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Fishing for votes in the rivers of blood

Ram Puniyani hopes the election Commission will wake up and see the dangers of holding elections in a state, which has suffered such an intense trauma, a state where the whole minority community today is petrified and a state where lakhs are staying in refugee camps.

In the wake of Gujarat genocide many a masks are falling one after the other. We are witnessing the 'naked glory' of those claiming to be secular, as it is ingrained in their 'glorious tradition'; new meanings are also being added to this word. The litmus test of this in a way was the response of BJP, Vajapyee and company, to the most elementary demand of dismissal of the architect-in-chief of Gujarat carnage, Mr. Modi. While defending his fellow swayamsewak our 'poet-prime minister', who is generally well covered by his mask, dropped not only his mask but all the guards to show his khakhi-knickers and the trishul well placed in the pockets of his knickers. Thundered the swayamsevak, wherever there are Muslims in the world there is strife, Islam has come to mean forcing their opinion through terror and fear, putting the blame of Gujarat genocide on the victims of genocide themselves, he went on to assert, Muslims provoke and then Hindus..."

He peaked his role as the RSS warrior by saying that what happened in Gujarat was deplorable BUT who started the fire? In nutshell, the venom, which the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal spreads in the society, was neatly capsulated and delivered by Mr. Vajpayee in a 'masterly' fashion. While protecting the butcher of Gujarat, BJP also called for elections in Gujarat, a move, which Mr. Shanta Kumar dubbed as doing politics on the corpse of the riot victims, a few days ago! Surely Mr. Shanta Kumar will have to pay in due course for not being able to keep some of his left over humanism, despite being a swayamsevak, under wraps.

With this, the path is open for the BJP to chart the course for electoral success by encashing the polarization brought in by the ghastly events of a bleeding state. How come every time a riot occurs, the communal forces become strong? Why BJP was showing electoral decline during last many elections it faced? The survey sponsored by Mr. Modi did show the chances of BJP winning the elections in the wake of the violence. While many of us may simplistically believe that after getting its hands bloodied in the violence most of the people should shun this party like plague and how come the survey shows its confidence of winning? Surely its leadership is going by its time proven formula, riot- polarization and thereby electoral success for communal forces!

Analysis of different riots during last 50 years has shown that while riots may invite disgust and repulsion amongst some people, a large section easily buys the story that it is the communal forces, which have protected them from the aggression of the enemy. During Mumbai riots we had witnessed the police-Shiv Sena complicity ravaging the streets and unleashing the violence while sections of community gripped by common sense in the spell of 'Manufactured Hatred' gleefully approving and following the saffron bandwagon and further than this many an elements taking advantage of the situation to fill their coffers or to control a piece of real estate. Many an immigrants wrote back to their families in the villages applauding the mercies of Lord Ram in providing Shiv Sena, thanks to whose efforts we are alive today from the organized conspiracy of the Islamic Fundamentalists. Many an indiscriminating amongst us might have been swayed by this but for the Srikrishna Commission's brilliant work, which confirmed the findings of the public tribunal headed by Justice Daud and Justice Suresh who within few months of the riots came to conclusion that it was Shiv Sena organized anti Muslim pogrom. The 'brilliance' of communal outfits lies precisely here. They did successfully propagate that the murder of mathadi workers or burning of the Bane family by some miscreants was in fact a handiwork of the aggressive Muslims. It is worth recalling that Hindu Hriday Samrat (King of Hindu Hearts) Balasaheb Thackeray gave a call for the violence after these two acts by writing in his mouth piece Saamna, Hindunni Ata Akramak Vhayal have (Hindus should become aggressive now). Rest of the story is too well known to be recounted.

Similar pattern seems to be under play in the wake of Godhra tragedy. The coach was torched on 27th Feb., by the same evening the word is spread that ISI along with local complying Muslims have attacked the Hindus. The secularists as usual are not condemning the act so the Hindu souls are deeply pained. The next day the organized carnage stalks the streets of Gujarat and the warriors of Sangh Parivar well equipped with swords, maps of Muslim house holds, business houses and holy places, draws the rivers of blood on the streets of Gujarat and the survivors pitying their existence are forced into the camps, unattended by state and humiliated by their plight of living in the Hindu Rajya, the state of Chote Sardar, Mr. Modi. One knows that the aggressive communal forces need a pretext for their survival. The eclipsing electoral fortunes were too obvious to the wily strategists of Sangh Parivar, who were 'needing' a Godhra to happen for their own very existence. Bereft of such situations they see their own decline too visible. 

What in fact was needed was proper investigation of the tragedy, as to who provoked, why it happened, and its logical next step to punish the guilty. Surely state is well equipped to do this elementary business. But if that is done, the whole 'benefits' of Godhra are lost! So within a single day even when all those who matter amongst Muslim community, secularists and the Human rights activists are protesting their heart's anguish out in the streets, or condemning this barbaric Godhra, The lathis (the origional RSS weapon, now being a bit extinct to keep pace with times), the Trishuls (the symbol of most aggressive RSS wing VHP and Bajarang Dal, currently in use) and more innovative gas cylinders (any semblance with Hitlers gas chambers is purely incidental) come in to action. The hurt of Hindus is coordinated through mobiles and the foot soldiers brave it out while the foot soldiers and the mobile wielders share the loot of business establishments owned by the 'enemies' of Hindu Rashtra, the Muslims. 

Many an inquiry commission reports have shown that it is generally some outfit of Hindu communal organization, which threw the first stone or started the fire (Who Castes the first stone, Teesta Setalvad, Communalism Combat March 1998). These inquiry commission (Jagmohan; Ahmadabad 1969, Madan; Bhiwandi 1970, Vithayathil;Tellicherry 1971, Venugopal; Kanyakumari 1982), the reports of Bhagalpur, Jamshedpur riots and lastly Mumbai riots have demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt that the truth is fairly shrouded in mystery and the propaganda that Muslims have started the riot is the triggering point for unleashing the 'much needed' riots to strengthen the base for communal politics. Mostly some pretext is generally made available or situation is such created that minorities are either cornered or threatened in such a way that they are forced to throw the first stone. 

When Mr. Vajpayee says that Muslims started the fire, he is following the mould and mindset, which has built the BJP. Be it the ghastly riots or the Ram Temple movement, the role of Majoritarain communal force is absolutely clear, and made more clear after the cool headed study of the riot reports. But by the time reports are cited, dug up from the archives the 'job' is already done, and the foundation for the new electoral success already laid down.

Now, one hopes the election Commission will wake up and see the dangers of holding elections in a state, which has suffered such an intense trauma, a state where the whole minority community today is petrified and a state where lakhs are staying in the refugee camps. What one wonders is about the many faces of a man called Atal Bihari Vajpayee. At one time he wrote somewhere,(Frontline August,1997) we donít fish for votes in the rivers of blood. This was probably before his masks were ripped off by his politics for Hindu Rashtra. Now while eagerly preparing his boats and nets to catch the electoral fish in Gujarat, he must be formulating another poem and another suitable formulation to which can act as a brand new mask for the new occasion.

Prof. Puniyani works with EKTA, 
Committee for Communal Amity, Mumbai

 
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