People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 14, 2004
Biggest Aberration Are Vajpayee, Advani & Co
Harkishan Singh Surjeet
NOW that the union home minister cum deputy prime minister L K Advani, the undoubted number 2 in BJP, has set out on yet another rathyatra, the atmosphere in the country has again got surcharged all of a sudden. In particular, the minorities are terrified no end.
reason is obvious. There is all probability that this rathyatra, which has already started in a well equipped motor
vehicle by the time we write these lines, will leave behind a trail of blood and
mayhem in its 33-day course. For, this is just what the earlier rathyatras
undertaken by this hawkish BJP leader did. One will recall that if two yatras
not officially owned by BJP are discounted (as, contrary to the party’s
expectations, they ended in a whimper), then this is the third rathyatra Advani has undertaken, and each of the earlier two yatras
led to communal disturbances and/or tensions in all the major cities and towns
it passed through. As an account of these disturbances and tensions is being
printed elsewhere in this issue, we would not go into their details. Suffice it
to say that Advani himself has admitted a connection between his latest rathyatra and the earlier ones. His precise words were: “As I see
it, there is an intrinsic link between this yatra
and the previous two.” And this is precisely how the masses too view it. If
his earlier yatras earned notoriety
for the killing and maiming of innocent people, they ask, would it be otherwise
LEADERS of the BJP are, incidentally, very fond of moving out in rathas (chariots) --- a nostalgic name they give to the motorcades that are full of all luxuries as well as modern amenities including electronic gadgets. Nay, their cavalcades also include a number of followers, including many who are more of personal servants than followers. So far, Advani alone has undertaken officially three and unofficially five yatras including the present one. Then, when Murli Manohar Joshi was the BJP president, how could he remain behind Advani --- his predecessor who also succeeded him! So in 1991 he too undertook a rathyatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir that, however, ended in a whimper. Then, apart from these two of the three top BJP leaders, even minnows like Singhal and Togadia are fond of taking out yatras at the local or state level.
A noteworthy thing about these yatras is that they are undertaken when the BJP is desperate and/or one or another election is round the corner. Recalling the yatras undertaken by Advani, for example, veteran journalist G S Chawla notes that “every time a rathyatra was undertaken by Advani, it was done in desperation.” This was precisely the situation in 1990 when the V P Singh government’s decision to implement the Mandal recommendations, that were gathering dust for the preceding ten years, posed a threat to the BJP’s prospects. Then, this party raised the temple issue, euphemistically called Kamandal, in reaction to the Mandal report. The yatra that Advani, then the BJP president, undertook was the bloodiest among all the forays he has undertaken so far. It is true that, at the culmination of this yatra and in conjunction with a group of self-seekers, the BJP succeeded in toppling the VP government that it had pledged to support from outside, but this was achieved at a very high cost. For, the period after that posed a severe threat to our national unity --- unprecedented in this country’s history since partition.
Earlier, in 1984, the VHP had undertaken a yatra in the name of ‘liberation’ of the Ramjanmabhoomi at Ayodhya, when the 1985 Lok Sabha polls were approaching. This was before Mrs Indira Gandhi’s dastardly assassination that, however, overturned the Sangh Parivar’s apple cart. The BJP could get just two seats in those elections.
yatra in 1991 was undertaken in view
of the then impending Lok Sabha polls, and the same can be said about Advani’s
second yatra in 1998. Then, in
January-February 2002, the VHP took out a Samkalp
Yatra from Lucknow to Delhi during the run-up to assembly elections in Uttar
Pradesh. Later in the same year, Narendra Modi undertook a so-called Gaurav
Yatra in Gujarat when the state was to go to assembly polls. It is therefore
no wonder that Advani has embarked on yet another yatra
precisely at a time when the country is to go to Lok Sabha polls in about one
these yatras had had mixed outcomes
and some ended in miserable failures, yet a few things they all had in common.
First, they all were signs of the BJP’s desperation in face of crucial
elections. And, secondly, all these so-called yatras, including the ones that ended in failures from an electoral
point of view, caused serious setbacks to our national unity and communal
harmony. But that precisely was the Sangh Parivar’s aim.
HOWEVER, if one says that the Sangh Parivar directly involves itself in vitiating the communal atmosphere in the country, that would be a half-truth at the best. For, the Parivar gives a boost to the communal and fundamentalist forces among the minorities too, by instilling a sense of fear among them. And then the rise of such forces among the minorities gives the Parivar’s depredations further boost and an apparent (only apparent) justification. This is what one means when one says that fundamentalism of all varieties feed one another, though the Sangh Parivar is undoubtedly the biggest beneficiary of this vicious circle. It is thus natural if the Parivar has a vested interest in setting such a vicious circle into motion, and precisely this it has done all along. The way Narendra Modi exploited the terrorist attack on Akshardham Temple for winning the Gujarat polls is a case in point.
It appears that Advani’s latest foray has started a similar process in some parts of the country. Reporting from Punjab, for instance, G S Chawla says the latest rathyatra is being viewed as an icon of the “bloody agenda of fundamentalist BJP.” According to Chawla, “state BJP unit has threatened those opposing the rathyatra saying that the youth of the state would not remain mute spectators to any disruptive attempt by those forces whose separatist credentials were known to all.” He also points out that “serious controversy has arisen in Punjab” on the issue and that “threats and counter threats are being issued” by the Hindu and Sikh fundamentalists.
The conclusion Chawla reaches is something that would worry all the peace loving Indians who want to see that our national unity and communal amity are not jeopardised. He says: “This is exactly the situation that was responsible for the rise of separatism and fundamentalism in Punjab in 1981-82 which later on engulfed the entire country in flames.” This veteran journalist also adds that the acrimony between two Sikh leaders --- Prakash Singh Badal who is supporting the rathyatra and Simranjit Singh Mann who is opposing it --- may lead to a further worsening of the situation in Punjab.
One would not be surprised if similar or even worse reports come from other parts of the country in the next 33 days. For, debunking all claims that the yatra aims to popularise the BJP led government’s ‘achievements’ in the last five or six years, virtually all media commentators are agreed that it really aims to effect a communal polarisation in the country.
Is it accidental? The fact is that the so-called ‘India Shining’ campaign has by now lost all its sheen, if it had had any sheen at all, and the BJP suddenly finds itself in wilderness, with all its ‘feel good’ claims evoking more of ridicule than empathy. In such a situation it feels it cannot hope to reach the goal post, if at all, without raising the communal issues. And that is why, from Ayodhya, Vajpayee begged for yet another five years for constructing a temple there, and Advani was egged on to go on yet another yatra through the length and breadth of the country.
this also explains why the RSS is so keen to get a so-called vision document
issued before the polls. The aim is to project all such contentious issues
through this document, which the BJP cannot project through the NDA’s poll
manifesto. This is becoming clever by half --- that they want to have the apple
and eat it too.
TODAY, the BJP pretends injured that others are not prepared to buy its claim that the latest yatra aims to popularise the so-called achievements of the government. It is also dubbing as insinuation if someone points out that Advani’s past rathyatras had left behind them a trail of blood and mayhem.
This is understandable. But a small thing the party forgets, and also wants others to forget, is that Advani is himself the union home minister today and has therefore access to the home ministry reports on what his past rathyatras were able to achieve. Chawla correctly points out: “If he has any sense of responsibility as home minister of the country, he should first read the official reports in his own ministry on his earlier rathyatra where it is written that as a result of his rathyatra in 1989 (read: 1990), there were many communal clashes in many parts of the country.”
Further: “If Advani goes by the agenda of the state police chiefs in the capital in March 1991, which was prepared by the home ministry, there is a clear mention by name that Advani’s rathyatra had resulted in many communal clashes in the country. Even the verdict given by the sessions judge trying the Ayodhya case in September 1997 had, on the basis of the evidence led (!) by the CBI, come to the conclusion that Advani had started conspiring to demolish the Babri Masjid from his rathyatra.”
conclusion is, again, obvious. To quote Chawla again: “But if still, despite
these reports, he insists on his rathyatra,
this will clearly establish that his actions are anti-national, amounting to
creating communal polarisation in the country.”
YET, Advani is guilty not of selective amnesia; rather it is outright deception that he is adept in practicing. A latest example of this deception is the way he tried to underplay the gravity of the Gujarat massacre of 2002. First of all, at an official function on March 8, he talked of “riots” in Gujarat while the whole world is unanimous that it was no riot in the accepted sense of the term. Rather, it was a full-fledged massacre of Muslims --- one that was being planned for at least six months preceding the heinous Godhra carnage.
Secondly, though electoral compulsions have forced Advani to describe these “riots” as a “blot” on the nation --- which this massacre undoubtedly was --- in the same breath this man dubbed it as an “aberration.” This is deplorable, to say the least. It is known that more than 2,000 Muslims were killed in cold blood in Gujarat in those horror-filled months, many times more were injured and maimed, at least 80,000 families were uprooted from their hearth and home, hundreds of women were defiled, children put to death, and attempts were made to break the economic backbone of the Muslim community in Gujarat. Yet, to Advani, this was only an “aberration,” nothing more!
Lastly, it is known that this genocide was perpetrated with the full backing of the state government over which an RSS pracharak and BJP luminary is presiding. But it is the same Narendra Modi, the head butcher of Gujarat, upon whom both Vajpayee and Advani have heaped praises more than once. If Modi’s police and administration were made to extend all help and patronage to the killers, was it simply an “aberration,” as Advani says?
Yet, there is a question Advani must be asked and compelled to reply. Soon after he became the home minister in 1998, he sent central teams to opposition ruled Tamilnadu and West Bengal in the name of judging the law and order situation there, so that the way could be paved for president’s rule in these states. It is another thing that public outcry forced them not to resort to any such anti-democratic move. Then, Advani’s ministry twice dismissed the elected RJD government of Bihar and even conspired to put Nitish Kumar in the chief minister’s chair; it is again another thing that the fellow had to run away even before seeking a vote of confidence. Now the question is this. We are of course not in favour of imposition of president’s rule in any state unless our national unity or territorial integrity is at stake. But one must certainly ask: was the Gujarat of March-June 2002 not a fit case for imposition of president’s rule there? Why, then, Advani did not dismiss Modi, as he had dismissed the Bihar government? Because Modi belonged to his own party?
An aberration! But if you ask, Vajpayee, Advani & Company are the biggest aberration in this great secular, democratic country, and the sooner the country gets rid of them, the better for it and its people.