The Knives Are Out FAISAL HASHMI (sept 26, 2007)

The Knives Are Out


The unfortunate controversy over Ram Sethu and the historicity of Shri Ram has claimed its first victims. Two Tamils travelling in a bus in Karnataka close to the Tamil Nadu border were burnt to death recently. A mob of VHP activists had set the bus on fire.

The two died a horrible death just because they happened to be from Tamil Nadu, whose chief minister M Karunanidhi has said that Shri Ram was not a historical character. Under the able leadership of LK Advani of Babri Masjid fame, a new movement in Shri Ram’s name is already under way. This movement too, like the Babri Masjid demolition movement (to ultimately construct a Ram Mandir on the site where Babri Masjid stood), is going to be violent if Advani, his party and allied organisations are allowed to have their way.

After having killed the first two sacrificial goats BJP is well on its way to an electoral victory. Or, so it thinks. Taking the contrived controversy over Ram Sethu as a windfall, it is out to cash in on a faux pas of the administration. It is taking out its rusted Hindutva weapons and whetting them for the next electoral battle. Muslims have reason to be concerned keeping in view previous experience.

Obviously to set the political couldron on boil, Ram Vilas Vedanti, a VHP leader and a former member of Parliament issued the edict that he would give Rupees 10 million (Rs 1 crore) to someone who killed Karunanidhi. The murder of two Tamilian bus travellers combined with Vedanti’s inflammatory gesture aggravated the tension. DMK leaders in New Delhi asked the Union government to launch criminal proceedings against Vedanti, who quickly backed off and said he was "misquoted."

True to the familiar Sangh style of hide-and-seek Vedanti soon said that the Hindu scriptures prescribed death for a sacriligious act like Karuanidhi’s. He said it was not his personal opinion, but the verdict of Hindu scriptures. Infuriated DMK activists set fire to Chennai offices of BJP and other associated Sangh organisations.

DMK is also concerned about the stalling of the Sethusamudran (Ram Sethu) project because of BJP’s posturing. It is an ongoing drama as BJP has already decided to make the Ram Sethu an election issue which would provide a platform for persons like Vedanti to make inflammatory remarks. On its part the DMK has scheduled meetings and protest marches against BJP’s tactics of stalling work on the project. This is an ironic situation as it was BJP-led NDA which had initially proposed the project when it was ruling at the Centre.g

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