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The unsure stage of Indian democracy...

 

Shiva Thorat

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It was around the time that the Constitution of India was delivered to Rajendra Prasad: after Gandhi's assassination by Godse and in response, the former home minister Sardar Patel banned the then fledgeling right-wing organization - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The Prime Minister's modern-day Sanghi agendas are more brutal than those of the leaders of the past. Nathuram Godse assassinated Gandhi—who was a Congress leader and led many movements like the salt satyagraha at Dandi and the Quit India Movement. PM Modi introduced the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the name of Gandhi and worshipped Godse on his birth anniversary.

Construction of Patel's statue during this regime made popular material for news, memes and stand-up comedians. Madan Mohan Malaviya—a staunch leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and an Uttar Pradesh Brahmin, other than being the President of the Indian National Congress four times—had to be on the list of names to be commemorated by PM Modi. Malaviya was also the founder of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and produced many Sanskrit texts during his lifetime. Interestingly, Malaviya is not discussed in this light today; he is known as just another freedom fighter or one of the political leaders who were part of the formation process of this country. But it is an indirect statement by the Sangh Parivar--naming schemes, erecting statues in the name of Gandhi, Patel and Malaviya--that he was a significant part of nation-making. Hence, the national mission for teachers and teaching materials is in Malaviya's name.

These prominent names have undoubtedly helped the cause of Golwalkar, Savarkar and Vivekananda. PM Modi has repeatedly invoked these names on social media platforms. One of his tweets says: "Veer Savarkar epitomizes courage, patriotism and unflinching commitment to a strong India". Meanwhile, the Sangh has told the world that it doesn't matter to them which parties their members belong to as long as they continue working for the Sangh's cause, where loyalty to the cause is usually displayed in the form of intense PDA (Political Display of Affection). By bringing these figures back into public consciousness, the Sangh is trying to give a much larger message—call for the resurrection of Ram Rajya.

Interestingly, the only visionary who had opposed all of these historical figures and made sure that they had to heed his work and words was the architect of the Constitution of India—Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Yet these figures were so 'Upper Caste' in their views that they were just not ready to lose their privileges. They still aren't. Nehru was an exception to this rule in some ways and thus, the Sangh has been directly defaming him through various means. At the time of Gandhi's hunger strike in Poona, Malaviya was the one who went to talk to Babasaheb Ambedkar on the issue of Indian Nationalism and its security. Patel has always been concerned about Jinnah's actions and tried to hide behind Babasaheb's argument. In the merger of princely states into the Union of India, Sardar Patel was considered the man who convinced difficult states like Kashmir. Around the same time, Babasaheb was drafting the constitution. This is what the Article 370 and special treatment for Jammu and Kashmir state is about. Patel did negotiate Hyderabad over Kashmir to gain the Muslims' attention. 

While the Sangh has tried misappropriating Babasaheb through celebrating events like Samarasata Diwas, they have resorted to alienation tactics for people like Maulana Azad, Jinnah and Dadabhai Naoroji as they belonged to elite Muslim and Parsi communities. But in fact, Babasaheb was disappointed even by this trio.

The current regime is advocating the dream of Ram Rajya by trying to cover it with a false layer of liberalness, but at the same time imposing the core philosophy of Hindutva or Hinduism that has its roots in Manusmriti. Look at the people in the government, cinema industry, real estate, big factories, and companies working with big data and digital algorithms, multi-billionaires like Ambani; how are all these people for the Ram Rajya? We the people of India might not necessarily listen to these people, but we need to understand the crux of the matter. What disturbs me about the case of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the sentimentality of its supporters towards this aspiration of Ram Rajya. Several of these people are prominent cosmopolitan figures who have routinely supported the RSS and paid tributes to the domestic Indian Hindu culture. I am anxious because I can see how the future is likely to be affected. People protesting against CAA/NRC are bringing Gandhi together with Babasaheb, but I remember what Babasaheb said to Gandhi during their debates on Poona Pact when Gandhi expressed his concern about Akhand Bharat and Ram Rajya; Babasaheb simply told him, "I have no homeland".

With a lethal combination of weapons consisting of CAA and the NRC, the Constitution of India is being jeopardized and all dissent against the Ram Rajya is being killed. The exercise done in Assam was just the pilot, and implementing it in the whole country is the main game plan. Even as the Constitution is secular, 'proving' one's citizenship through documents will inevitably cause instability and chaos along religious lines in the presence of the CAA. The vulnerability of Muslims, Dalits, Tribes and Other Backward Classes will lead to a state of disorder. This exercise is fundamentally intended to be communal—as if what we have at present is not communal enough. In the time that will be given to each person to prove their 'citizenship', the work of improving social and economic conditions will fall on the sidelines. Because of the presence of a strong Constitutional framework in the country, PM Modi's government has been unable to push many of their agendas directly, and therefore they are taking the twisted route. This clearly shows how democratic the present government is. The Modi-Shah duo has not addressed the fundamentally anti-national nature of the Indian society in the form of caste inequality and brutalities committed against oppressed castes. Babasaheb said, "The castes are anti-national in the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste".  

The saga of jeopardizing the Constitution began much before the CAA-NRC came into the picture. In August 2019, Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir a unique recognition was revoked without the consent of the local government. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act has been passed and enforced. The High Denomination Bank Notes Act of 1978 was re-introduced in 2016 in the name of stopping the circulation of black money. A section of the Indian population perhaps still believes that the 2000 rupee note contains an electronic chip inside it. The present regime has even amended Article 334 to discontinue the provision of reservation for Anglo Indians in the parliament. Even as they have extended the period of reservations for SC/STs, it won't be far when they completely scrap these provisions as well. First, they will attack the reservations in parliament, then eventually in jobs, education and the private sector. Against the backdrop of all this, the economy has slowed down tremendously and benefits accruing to capitalists such as the Tata, Ambani, Birla and Adani groups have grown immensely.

The present regime is predictably marching towards the idea of the rule of 'Manu' in the country. They are stifling all the voices of dissent. They are polarizing the nation along the lines of religion. 2014 election and polarisation on issues like development and corruption had paved the way for the Sangh's stand against the constitution. While the masses in the country are protesting, the stooges of the Government are busy telling the story that these changes are for the betterment of the country. PM Modi travelled a lot and established the notions of Indian culture, development and anti-corruption to which many NRIs paid attention but in reality, it means nothing in society, urban or rural India. Everything is being burnt to build a Ram Rajya. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has made a bid to change the name of Meerut to Pandit Nathuram Godse Nagar. We all have also witnessed through social media the repressive actions of the UP government. Yogi Adityanath's unshackled regime has threatened revenge against Muslims of his state. He also told that losses from vandalisation will be recovered. Karnataka's CM Yeddyurappa is also ready to recover the vandalised property from the Muslims. And there are many BJP politicians who said 'anti-nationals' will be thrown out. If all this goes as planned, Sanghi agendas will certainly march on forward. If unopposed, there is no doubt that one day the Constitution of India will be replaced by Manusmriti.

~~~

 

Shiva Thorat currently works at the Centre for Education, Innovation and Action Research, TISS.

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