Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
Whom would you prefer to be with, if given a chance: Sarpnath, or Nagnath? Will you prefer one over the other, or would you avoid their company in any case? After all, both are cobras, unfriendly creatures.
However, there are Muslims who think there is a choice between the two. In this case, they are called BJP and RSS. There are Muslims who think BJP stands for development, and RSS with its front organisations stands for Hindutva.
In this view, BJP is there to build railways, roads, airports, shipyards, office complexes, residential blocks and industrial cities, while RSS is there to build a Ram temple over Babri Masjid, start a violent campaign against a phantom called Love Jehad, ban meat eating and convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.
Naturally, everybody will prefer BJP. But the point is that there is no choice between developmentwallah BJP and Hindutvawallah RSS. Behind the victory of BJP in parliamentary polls there was the organisational might of the RSS.
The development champion Mr Modi was a Hindutva champion in Gujarat 2002 pogrom. In fact, he is still the old knicker-wearing RSS pracharak that he ever was. His stand that he is “not against ghar-wapsi” (conversion of Muslims and Christians) is probably ignored by such Muslims, even though it means “Mr Modi is for ghar-wapsi”.
If we don’t want to see something, we will not notice it even if we look at it for an hour. Or, we can straight away bury our heads in sand, beak and all, like the ostrich to avoid looking at the hunter aiming his gun at us. This reminds us of the farce of Advani-Vajpayee duo’s hard and soft politics of Ayodhya campaign days.
Many Muslims argued that Vajpayee was a liberal and Advani a hardliner. The fact was both were knicker-wearing RSS activists with the same training and the same political beliefs. Their supposed difference was well-considered tactics. When Advani was going to Ayodhya from Somnath, Vajpayee remarked that Advaniji should remember that Ayodhya was in India, not in Srilanka.
This came to some Muslims as a straw comes to a drowning man, who clutches the straw desperately to save himself from drowning. “See, I had told you so. Vajpayeeji is a liberal. He has told Advaniji clearly not to make India the battleground between Shri Ramji’s army and that of Ravana”. Well.
In 2002, after the historic massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, Vajpayee as the Prime Minister of India told chief minister Modi to observe “rajdharma”, which requires impartiality. This was good advice as the chief minister had been partial. But Vajpayee did not sack the Gujarat government, which was his “rajdharma”. Soon after that, Vajpayee took his familiar about turn and declared that Muslims did not want to live in peace anywhere.
He also said that had Muslim leaders condemned the Godhra train burning, the Gujarat pogrom would not have happened. This was a lie, as all known Muslim leaders had condemned it. Years before that, the Nellie massacre in Assam happened after Vajpayee’s visit there, during which he had provoked the Assamese chauvinists saying “if so many outsiders” had come into Punjab, the Punjabis would have cut them to pieces. So much for Mr Vajpayee’s liberalism.
I am reminded of all this after reading an editorial in an Urdu daily which celebrates Prime Minister Modi’s “victory” over RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The editorial says that RSS organisations were disturbing the Prime Minister’s development effort by distracting him with programmes like “ghar-wapsi”. The Prime Minister protested strongly and the RSS had to step back. Rabble rousers like Pravin Togadia have been cut to size and UP governer Ram Nayak’s “tetua daba diya gaya hai” (Ram Nayak’s mouth has been forced to shut). Nayak, who had been talking about Ayodhya temple, is now talking about development, the editorial says. Self-deception comes easy to our editors. They see difference in things where no real difference exists.
We would be better served by Russian leader Khrushchev’s stance on such distinctions. Khrushchev liked to talk with the help of his shoes. Once attending a UN meeting, he took out one of his shoes and banged the desk with it in order to make a point.
When Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy were running for the US presidency, a reporter asked Khrushchev as to whom he would prefer. Khrushchev, pointing towards his shoes, shot back a counter-question: “Which one do you prefer, the shoe on the left foot or that on the right?”
In today’s scenario, there is no choice, my friend. There is no choice, whatsoever.