The Shape of Things to Come by MOHAMMED ATAUR REHMAN (JANUARY 05, 2008)

As the reality of Mr Narendra Modi's win in Gujarat begins to sink into the country's political psyche the apprehensions about another bout of countrywide anti-minority hysteria are getting pronounced.

Recently a Muslim-run newspaper in the national capital observed (after a tour of Gujarat) that Mr Modi had staged a spectacular comeback not on the strength of development, but on hate. This bodes ill for rule of law and democracy.

It is quite obvious that either the Constitution or the rule of law will reign supreme or hate and hysteria will. You cannot have both. An increasing number of Indians is pointing to the fact that the attacks on Christians in Gujarat and Orissa began within hours of Mr Modi's win.

In none of the two states the government has tried to nip the mischief in the bud. Of course, we should not expect the Gujarat government to act against its own goons, but we have reason to expect from the Orissa government a more credible response. However, on ground level there is hardly any difference between the two.

The hate laboratory of Gujarat has produced remarkable success. Hate brings vote, more hate would bring more vote. That seems to be the thinking in the Sangh circles. Instead of regretting the spiral of violence (and doing something about checking it), the Sangh is gloating over it.

In what is reminiscent of communal posturing of 1992-93, BJP has started talking glibly in the language of those days. Now their focus is security, by which they mean exclusively "Muslim extremism". By doing so they are conveniently ignoring the far larger scale of violence inflicted by Naxals, north-east insurgents, Sangh cadres and plain, ordinary murderers and goondas. They are not counting even mass murders like Nithari, just because there is no Muslim angle to it. That is a terrible mistake.

Sangh ideologues are justifying attacks on Christians by referring to "demographic aggression". They are saying that Christians themselves are responsible for their troubles because they are trying to change the country's demography by "forced conversion". As usual, the new campaign against the minorities in based on such fiction.

The way the wind is blowing indicates difficult days ahead for India's secular democracy and rule of law. The UPA government is still to assert its authority on behalf of the Constitution, which has emboldened the law-breakers and hate-peddlers.


MOHAMMED ATAUR REHMAN

 

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