India under Hindutva: there is light at the end of the tunnel

Signs of the times

Even as we sit dissecting the actual losers or winners in the Gujarat elections, few aspects hit. For one, the 2002 pogrom stood so very dimmed as though in these fifteen years we seem to have forgotten those killings and rapes and hounding of large sections of the Gujarati Muslims…as though the havoc unleashed by the Right Wing brigades in Gujarat was of little consequence; as though it’s okay even if those murderers ruined the lives of an entire generation, forcing them to move towards graveyards or ghettos or outside the state.

No, this time around there were none of the fiery speeches by any of the activists of the country. As though the vetoing voices have been silenced or throttled. As an Ahmedabad-based author told me last week, “There is scare …you cannot speak out or even write too openly about Modi. Here the ground situation is scary… danger of serious complications. I’m not a Muslim and nor a Gujarati but have to think twice about writing against the State which is completely controlled by the RSS.” Probably this rationale carried the expected offshoots – even the aggrieved Gujarati Muslims did not want to talk of the brutal killings of 2002. None of the rebellious cries could be heard out there in the open. Also, none of the expected reactions when BJP’s candidates openly abused the Muslim community in several of the election rallies; more than signalling that Muslims no longer matter, elections or no elections. They have been side-lined if not dumped by the ruthlessness of the rulers!

Instead of letting the electorate talk of the ground realities, BJP’s strategists thrust in those varying distractions along a certain set strain - of Pakistan supposedly meddling in the Gujarat elections, the twisted versions of the utterances of Mani Shankar Aiyar, Rahul Gandhi’s temple visits…Rounds and rounds of television discussions only and only on the frivolous, as though every possible attempt was being made to keep the public engrossed in silly non-issues, so that the dark realities never ever surface.

Why didn’t the BJP talk of the agrarian distress in Gujarat? Why didn’t they focus on the deteriorating living conditions with joblessness and absolutely dismal outputs in the business and educations spheres? In fact, even today, after winning in the elections, the BJP’s top brass refuse to talk of the fact that they won but just about. After all, they cannot overlook the narrow margins involved in several seats and also the large number of the NOTA votes and also the rather diminishing hold of Modi and his men on the electorate.

And though Congress did give them a tough fight and lost, but not really! Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a leader. He does hold out hope for those who sit disillusioned with the maar-kaat politics, for those who do not want to be taken for a ride on the RSS bogey, for those who realize that Hindutva cries are nothing but to divide and ruin, for those who want a young politician to change the very course of politics in this country.

In fact, what the Congress lacks is an ideology to carry forth its fight. The Left has a certain ideology. The Right-Wing also has an ideology. Its about time that the Congress came up with a concrete thrust which can make sense amongst the masses who are waiting for years for some miraculous change in their living where they can actually survive.

Instead of mixing religion with politics, Congress ought to try a fresh strategy. It ought to broaden the very definition and reach of religion. It ought to insist that all religious practices and beliefs carry the message of welfare of the masses and till that’s not happening there is no good governance. Somehow, the Congress has to build its cadres and that can happen if and when there is an emotive message to carry forth… In those decades gone by, it was ‘swaraj’ that had brought us all together. Today, let variations of ‘swaraj’ once again hold sway. Yes, independence from the corrupt and communal and cheats! Freedom from political pollutants of all possible hues and forms! Azaadi from the mess around ,where there is little to eat or digest or survive on!

The Congress is beginning to emerge as a formidable force, which could retrieve and with that revive some semblance of hope. But only and only if its cadres are strengthened at the basic levels…and these cadres can reach out through various strategies -- right from street plays to protests to meets to reaching out to those killed by State terrorism or by those private brigades that the political mafia is unleashing on the masses. Not to be overlooked is the fact that today, besides the roti-kapda-makaan wants, the masses are crying for justice and equal rights. The tragedy is that today’s victims know the exact details of their killers or tormentors, yet cannot move against them for fear of getting lynched by the men manning the very system - today’s rulers!

We are passing through crisis times. An un-declared emergency, where people are desperate for a change. Rahul Gandhi should leave no stone unturned in trying to connect with masses. In fact, his speeches carry that connecting strain and this has to be kept intact and ongoing.

And we, as a people, can no longer sit mute but try and speak out at our haal …our haalaats …what we have been reduced to.

LEAVING YOU WITH …these lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz:
“We People - Carrying in the hallways of our hearts / Rows of extinguished lamps/ Bored and fearful of sunlight / Like the mercurial image of the beloved’s beauty ,/ Hugging our darkness, wrapped up in it ./ Our concern – loss and gain / Beginning and end - / The same futile curiosity, the same pointless quest / Fatigued by the greyness of the daily scene/ Grieving over the remembrance of things past / Enervated by the dread of the future./ Unquenched thoughts, never satiated;/ Burnt-out tears that never well up in the eyes -/ A harsh pain that never melts into a song,/ Never oozes from the heart’s dark crevices / And a quest, confused, ethereal, for some panacea / A craving for the wilderness and the prison / A quest for the ripped collar.”