People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 43

October 27, 2013






People’s Unity against Communalism


THE recent U-turn by the BJP’s PM aspirant over the gold digging that is currently underway in Unnao is typical of the characteristic double speak of the RSS/BJP.  Three days after mocking a `religious guru’  Shobhan Sarkar whose dream about buried gold had sent the Archaeological Survey of India, obviously with governmental sanction, on a bizarre digging expedition, the BJP PM aspirant saluted this guru’s “penance and renunciation”.  In the meanwhile, the BJP sent its Kanpur MLA to Sarkar’s ashram apparently to atone such blasphemy.  For a moment the country thought that the BJP PM aspirant was talking sense.  But only for a moment. 


Such a volte face is understandable given the fact that the RSS/BJP have unambiguously decided to base their campaign for the 2014 elections on sharpening communal polarisation hoping to consolidate the “Hindu vote bank”.  The newly appointed chairman of the BJP’s Election Manifesto Committee said at a press conference: “We want a temple constructed at Ram Janmabhoomi. Our views on this are non-negotiable.”   He went on to say that there would be no compromise on the BJP’s core issues of building a grand Ram temple, scrapping Article 370 that gives a special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, imposing a uniform civil code, protecting the cow and the Ram Sethu (ie, oppose the construction of the navigation channel) and cleaning up the Ganga river. 


In other words, the BJP is reverting back to the basic core agenda of the RSS which is to metamorphose the character of the secular democratic modern Indian Republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’.  The fact that such a project was defeated by the people of India at the time of our independence with the adoption of our Republican Constitution does not deter them.  In pursuit of this project, they spread communal poison  leading to mayhem, death and destruction on a large scale. 


Their vision runs absolutely contrary to the civilisational advance of our country and the continuing unfolding of the idea of India.  While the British united these territories for their colonial plunder, the protracted freedom struggle with innumerable sacrifices had cemented the consciousness of our people and unity of the country.  The victory of the freedom  struggle and the consequent integration of the feudal princely States into the Indian Republic created a country with multiple nationalities united with the consciousness of Indianness.  The Indian civilization itself is the product of the syncretic evolution of various  trends that traversed these lands.  Ours indeed is the churning crucible of civilisational advance.  As Jawaharlal Nehru describes in the Discovery of India, “India is an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet, no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously.”


Further, Rabindranath Tagore says: “Aryans and non-Aryans, Dravidians and Chinese, Scythians, Huns, Pathans and Moghuls, all have merged and lost themselves in one body”.   And, this body is India.


It goes without saying that central to such a syncretic civilisational advance is not merely the acceptance of a rich plurality in social and religious practices but also an active interaction between them leading to a degree of social harmony amidst this rich diversity.


As opposed to this, the RSS was singularly absent in the freedom struggle and maintained a distance from this epic struggle. It has only one claim of a link to the freedom struggle, ie, V D Savarkar.  Eminent historian,  sympathetic to Hindutva tendencies, R C Majumdar, documents in his work on Penal Settlements in Andamans how Savarkar negotiated his release from the Kalapani. It was Savarkar who in his presidential address to the Hindu Mahasabha first put forward that in India there are two nations – Hindu and Islamic.  This was full two years before Mohamad Ali Jinnah advanced his two-nation theory and set in motion, ably aided and abetted by the British, the process leading to the partition of India. It was Savarkar who coined the term `Hindutva’ stating that it has little to do with Hindu religion.  For the creation of a Hindu nation, he gave the slogan “Hinduise the military, militarise Hindudom” – an inspiration that can be seen in the recent events of Hindutva terror.


Hence, when the national mainstream was evolving towards the establishment of an all inclusive modern Republic, the RSS and the Hindutva forces were preparing and working for the establishment of a `Hindu Rashtra’.  This project was conceived  as being able to succeed only on the basis of spreading religious animosity and hatred.  It is these inimical  foundations that continue to breed  forces that seek communal polarisation based on hatred and strife.


This can be seen in today’s context in the recent outburst of the BJP spokesman against the Communal Violence Bill that has been pending before the parliament since the UPA-1 government.  In the aftermath of the Gujarat communal carnage and to fill the serious lacuna in law that does not provide for speedy compensation and rehabilitation of victims of communal riots the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill 2001 was brought before the parliament after long consultations amongst political parties.  There are certain issues of serious concern in the Bill to which the CPI(M) will move concrete amendments but the BJP has now declared its opposition to this proposed legislation saying that it is “a communally targeted vote Bill”. They have gone further to suggest that this Bill is “an attempt to divide society on communal lines” sounds incredulous!  Clearly, the BJP, unambiguously justifying the communal violence that it perpetrates, is against providing any relief, rehabilitation or justice to the victims of communal violence.


The Vishwa Hindu Parishad supported by the local BJP unit has launched  protests against the five-day event organised by the Christian missionaries under the charge that this will be used for mass conversions to Christianity.  This Allahabad friendship festival beginning this week faces the danger of being subverted despite the fact that the organisers have repeatedly gone on record to state that the festival is “not here to tell people that one religion is better than the other”.


These are just two instances which are bound to rapidly multiply as the elections draw closer.  Clearly, such display of religious animosity aimed at sharpening religious polarization and rousing communal tensions goes against the very ethos of the evolution of syncretic India. The renowned patriotic writer Subramania Bharathi, denouncing such tendencies says: “Names of the gods they use – to fuel the fire of vengeance thy fools; it’s there in all existence – and one in all, it’s God.  Hindus who worship the fire – Muslims who pray to the direction of the holy; and Christians who kneel before the holy cross; the god who is worshipped by everyone – the one who lies within all objects; god is one for all the earth – no reason to fight within us, in its name.”


Further, concluding his rousing address to the final session of the Parliament of Religions  on September 27, 1893, Swami Vivekananda says, “If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the  exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced  men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: “Help and not Fight”, “Assimilation and not Destruction”, “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension”.


It is this syncretic evolution of Indian civilization that communalism challenges and seeks to destroy its essence.  In this context, it is imperative that all patriotic Indians who cherish the secular democratic foundations of modern India must unite to face  this challenge. The Convention  calling for people’s unity against communalism is an effort in this direction that needs to be further strengthened in the days to come. 

(October 23, 2013)