By stating that he saw nothing wrong with the concept of a Hindu rashtra, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has added fuel to the debate, which was initiated after noted jurist Fali Nariman described his appointment as the first step towards a Hindu nation. Referring to developments in UP, Nariman had recently commented that “the Constitution is under ‘threat’ and those who cannot see the motive behind appointment of Adityanath are either spokespersons of political parties or they must get their head and eyes examined”.
Voicing the concerns of a large number of intellectuals, Nariman specified that the Constitution retained the backbone of its character, unlike many of those who are endorsing it. His observations came in the wake of the actions of right wing groups which have been propelling to morph India into a Hindu nation. On Thursday, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi came under fire in the Rajya Sabha for attempting to deflect attention from the unsparing lynching by gau rakshaks of a 55-year-old dairy farmer, leading to his cold-blooded death while transporting cows in the Alwar district. The over-zealous role played by self-styled anti Romeo squads too, have left people baffled on whether extra-constitutional authorities and extra-judicial groups had the right to enforce what they deemed to be the law.
In an interview to Doordarshan, Yogi Adityanath championed the Hindu rashtra theory, vocalising that there is nothing wrong with the proposal if it serves the interests of the people and the country. He pointed out that “Hindu rashtra ki awadharna kahin galat nahin…desh ki full bench ki Supreme Court ne iss par apna aadesh jari kiya hai yeh. Hindutva koi mat, koi mazhab ya upasaa vidhi nahi hai. Balki, it’s a way of life (There is nothing wrong in the concept of Hindu rashtra. It is not specific to any caste or religion or any section. The Supreme Court has described Hindutva as a way of life).”
It is not the first time that a demand of such a nature has been made by a senior functionary of the BJP. Even in the early 1990s, when L.K. Advani was at the peak of his popularity following his Somnath to Ayodhya Rathyatra, he had expressed similar sentiments. Advani is known for his articulation and had provided an apt standpoint to a British journalist, who wanted to know his opinion regarding converting India into a Hindu state.
The BJP patriarch had opined that India is a Hindu country in the same manner as England was a Christian country. However, being a Christian country did not barricade people practising other faiths from residing there. Likewise in India as well, all citizens could follow their religious convictions and live in communal harmony.
Advani being a seasoned politician expressed his views with a flair of sophistication, which is by and large lacking in the current strident supporters of Hindutva. It is most significant that Advani was at that time advised by RSS ideologue Govindacharya, known for his astuteness and political wisdom. It was his association with Govindacharya, which facilitated his transformation as the tallest leader in his party at that stage.
There was another noteworthy reflection Advani had made during his interview to the same journalist. He had said that India has thrived as a democracy solely because it is a Hindu majority state. Had it not been Hindu dominated, it is difficult to imagine that it would have continued to survive as a democracy.
His pronouncement was based evidently on what has happened in Pakistan as also in virtually all other Muslim dominated countries where with the exception of, perhaps, Turkey, genuine democracy does not exist. Most of the Islamic countries have despots who declare themselves to be legally elected on the basis of rigged polls. In some countries like Pakistan, the elected representatives are subservient to the Army and thus lack legitimate authority. It is another matter that several Western countries too are growing intolerant and thereby deviating from the very principles of democracy.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s rise in India is directly related to people’s rejection of the policies of the so called secular parties whose transparent tilt towards the minorities did not cut ice with the electorate. In fact, the Congress, which was the primary political party in the country, has collapsed under the weight of its faulty agenda, thus enabling and expediting the rise of the saffron brigade.
However, the BJP and its allies must realise sooner than later that to be a long term player in the shifting sands of politics, they would be expected to address important economic and poverty related issues other than pandering to right wing forces desirous of a Hindu rashtra. In the last three years, the party has virtually taken off good governance and development from its agenda and is banking on Hindutva to reap political dividends.
When Amit Shah formulates his strategy and his vision for Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Guwahati to Chowpatty, he must ensure that inclusive, rather than exclusive, politics receives prominence. His thesis should have a fair amount of principled and workable economics. Most importantly, whatever the party does, must not come in the way of maintaining unity, peace and security in the country. Between us.