For BJP, business as usual by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (October 10, 2018)

Only last month RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat had, in a series of lectures, given a clear indication that the Sangh was moving away from its aggressive and highly divisive Hindutva stance. He said the Sangh did not want mukt, but yukt Bharat. The allusion was to its progeny BJP’s frequent calls for Congress-mukt Bharat (a Congress-free India). Bhagwat asserted that it would be an inclusive (yukt) India, thus refuting BJP’s unstated agenda of a Muslim-mukt India as well.

Needless to say, the Sangh chief’s assertions raised hope among the minorities, who welcomed the gesture. However, after just a few weeks of Bhagwat’s reassurance, the minorities have started having misgivings as the tenor of BJP discourse has not changed. There is the same aggression in BJP president Amit Shah’s tone as before the RSS chief’s declaration, the same contempt for the opposition in PM Modi’s speeches. Contempt, aggression, bullying are still the hallmark of BJP’s discourse.

Through name calling, symbolisms and slanted allusions BJP leaders have been giving out the subtle message that Congress is a Muslim party! Hence, Rahul Gandhi is a shahzada (a Muslim king’s son, not a rajkumar, a Hindu king’s son). Such mischievous subliminal messages have the power to quickly polarise society on communal lines and alienate Rahul Gandhi from Hindu masses. The mischief and misleading propaganda have not gone anywhere. It is as if Bhagwat had never given an assurance about inclusion.

The other day the Prime Minister said that Congress had been doing vote bank politics (read Muslim politics), which had hurt the country’s interests, while his party stood for sab ka saath, sab ka vikas (together with everybody, development for all). This sounds hollow when we see that in UP parliamentary elections BJP did not give a ticket to a single Muslim. In state assembly elections, too, there was barely any change. In the face of total exclusion of Muslims from legislative bodies (and, naturally, from government) this slogan stands repudiated.

As if that is not enough, parties giving tickets to Muslims are termed Muslim-appeasers, even though the tickets Muslims are given do not reflect their numbers in the population. Non-BJP parties are scared of being branded as Muslim-appeasers and caution their Muslim supporters to keep quiet and maintain a low profile.

This is what academics call invisiblisation of the marginalised and silencing of the weak. Sociologically, that is the most vulnerable situation as it means Muslims are used and thrown and nobody wants them to be seen or heard from in the public square. They are barely tolerated (if at all) till fresh riots and killings break out.

Sangh’s secondary organisations, including the BJP, are busy creating scare among Hindus against Muslim “dominance”. They tell Hinduism is in danger from Muslims. In a recent speech BJP president Amit Shah declared famously that a 100 crore infiltrators had entered the country and his party would drive them out, one by one. If a 100 crore of us are infiltrators, then how many are real desis?

We come to the conclusion that the RSS chief’s assurances have not started working on the ground. Does a tiger change its stripes, or a leopard its spots?

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