|The anti-Christian campaign of RSS in Manipur uses the language it employs for Muslims in rest of India
On April 18, KS Sudarshan, the chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( RSS), made a fiery speech at Imphal against Christians and Christian missionaries in the North-East. Toeing the known RSS line of equating Hindus with the country, and branding any protest against any injustice as anti-national, he lambasted the church for "instigating" Christians to "identify more closely with England and America than with India", thus sowing the seeds of secession.
Interestingly, it was a paraphrase of the RSS anti-Muslim rant: "Muslims of India support ISI and look to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia."
He said, "crores have been spent for converting Hindus to Christianity in Nagaland and Tripura." He charged that in Tripura Hindu religious festivals were not allowed to be celebrated by Christians. Needless to say, this observation was sweeping and reductionist.
A huge Bengali-Hindu influx in Tripura threatens the indigenous tribal people of the state, who have revolted against the Bengali-dominated administration, seeking more fair treatment of tribals/Christians.
Hindutva enthusiasts like raising the bogey of foreigners’ issue in Assam since the supposed entrants are Muslims. But never would they talk about Bengali-Hindu influx in Tripura, to the extent that the state wears Hindu-Bengali character.
Sudarshan was received by a huge crowd, and when RSS volunteers marched down the streets of Imphal, Meitei/Hindu women showered flowers on them, welcoming the upholders of obscurantism to a land so far unsullied by their presence.
At the same time, an eerie cloud hung over the minds of minorities(Christians, Muslims and others). All of them ask in unison: "Are we heading towards being yet another Hindutva laboratory?" Gujarat seems not far away.
Sudarshan’s yatra to Manipur is significant because in the election held in February the BJP campaign threw up only four MLAs, thwarting their desire to form government. Last year BJP got a jolt when the Vajpayee government agreed to extend (which was opposed by Meiteis) the ceasefire agreement with NSCN(I-M) "without territorial limit".
That decision (later revoked following a massive agitation against it ) of the Vajpayee government alienated the Meiteis, which explains the poor performance of BJP in the election. Now RSS wants to heal the wound by pampering Meiteis/Hindus, trying to create a strong Meitei/Hindu political base in the Imphal valley at the cost of minorities.
Leader of the state BJP, RK Dorendro Singh, whose reign in 1993 saw the first ever pogrom against Muslims, is known for his anti-Muslim bias. The fear among Muslims is that with the majority Meitei/Hindus faced with political challenge from tribals /Christians, to the radical Hindu organisations, the state may be sharply divided on ethno-religious lines. This trend is all ready discernible.
And that’s where the RSS gameplan perfectly fits in. By blaming non-Hindus, RSS is calculating to polarise the state on communal lines and reap political benefit. That Sudarshan was working on this line was evident when he made a provocative statement that "whoever lives in this country, whether he speaks Manipuri, Assamese, Nagamis or Bengali, is a Hindu". Provocation and backlash are two essential instruments for building a Hindu Rashtra.
¯ Shakil Ahmad in Imphal