A Secular Version of Hindutva by DR. MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM (DECEMBER 04, 2007)

GUJARAT POLLS-III


The Congress strategy of fighting Moditva with “secular Hindutva” has traditional secularists worried. However, says DR MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM, even this seemingly inconsistent strategy might work if the Congress-led secular front puts its heart into the fight.


On the face of it the Congress election strategy in Gujarat seems rather incongruous. After all how can you fight Sangh Hindutva with another version of Hindutva? This sounds (and looks) too suspiciously like homeopathic medicine, which is based on the principle that the chemicals that produce a disease are also the potential cure for the same disease, if we administer them in small quantities.

It is one of the little ironies that even homeopathic medicine works. Now, let us see how the good old Congress Party proposes to do the impossible. First, it is trying to ignore the murderous deeds of Modi and his party and concentrate on the merit (or lack of it) of his governance in general terms.

The Member of Parliament from Anand, Bharatsinh Solanki, is said to be a proponent of Congress version of Hindutva. Son of former chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, Bharatsinh professes a secular version of Hindutva, which the Congress Party is peddling in Gujarat. He says, “Hindutva has been distorted by Modi. Hindutva does not divide like Modi’s politics, Gujarat’s Hindus are not violent.”

In effect it means ignoring the 2002 pogrom victims’ intense desire for justice for a while. The Congress Party would not like even a mention of the 2002 killings, or even that of the 2007 Tehelka expose of the events. The party believes that if it brings the killings or the Tehelka expose into poll discourse it will immediately be cashed in on by BJP as hate and animosity suits it fine.

BJP knows that once the atmosphere is charged with hate and hysteria it is going to ultimately lead them to victory. Sangh thrives on communal division and Congress wants to deny it that advantage. That is why when Modi challenged them to raise the Tehelka expose issue the Congress Party refused to take the bait.

By denying BJP the communal turf the Congress Party wants to take away its most trusted weapon, that is, anti-Muslim hysteria. The Congress Party is focusing on the aam aadmi and how Modi’s shoddy administration has shortchanged him. Without a communal agenda BJP is extremely uncomfortable. In the absence of a truly hot-blooded communal platform BJP is left with an emotionally neutral “development” plank.

But the problem is that today even on the development turf BJP finds itself rather weak, because many of its development boasts have been found to be hollow, based on false claims. Congress (and other secular groups) have punctured many holes in the vaunted BJP development claims.

On the other hand, the BJP rebels and other assorted undesirables are no longer untouchable to the secular front, which is prepared to resort to any device as long as it ensures BJP’s defeat. That, again, looks rather intriguing. But, as we know, everything is fair in love and politics. Politics being what it is in Gujarat we cannot expect it to be too fair. Isn’t it?


(Watch this space)

 

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