Congress president Rahul Gandhi offering prayers at the Mahakal temple in Ujjain before the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. (Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)
Snapshot
  • The grand old party has been apathetic to the history and values of the dharmic civilisation.

As one of the most important elections in India’s history approaches its final phase, it is time to reflect on the broad platforms the two main political parties have campaigned on. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has offered the trinity of vikas, national security and clean governance.

While not so explicit, the party has also gone for an unabashed confluence of secularism and Hindutva in its campaign. Of course, the amalgamation of these two ideas seems contradictory to a colonised mind. For others, there is little contradiction in practising secularism through the ideas of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’.

This artificial dichotomy between the two has led to secularism itself being turned into a cuss word. Rather than staying true to secularism — treating all religions equally in matters of policy — it is alleged that the secularists have blatantly institutionalised anti-Hindu politics under the guile of secularism.

Those who disagree — and there are many — say that this is a typical Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) conspiracy theory. If this were the case, the Muslims would not be lagging behind in all social indicators, they argue. Moreover, they argue that it is impossible to be anti-Hindu and win so many elections in India. The latter is a disingenuous defence.

It is rather childish to think that Congress would declare in its manifesto that it is anti-Hindu. Of course, being aware of the political realities that demographics entail, should there be an anti-Hindu party in power, it must carry out its agenda subtly. Being overly aggressive can backfire. Therefore, to evaluate whether Congress is anti-Hindu or not, naturally forces us to scratch the surface and look beneath the obvious to assess their policies and objectives.

In this small piece, I draw upon a small sample amongst a plethora of incidents, where Congress could have practised secularism and remained neutral — without any political cost — but chose not to. Being most charitable to the grand old party, one can say that it is apathetic to the history and values of the dharmic civilisation.

A more honest assessment, however, only leaves one possibility — that of devious and sinister motives aimed at destroying the backbone of the Hindu civilisation through a multi-pronged strategy of indoctrination at young age, conversions facilitated through the financial might, and fabrications of charges denigrating the core values of the Hindu civilisation.

Right To Education

To the reader of Swarajya, no primer would be required about the perils of Right to Education (RTE) Act. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government introduced the act in 2009 stipulating that educational institutes will have to admit 25 per cent poor students for free. Outwardly, this may be a good initiative in the eyes of many. After all, who would oppose universal education? But, the supporters of such ideas would need to perform gymnastics to defend the following: schools run by ‘minorities’ are exempt from such requirements.

That is, if Amar, Akbar and Anthony, each start a school such that the schools are identical in every respect, then RTE will apply only to Amar. Akbar and Anthony are exempt from the provisions of the law. Discriminatory for being anti-Hindu as this is, the provisions themselves are not the easiest to meet. The result has been that a number of schools owned by the majority, especially those offering an affordable fee structure, closed down.

According to this report on RTE, the average number of minority status certificates (MSCs) that the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutes (NCMEI) issues has gone from 507 before 2010, one year after RTE was introduced, to 1,585 in 2016. Of course, ‘evidence-based policymakers’ can find several ‘explanations’ for this increase. So even accepting that the numbers may be overstating the impact of RTE, a blatantly discriminatory act will naturally give minorities, especially Christians in this context, an edge.

Whether this discrimination was a casual oversight or a deliberate ploy to create a monopoly of minority-owned schools around the country can never be established. So, let us imagine a situation where the British Empire is contemplating a policy that gives missionaries an edge in indoctrinating children at a young age so that they can be ‘harvested’ at a later date. Try thinking about the kind of a law such an empire would draft. Would it look vastly different? I leave you to judge.

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Communal Violence Bill

Empowered by the ‘success’ of the RTE, the UPA was emboldened to launch a frontal assault on the Hindu fabric. This time, through the Communal Violence Bill, giving the Centre the power to override states in matters of communal conflicts. One can still find semblance of principles in such an attempt. But, what went in the final proposal advocated by the infamous and extra-constitutional, National Advisory Council (NAC), an advisory body to former Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi that comprised of well-known bigots that have consistently targeted the followers of the Hindu civilisation through various platforms, would send chills down your spine.

Essentially, the bill gives the state the right to charge a person from ‘majority’ community — defined as upper caste and Other Backward Caste Hindu — for causing communal disharmony for not just an act of violence, but for even creating an ‘hostile environment’.

Activists and intellectuals like Ram Madhav and R Jagannathan have written extensively about some of the most draconian provisions of this bill. As Ram Madhav writes, “if a professor discusses 9/11 in class, a person from a minority group can claim that the professor was creating a hostile environment where the accuser was ‘hurt psychologically or emotionally’. Eventually, this would lead to the arrest of the professor as all offences under this bill were non-bailable.”

Interestingly, Leftist forces in India are not known for there love for freedom of speech. Yet, what stands out is the astonishing clarity of vision in targeting only one kind of speech here.

Targeting Hindus for a thought crime is perhaps the most benign provision under the law. For example, an altercation on the street between two men, one a Hindu and the other, secular, can land the Hindu in jail without evidence. Paradoxically, if a ‘samuday vishesh’ attacks a marriage procession of a Hindu group, as it happened in Gangapur, the attackers can then go and charge the Hindu group for creating a hostile environment.

I fail to draw any charitable interpretation on UPA’s part behind this. Audacious as it may sound, Sonia Gandhi is not the first one envisioning the possibility of ruling this country through colonising the Hindu mind and exploiting the undeniable divisions within the Hindu society.

State Control Of Hindu Temples Versus Other Places Of Worship

There is nothing new that I am bringing out here for the erudite readers of this magazine. Swarajya itself has done an article and a video. Moreover, noted lawyer and activist J Sai Deepak has talked about this issue at length.

The fundamental question is the following: what should the role of a secular state be in dealing with religious institutions? Should it regulate them to avoid misappropriation of funds and other malpractices?

The answer to this question can either be a “yes” or “no” depending on one’s own value system. But, unless one has a devious motive of attacking institutions of a particular religion, the answer to the above question cannot be religion-dependent. Yet, this is precisely what we have in India.

By law, Hindu temples come under state control, the state appoints the trustees, decides how to manage funds, and also taxes the income. Ridiculously enough, churches and mosques are exempted from such requirements. The state has no say in these matters. Below is a table from a Swarajya article I referenced above.

If this is not an explicitly anti-Hindu practice, I wonder what is. I would refer the interested reader to the other — more informed — sources I referenced above for details.

26/11, Malegaon And The RSS

Some events change the course of history. In India’s case, 26/11 was one such event. While the attack itself exposed Pakistan, thanks to Tukaram Omble, the police officer who was martyred catching Ajmal Kasab alive, the attack also derailed a much sinister plot by the UPA that was developing in the months leading up to 26/11. A few months before 26/11, there were bomb blasts in Malegaon for which Lt Col Prasad Purohit was arrested. Enough evidence is available in public domain suggesting that he was falsely implicated. One must add that the verdict is pending in the court.

However, what stands out is the alacrity with which the then essentially defunct Home Ministry acted in arresting Lt Col Purohit without evidence, and labelled it as Hindu terror. One must remember that in those days, India was witnessing literally a bomb blast every month. Facing the heat of rising Islamic terror and the looming election cycle, the prospects were looking ominous at one point. And so, out of thin air, Congress concocted the narrative of saffron terror about which a former bureaucrat R V S Mani has written in his book.

While this was before 26/11, Congress did not relent even in the face of such a gruesome terrorist attack. Just after 26/11 — despite Kasab’s arrest — Digvijay Singh released a book by one Aziz Burney titled 26/11 RSS ki Saazish, not once but twice.

Essentially, the Congress leadership was trying every trick under the sun — from falsely implicating Hindus in terror attacks to peddling conspiracy theories — to ensure that the charges of Hindu terror stuck. But truth has its way of revealing itself as the charges did not stick.

Congress supporters might say that many Muslims also, unfortunately, languish in jails for false terror charges. Therefore, they would argue, falsely implicating a person does not establish a larger conspiracy. There may be some merit in this defence, but not one incident comes to mind where a terrorist used Hinduism as a cause for carrying out a terror attack.

Therefore, it seems rather odd that the then ruling dispensation would explore a non-existent link as its first point of investigation in Malegaon, and eventually charge seemingly innocent Hindus to celebrate victory for unearthing ‘saffron terror’.

Due to space constraints, it is impossible to get into the details of several other incidents that merit some mention. For example, take the case of illegal Bangladeshi immigration in Assam. It is no secret that illegal Muslim immigration creates a permanent vote bank for the Congress. Pro-immigration parties worldwide endorse such policies for creating a support base.

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However, the plight of displaced Kashmiri Pandits should have warned any government sympathetic to the Hindus of the disastrous consequences of changing demographics in a particular direction. And yet, for decades, the Congress actively encouraged such illegal Bangladeshi immigration. Today, in 14 out of 20 districts in Assam, Muslims are a majority.

As Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the leader who signed the Assam Accord with the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi said, Congress had several chances to implement the accord but it chose not to. He goes on to say that fundamentalists from across the border intend to turn North East into an Islamic country and there are ISI reports to this effect. The risk, he says, is that Assam may turn into another Kashmir.

This may be terrible news for the native Assamese. But, going by the Congress leadership, one wonders if they too want the same.

Then there are incidents like the inauguration of the Somnath Temple. It is well-known that Jawaharlal Nehru disliked the idea of Rajendra Prasad, the president of India, attending the inauguration of the restored Somnath Temple. In Nehru’s worldview, the president of a secular country should not attend a religious event. One can see merit in this principle. But, here was a civilisation that withstood a series of assaults for several centuries. Somnath Temple was a mark of the resilience, grit and character of this civilisation. That the prime minister should be opposed to the celebration of restoration of merely one temple amongst thousands that were destroyed by invaders reeks of inherent biases.

However, Nehru was far more magnanimous in his opposition, or his biases, than his progeny. But, what one gathers from this incident is that right from independence, the Congress party was unsympathetic to the revival of a subjugated civilisation.

Another case in point going back to the Nehru era is that of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1948, after Gandhi’s murder, Vir Savarkar, a Hindutva icon, was arrested. To keep the story short, none other than Dr B R Ambedkar, law minister in Nehru’s cabinet, had a secret meeting with Nathuram Godse’s lawyer L B Bhopatkar to warn him that there was no evidence against Savarkar but that the cabinet was acting on the “whims of one man” to implicate him. That one man was none other than Nehru, according to Bhopatkar. (Ref: Manohar Malgonkar’s book The Men Who Killed Gandhi, Hindutva And Dr Ambedkar and Revealing Mahatma Gandhi's Murderer Nathuram Godse's Ties With RSS).

Of course, in some of the allegations above, sceptics would point to lack of ‘conclusive’ evidence. But, from state control of Hindu temples to RTE and Communal Violence Bill, from Kairana to Bodos, Congress’ sectarianism has systematically favoured minorities. Sonia Gandhi has wept when the terrorists were killed in the Batla House encounter but did not shed a tear for Lt Col Purohit. For every such charge, there is always some ‘explanation’.

One must remember, the art of winning civilisational battles lies in spotting early trends and acting on them. In a game of chess, the seeds of endgame are sown in the opening. But, once in the endgame, one cannot go back to the opening to reverse some blunders.

Unfortunately, time only runs in one direction — forward. Thankfully, there is every reason to be optimistic for we are course correcting.

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