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Dilemma of Secularists is Obvious in Their Demands

Author: Rakesh Sinha
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: August 24, 2014
URL: http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Dilemma-of-Secularists-is-Obvious-in-Their-Demands/2014/08/24/article2394715.ece

In every television discussion on the government or RSS, PM Narendra Modi draws support from unusual quarters. Indian secularists, who had unleashed the most contemptuous propaganda against him since 2002, left no stone unturned to demonise him by drawing parallels with Hitler, Mussolini and the Ku Klux Klan. They broadcast to the world community that the 2002 riots were ‘genocide’ and Modi its villain. Yet, their 10-year-long organised disinformation campaign could not stop the horizontal as well as vertical expansion of the RSS and BJP.

Finding the BJP’s march to power inevitable, secularists used their intellectualism to prevent Modi from emerging as the BJP’s PM candidate. They now donned the garb of well-wishers of the Sangh Parivar and NDA. Many of them openly demanded that the RSS block Modi. They invented a new political theology—Sangh Parivar minus Modi was “acceptable”. Yesterday’s ‘Hindu extremist’ L K Advani became their overnight favourite. But any documentation of newspaper clippings and writings in secularist academic journals from 1992 to 2002 will unravel their similar hatred for Advani. Their witnesses in the Liberhan Commission against Advani, and writings, painted him as responsible for fanning communal riots leading to killings of hundreds of people during his Rath Yatra.

After 2002, Advani was supplanted by Modi as the ‘Hindu extremist’. The 2014 verdict, however, has exposed secularists’ intellectualism and their shallow perception of realities. This has made them change their tune vis-à-vis Modi; they’ve now begun patting him for his developmental agenda, something they never did during his chief ministership of Gujarat. Rather, they ridiculed his Gujarat Model. This overnight volte face shows their sheer opportunism.

Secularists have reversed their political theology and rearticulated their perspective towards Sangh Parivar and Modi. Now, Modi-minus-Sangh Parivar is acceptable to them. They now use the developmental agenda as their mask to deride the Sangh Parivar for allegedly trying to “divert the government” from its developmental agenda.

How does any debate on secularism or the nature of India’s nationalism disrupt policies for the poor, unemployment or Foreign Direct Investment? In fact, ideological discourses are autonomous affairs as long as they are not sponsored by the state. The RSS has never been state-centric by temperament. Undoubtedly, its social actions and intellectual pursuit are bound to generate many questions to the secularist brigade who, instead of contesting them intellectually, has been betraying the autonomous zone of intellectualism by associating with ruling dispensations.

Secularists are uncomfortable with the ideological advancement of RSS. They still cling to their discredited thesis, as once proclaimed by Subhadra Joshi, leader of the Sampradayikata Virodhi Committee, “The ideology of the RSS is opposed to the values of nationalism and democracy as adopted by the Indian people in the constitution.”

This is not the first time. Secularists change their strategy every time people of RSS origin come to power. After Janata Party’s coming to power in 1977, these elements organised a seminar in January 1978 on the “character of RSS”. One of the speakers, Raghu Thakur, a socialist, said, “Let’s forget what happened in the past (during Emergency) because the danger RSS poses today and for the future is too serious to allow any loss of time in mutual arguments”. The seminar, however, also witnessed dissent from CPI(M)’s Zahoor Siddiqui who countered those who were projecting RSS as a threat to democracy and secularism. “It was not RSS that imposed the Emergency. There was no Golwalkar at Turkman Gate, Muzaffarnagar or Pipli,” he said. The present dilemma of Indian secularists is obvious with their demands for an ideological ceasefire.

- rakeshsinha46@gmail.com

Sinha is Hony. Director of India Policy Foundation
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