HOW AYODHYA HAS IMPACTED SOCIAL AND POLITICAL DISCOURSE: TURNING POINTS (POST BABRI DEMOLITION)

AS WE SAW IN PREVIOUS PART, IMMENSE PRESSURE ON RAJIV GANDHI PUSHED HIM TO MISHANDLE THINGS. HE TRIED HIS HANDS WITH MAJORITY MAJORITY BUT THE ULTIMATE BENEFICIARY WAS THE BJP THAT, FROM TWO SEATS IN 1984 LOK SABHA POLLS, WENT ON TO WIN 85 SEATS IN 1989 AND 119 SEATS IN 1991.

FOR REASONS THAT LIE IN INDIA’S PLURALITY AND THUS IN SENSITIVITIES OF THE MAJORITY AS WELL AS THE MINORITY COMMUNITIES, THE APEX COURT DIDN’T TAKE NOTICE OF THE CONTEMPT PETITIONS FILED AFTER THE BABRI DEMOLITION EVEN IF THE THEN CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA, JUSTICE M N VENKATACHALIAH, HAD SAID THAT THE DEMOLITION WAS THE MOST BLATANT CONTEMPT EVER COMMITTED. KALYAN SINGH AND VIJAYARAJE SCINDIA HAD GIVEN WRITTEN UNDERTAKING IN THE SUPREME COURT THAT KAR SEVAKS WOULD NOT TOUCH THE BABRI MASJID.

LEGAL JURISPRUDENCE IS TECHNICAL AS WELL AS INTERPRETATIONAL. THAT’S WHY WE HEAR THE PHRASE, ‘ON YOUR FINE SENSE OF JUDGMENT’ BY THE LAWYERS WHEN THEY SUM THEIR ARGUMENT IN ANY CASE. THE INTERPRETATIONAL NATURE OF OUR CONSTITUTION AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM DOES GIVE THE JUDGES THE DISCRETION TO INTERPRET LAWS WITHIN THE CONSTITUTIONAL NORMS. AND THEY HAVE DONE WELL. THE COURT’S HESITATION IN AYODHYA CASE CAN BE GAUGED FROM THE FACT IT IS PART OF THE LEGAL JURISPRUDENCE TO SEE WHAT EFFECT A PARTICULAR JUDGMENT CAN HAVE ON THE SOCIETY AS A WHOLE AND THEY TRY TO KEEP AS MUCH RESTRAINT AS POSSIBLE.

TO CONTINUE..

©SantoshChaubey

HOW AYODHYA HAS IMPACTED SOCIAL AND POLITICAL DISCOURSE: TURNING POINTS (PRE BABRI DEMOLITION)

Ayodhya has changed the political discourse of the country with events unfolding since 1949, after India started its journey as an independent sovereign nation on August 15, 1947. India began as a democratic country with socialist ethos at its core and the word ‘secular’ was rightly added to further the spirit.

But our lawmakers have failed us, right from 1947. Socialist and secular are all encompassing words that signify and qualify every other word that has become essential to our political discourse today, i.e., nationalism and even Hindutva. Nationalism had to be an extension of our socialist and secular ethos. Hindutva had to be nothing more than a way of life practiced by the majority in the country which gave equal respect to all other ‘ways of life’.

But we have messed it all up and as a results, the words that should define the spirit of our diverse society, have become mere tools to maintain political goalposts. Socialism, secularism, nationalism, Hindutva, all have come to define different goalposts in a society that is still trying to make sense that where it intended to go when it began its journey 70 years ago.

And Ayodhya has played a central role in this narrative. And the events that shaped this narrative are:

DECEMBER 22, 1949 – RAMLALLA IDOL PLACED: Ending over 400 years of status-quo. The history says, though then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was furious at placing of the idol in the disputed structure, he was never alert enough to visit Ayodhya even once.

19 FEBRUARY 1981, MEENAKSHIPURAM CONVERSIONS: A Tamil Nadu village, Meenakshipuram, saw a mass conversion, and was renamed as Rahmat Nagar. It was the beginning of the ascendance of majority appeasement politics in the country as opposed to minority appeasement that dominated the politics of the country till then. Talks of Ayodhya and Ram Janmabhoomi to be taken in a mission mode began here.

1984 – THE SHAH BANO CASE: The way Rajiv Gandhi surrendered before the compulsions of minority appeasement and overturned a Supreme Court ruling on a social malaise that was affecting millions of Muslim women, it further sent out a message that government was ready to go to any extent to save its votebanks. It also sent a powerful message that the government that was so appeasement centric that it could overturn a historic decision of the top court of the land, could never be friendly to the interests of the majority. And there were many takers of it.

FEBRUARY 1, 1986, ORDER TO UNLOCK THE GATES: Though a local court ordered it, the governments, at centre and in Uttar Pradesh, were so complicit that they never thought to challenge it in a higher court. Instead, the padlock was immediately opened after the judge’s order who quoted his religious experiences while delivering the judgement. It was in stark comparison to Rajiv Gandhi’s stand on the Shah Bano case. That was pure minority appeasement. But the stand taken here tells us that Rajiv had started feeling the pressure of a parallel political movement taking shape that was adopting majority appeasement and had chosen the most direct tool to reach out to the masses – religion. Rajiv’s stand also tells us he might have seen that it was going to be the future’s political currency and therefore, let’s try hands there.

1989 – UNRAVELLING OF THE BOFORS SCAM: A pure political development that added to various sorts of pressures increasing day by day on Rajiv Gandhi and his government.

1989 ELECTIONS – PRESSURE OF MISHANDLING SRILANKA: A foreign policy fiasco that further dented the credibility of Rajiv Gandhi.

1989 SHILANYAS OF TEMPLE BY VHP: It is said that, both the Congress government in Uttar Pradesh and at centre, could have stopped it. But when see that Rajiv Gandhi began his poll campaign for the 1989 Lok Sabha polls from Faizabad, we can easily find why they didn’t take proper legal interest to stall the VHP’s plans.

1989-91 – VP SINGH’S JAN MORCHA AND MANDAL POLITICS: VP Singh had left Congress on the issue of the Bofors scam but the pressure on him to save his coalition government pushed him to latch on to something that would again derail the Indian ship. He chose to branch out his majority appeasement politics by trying to divide the majority society into different higher and lower castes, through the Mandal proposals, that we now know as India’s caste based reservation system. Though VP Singh could not reap its benefits, we, as a society, are still cursed to weather its bad effects when we find that caste-equations and not development define the core agenda of the parties.

ANTI-MANDAL VIOLENCE AND PRESSURE ON VP SINGH: Implementation of the Mandal proposals led to widespread demonstrations and violence. It increased pressure on the VP Singh government to the extent that he had to go soft on Ayodhya, another important element of the majority appeasement politics.

SEPTEMBER 25, 1990: ADVANI KICKS OFF HIS RATHYATRA – THE MANDAL SPIN: The BJP cleverly used the deepening Ayodhya sentiments and the anti-Mandal protests to its advantage. It could make voters believe that it was their right representative in these circumstances. The electoral gains made by the BJP supported it. The party that could win just two seats in the previous Lok Sabha polls in 1984, won 85 seats in 1989.

OCTOBER 30, 1990: Police firing on kar sevaks in Ayodhya led to five deaths. Mulayam Singh Yadav was Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister. Another 15 kar sevaks were killed in police firing on November 2. Mulayam’s acts sent out a message that he was all about minority appeasement or as his political opponents could make people believe, at least those who did not vote for Mulayam and the 2017 UP assembly polls tell us that the sentiment has got stronger.

1991: The BJP’s first big political foray in the mainstream. It came to power in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. It was the beginning of the emergence of a political alternative in India that would make Congress like a regional party in 25 years, as the Congress’ situation is now. And this emergence was built on majority politics, opposed to Congress’ minority politics.

DEC 6, 1992: Babri demolition and the aftermath – the riots of December 1992 that engulfed the country. The Bombay riots of December 1992 and January 1993 and subsequent serial blasts in India’s financial capital that killed scores. The majority Vs minority started becoming central to the political discourse in the country.

©SantoshChaubey

MAJORITY APPEASEMENT POLITICS AND NARENDRA MODI

What Narendra Modi is doing is akin to tapping the neglected votebank of the majority Hindus.

Indian politics has had absolute shades of minority appeasement. The politicians enjoying the riches of a fractured majority votebank have crossed limits many a times in appeasing the minorities, clearly at the cost of promoting communal divide in the country.

It is foolhardy to ignore this fact. I am confident that I am free from religion and caste biases and I am not writing this because I am a Hindu. I am writing this because I am an Indian first. Hindus, Muslims or people of any other religion or faith are equal citizens of India and there must not be preferential treatments based on religious lines, as the politicians have been doing, to a particular religion.

In a democracy with staggering number of poor people, that India is, the only criteria for preferential treatment can the social and economic conditions.

If the BJP has to come to power and if Narendra Modi has to become the next prime minister of the country, they need something to mobilize the votes that can match the huge (but not enough, as it may depose the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government but may not guarantee the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) the 7 RCR) anti-incumbency against the Manmohan Singh led UPA government.

And for an alienated votebank, largely unaware of its rights and the power of its vote, that can be achieved through polarisation of votes on communal lines.

Polarisation of votes on the communal lines is the only factor in the prevailing sociopolitical circumstances in the country that can unite the majority Hindu votes divided along the different caste and regional lines.

It is not that only Narendra Modi is realizing it. Others, too, realize it but they would never be sure of getting returns as they, till now, have played the communal card of the minority appeasement politics and have no experience on dancing to the tunes of majority appeasement.

While Narendra Modi of the day is creation of the communal card of the majority appeasement politics! An intensifying ‘communal Vs secular’ debate benefits his style of politics.

It is true, the BJP did reap the benefits of the religious politics by exploiting the majority sentiments on Ram Temple issue to become one of the major political forces in the country but it doesn’t hold that ground anymore. On the other hand, Modi, though trying to reach out to the Muslims or other votebanks in recent times, has carefully continued with his Hindu hardliner image.

But, in the prevailing circumstances, the BJP is not going to play the religious card openly in the elections, and even Narendra Modi is not going to be verbose about exploiting the religious sentiments.

But, mere presence of Narendra Modi is enough to polarise the Hindu votes.

And the rest of the job of carrying out acts, the ‘push’, like ‘84 Kosi Yatra’ or ‘rallies and protests for the Ram Temple’ or ‘Kashi’ or ‘Mathura’ or ‘anti-Hindu violence in J&K’, can be done by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) or Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or some other Hindu outfits.

Modi has proved his identity as an efficient election manager in uniting the fractured Hindu votebank in Gujarat. He has, for the first time in the Indian political history, successfully sustained the majority appeasement politics by combining it with a pro-development agenda and its efficient execution.

It is true what he has been able to achieve politically in Gujarat cannot be applied for the rest of India. But the alternative premise is also equally possible that it can be applied to the rest of India.

What happens will only decide the next course of drama in the political arena of India and that leaves the doors open for extensive and wild experiments, at least, till the outcome of the next parliamentary polls.

In other words, ‘what is going to be and what is going not to be’ can only be tested on the timescale and the immediate point of reference for this on the timescale is going to be the next parliamentary polls.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

COMMUNAL OR SECULAR: THEY ALL ARE SAME

They all are from the same lot, exploiting the religious sentiments of this or that population group to further their political agenda.

Their only goal now is to manage somehow their presence in the power corridors and they can go to any extent for it.

The common man, be it a Hindu or a Muslim or a Sikh or a Christian or a Dalit or a Forward Caste or a Backward Caste, has been reduced to nothing but a pawn in their hands to manipulate the System to make their sub-System dominating over the larger System versioned and put in place 63 years ago by the Indian Constitution.

The poor, the dependent and the weak, from every religious and caste group face similar problems of survival.

But fools they are!

They are so easily duped by the politicians, year after year, election after election, in the name of religion, in the name of caste, in the name of regionalism.

And every political group, be it the so-called seculars and the so-called communals, have equally contributed in propagating this treacherous machinery.

No political outfit in India is secular and the whole debate surrounding the ‘secular vs communal’ controversy is a big lie. The nation has seen religious riots during rules of almost every political outfit.

Communal or secular – it’s a game of political manipulation that is fought on perceptions. It’s like pizza – the base remains the same, only the toppings vary.

Creating perceptions – to manipulate us!

Manipulating perceptions – to rule over us!

Perceptions, to keep us occasionally hallucinating that the good days would come.

Perceptions, to shows us the bare minimum of what was required to be done asking us to base our aspirations on that bare minimum, that proves nothing more than a mirage in the end.

Perceptions, to tell us they are working for us.

Perceptions, to tell us what they say and make us see is right.

Perceptions, to tell us we do not have alternatives but to follow them.

Perceptions, to kill our genuine perceptions.

And they all, communals as well as seculars, are united in this.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

84 KOSI YATRA: WHAT LIES BENEATH?

Battle for perceptions dear! Perceptions!

It was naturally a political Yatra, no two opinions about that and the mileage that was sought is already in, even if it could not take off yesterday.

If Narendra Modi is the prime-ministerial face of the largest opposition party, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), one must be prepared to come across such developments.

Modi is the most skilled politician in India who can most efficiently exploit the elements of the communal politics for political gains.

And he is right on the job. This ‘84 Kosi Yatra’ that was to begin yesterday was just an element in the grand scheme of the things Modi would be working on.

The debate whether Narendra Modi or BJP are behind this Yatra that has religious and spiritual significance for Hindus or not is irrelevant. The promoters, the mobilizers, all come from an extended family and share same ideology.

Irrespective of the outcome yesterday, everyone is talking about it, from media to political pundits to politicians. And given the developments of the day, there are clear indications that efforts are afoot to deepen the row. Let’s see what happens today.

But one outcome is assued – expect more of the chatter. And a growing chatter midst a deepening religious row would naturally add the group, the majority Hindus, in the chain of communication, the ultimate aim of such Yatras and events and this Yatra may be just the beginning of many more such measures.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu outfit that is aligned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS), has announced this Yatra that, to begin from Ayodhya and to pass through six districts of Uttar Pradesh. VHP leaders, though detained yesterday, categorically said the outfit was going to go ahead with the Yatra.

Whatever be the developments ahead, a deepening row would certainly scale-up the stature of Narendra Modi and the BJP. Handling it is not going to be as simple as Akhilesh Yadav would be thinking.

In fact, his condition is more precarious. The best scenario for him would be to allow the Yatra to happen. In that case, nothing much on communal line would move. Raking up the RamTemple issue before every election doesn’t produce return anymore. But the blind rush to appease the minority Muslim votes blocked possibility of this option.

Now, if the row over the Yatra deepens and some untoward incidents happen today and in next few days, it may push the people to think again for the RamTemple and so, on the religious lines. And if that starts happening once in India’s most populous state, the work of Narendra Modi would become much easier.

And, even if anything like that doesn’t happen in this case, the state response already taken is enough to tell more such Yatras (or similar events) in future may produce the desired result because ‘when the situation flares up is impulsive’ that no one can predict.

Also, even if the chatter grows only, it will help strengthen the persona of Narendra Modi as the sole Hindu leader who cares for the majority sentiments. In India, perceptions still play a major role in deciding the electoral outcomes.

Communal politics of minority appeasement has been the dominant practice in Indian politics.

Narendra Modi is taking a different line by pushing for the communal politics of majority appeasement, something that he has successfully tried in Gujarat.

What is going to be and what is going not to be can only be tested on the timescale and the immediate point of reference for it on the timescale is going to be the next parliamentary elections.

For now and the time till the next parliamentary elections, it is going to be the time for the intensifying battles of perception!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/