Capitalising on the
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hood is going about solving its own ‘minorities problem’.
In search of a new Rashtrapati for India, the BJP earlier had PC Alexander, a Christian, in mind. The Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, has nothing but love and affection for the man who has just resigned as the governor of Maharashtra and is now trying to make it to the Rajya Sabha with the Supremo’s blessings. With the Sena–BJP alliance government having never had a moment’s difficulty with Governor Alexander, the Vajpayee–led alliance at the Centre could certainly count on the cooperation of President Alexander.
But then the BJP did one better and discovered Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. From the sangh parivar’s perspective, Kalam the missile–loving Muslim is as good as a made–to–order president. In him, the sangh parivar will have an ‘Eveready’ rebuttal to all charges of minority bashing; even Narendra Modi can now strut around as a Muslim–lover. Kalam Saheb’s daily chants of the secular mantra from the lofty heights of the Rashtrapati Bhavan should be perfect purdah over the harsh choices on the ground that confront millions of Muslims in post genocide Gujarat — servility, boycott or exodus. A chadar also over the obscenity implicit in the sangh parivar’s haste to order snap polls in the state so as to cash in on the carnage. (See cover story).
Meanwhile, with Kalam as cover, the trishuls are being sharpened even outside Gujarat. The anointment of a Shiv Sainik, Manohar Joshi, as Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the appointment of a Bajrang Dali at heart (‘Naam mitao Babur ka!’) Vinay Katiyar as the new UP president of the BJP and the contemplated despatch of Uma Bharati to lead the charge in Madhya Pradesh are all pointers to a near call–to–arms. And with the elevation of the mastermind of the BJP’s 1990 bloody yatra, Union home minister Lal Krishna Advani to the post of deputy prime minister it should be plain to all concerned that the BJP’s allies in the NDA are by now fully at home with hard–line Hindutva. (In the background of it all, working assiduously with a different time frame, Union minister for human resources, Murli Manohar Joshi continues with his agenda of ‘reinterpreting’ history and moulding young minds).
That the votaries of Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra are proud of today’s Gujarat is evident from their public jubilation, post-carnage. The issues and the agenda for the next general election have been clearly determined by the outcome of the experiments in the ‘laboratory of Hindutva’. The moot question is how clearly the rest of India reads the message and responds to the writing on the wall.
Take a look around; the politics of intolerance is flourishing elsewhere in the subcontinent, too. In Pakistan, a girl is gang raped on the orders of a tribal panchayat because her brother dared walk alongside a girl from a ‘superior’ clan. In Bangladesh where the Jamaat–e–Islami is now part of government, Hindus and other minorities continue to be targeted. This only re-strengthens our conviction that the politics of hatred and intolerance in the name of faith needs to be condemned wherever and whenever encountered. In the case of South Asia, the many complexions of hate are mutually reinforcing.
As Jammu and Kashmir gears up for elections, the gruesome and inhuman murder at Kaluchak in May (33 men, women and children massacred) and now again in Jammu (27 innocent labourers from UP are felled only because they were Hindus) are in themselves a denunciation of terrorism masquerading as ‘jehad.’ For lasting peace on the subcontinent, for a climate for rational dialogue to be created, the killing of innocents needs to be unambiguously condemned.
Our March–April issue of CC, ‘Genocide, Gujarat 2002’, received a wide response and has already been translated into many Indian languages. The Gujarati and Hindi versions are due soon. To end on a positive note, we sign off this issue with a salute to our peacemaker of the month, Piyushbhai Desai, the CMD of Gujarat Tea Processors and Packers Limited. A man from the world of mainstream business, this Amdavadi not only minces no words in castigating hate politics in the name of his faith, but also has been more than prepared to put his money where his mouth is.