intellectuals too try to establish their power/space within the neo-liberal framework.
As this scheme gains momentum, the RSS will gun for its long-awaited agenda of dispossessing the Muslims, already dispossessed of democracy, of the country itself. A rehearsal of this may be seen in the events in Muzaffar Nagar four years back.
The governor of Tripura recently tweeted that Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of Jan Sangh, had suggested that Hindu-Muslim strife could only be resolved through civil war. A civil war for a Muslim-free India may seem far-fetched right now; but within Asia, there’s one happening in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and Syria for many years now. Lakhs of people are being killed. From drones to the mother bomb attacks, lakhs of children’s lives are completely destroyed. A generation fed on the footage of the worst civil wars in human history is coming into its own.
The way educated, well off/cultured Hindus are falling easy victims to Islamophobia, it doesn’t seem like they have learnt any lessons from the tragedy of Partition. Emotional claims about family and children will not hold against civil war. Hasn’t Modi left his family, and even his wife, for the ‘Hindu Rashtra’? As the noose of neo-imperialism tightens, the hate-mongering against Muslims and Christians will also rise. Other minority religious communities will also get caught in this hate mania. The failure to become either modern or world citizens, will be compensated by BJP-RSS by installing ‘Hindu president’, ‘Hindu prime minister’, ‘Hindu government’, ‘Hindu development’, ‘Hindu technology’, ‘Hindu knowledge’ and so on, in the ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
In this moment of grave crisis, the decision of the likes of Nitish Kumar to support BJP’s presidential candidate doesn’t mean much. Nitish Kumar has been a parasitical and opportunistic leader from the very beginning. His ideal prime minister has always been Mr. Vajpayee. He is blaming the Congress, because he wanted to be declared the PM candidate for 2019 before extending his support. He wishes to quit the chief minister-ship of Bihar, only when the opposition makes him the prime minster of the country, or he will continue to maintain a relationship with the BJP, so that in the event of Lalu Prasad Yadav withdrawing his support, he can remain chief minister in his state or a minister at the centre with the help of the BJP. The brazen display of his will in the garb of secularism has been going on for the past two decades.
Nitish Kumar’s opponents however, are in no better position right now. For example, if the Congress does not succeed in making Rahul Gandhi the prime minister, then the ideal prime minister of governmental communists is Kejriwal. This is the black collage of the secularist and progressive politics in our times. In these circumstances, the young generation has a tremendous responsibility of pulling the Indian society out of this collage.
Reacting in fear to the present situation and over-emphasizing religious identity will not yield positive results for either Muslims or any other minorities. It is more important to strengthen the notion and awareness of modern citizenship.
Prem Singh teachesHindi at Delhi University, Former Fellow, IIAS, Shimla, President, Socialist Party (India)