(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 08, 2013
Defeat the Communal Challenge
WE are going to press on the eve of the 21st anniversary of the wanton destruction of the Babri Masjid. This destruction was not merely the demolition of one building, or, an Islamic religious structure alone. It symbolised the efforts to destroy the edifice of the modern secular democratic republic of India that emerged over a century-long epic struggle for India’s freedom and modernity. While shedding crocodile tears, the RSS/BJP have all along claimed that this destruction was the result of a spontaneous `anger’ of the kar sevaks assembled there. They, of course, deliberately bypassed the fact that the build-up to December 6, 1992 was the feverish sharpening of communal polarization whose aim, apart from reaping immediate electoral and political benefits by seeking to consolidate the majority Hindu vote bank, was to carry forward the ideological project of the RSS, defeated by the Indian people at the time of our independence, to convert our modern republic into a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’.
Ten days after the demolition, the Liberhan Commission of enquiry was set-up. After labouring for sixteen and a half years and with 48 extensions of time, its report was finally submitted to the parliament in November 2009. On page 917 of the report in para 158.10 the Commission summarises its findings and conclusions by saying “The claim made by leaders of the movements and the icons from political or social organisations does not carry conviction to conclude that the demolition was carried out by kar sevaks spontaneously out of sheer anger or emotion. The mode of assault, the number of kar sevaks who carried out the demolition and the constraints of the space to accommodate the number of people, veiling of the identity of the kar sevaks entering the domes, the removal of idols and the cash box from under the dome and subsequent re-installation in the make shift temple, construction of the make shift temple, availability of instruments and materials for demolition and for the swift construction of the make shift temple categorically leads to the conclusion and finding that the demolition was carried out with great painstaking preparation and pre-planning.”
Such a deliberate pre-planned action is not only sought to be obfuscated but was also based on a gross misleading of the country and various institutions of our democracy. As the movement for “mandir wahin banayenge” led by L K Advani was wreaking communal violence and mayhem across the country, apprehensions of the possible destruction of the Babri Masjid were raised in the National Integration Council at a meeting in November 1991. The then BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh had assured the country that nothing of such nature would be permitted by saying, “as regards the disputed structure I want to make it clear that I assure you the entire responsibility of the protection of the disputed structure is ours. We should be vigilant about the disputed structure. We have strengthened the arrangements for its protection. Now nobody will be able to go there. No incident would be allowed to be repeated when three persons climbed on the top of the dome. I want to convey this assurance to you through this council. Overall, it is our clear submission regarding the court; we will abide by the order given by the court. We do not want to do anything by violating its order.”
However, soon after demolition, in a public speech in Calcutta, this very chief minister proudly stated that if he had given this job of demolition to contractors, they would have taken many days, but his kar sevaks had achieved the objective in five hours! Characteristic RSS/BJP double speak! The late Comrade Jyoti Basu, as the chief minister of the state of West Bengal, had submitted a video recording of this speech to the Liberhan Commission.
It is, therefore, clear that this destruction was part of a planned undermining of the very foundations of the modern Indian republic. This act, by itself, challenged the capacity of the Indian people and its political leadership to uphold the Constitution and the inalienable rights enshrined in it like ensuring equality for all its citizens irrespective of caste, creed, gender or any other reflection of our country’s vast social and cultural diversity. This is a challenge that continues to confront us even after these two decades.
A decade after the demolition of the Babri Masjid came the ghastly Gujarat communal pogrom. Once again, the flames of communal conflagration engulfed our country’s secular democratic foundations. That the challenge continues to remain potent is reflected by the fact that no one was punished for the destruction of the Babri Masjid even after these two decades and no one, mainly responsible for the Gujarat carnage, has been punished so far. Apart from healing the wounds, such delay in delivering justice only pours salt over these wounds weakening our fragile secular democratic edifice.
Now, a decade after the Gujarat carnage, the RSS/BJP is projecting the Gujarat chief minister under whose aegis this ghastly communal carnage took place as their prospective prime ministerial candidate for the country following the 2014 general elections. After initial hiccups, L K Advani, who led the `rath yatra’ in the 1990s leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and largely symbolising the surcharged atmosphere of communal hatred and violence then, has fallen in line with the RSS/BJP’s decision of projecting their prime ministerial aspirant. He has recently said, on record, that he has been “Modified”.
It is, therefore, not surprising that notwithstanding the media hype and backing of sections of India Inc., as discussed in these columns in the past, the basic underlying message of the RSS/BJP campaign is centered around its core communal agenda. Its prime ministerial candidate itself symbolises the sharpening of communal polarization and hatred. Secondly, the constant refrain of his campaign pitch has been that while all other political parties seek to “divide and rule”, particularly the Congress party, they seek to unite the country and the people. He, however, betrayed the RSS/BJP’s understanding that conditions his consciousness when he said that he is a Hindu and a nationalist, therefore, he is a “Hindu nationalist”.
Now, in the modern Indian republic, a person can embrace the religious belief of being a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsee etc. or be an atheist/agnostic and be a nationalist. All of us, then, are Indian nationalists irrespective of our religious faiths. It is only those who see India as belonging only to the Hindus and excluding all other religious affiliations who can call themselves nationalist of a particular religious variety.
While subtly carrying such insidious messages as the basis of their campaign, the RSS/BJP PM aspirant has now raked up another of their favourite Hindutva issues, ie, abrogation of Article 370 for the state of Jammu & Kashmir. For the RSS/BJP, its core Hindutva agenda always consisted of these three issues – the building of Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 and the imposition of a Uniform Civil Code (in a Hindu country, there should be uniformity and no scope for any diversity). Shed of all its frills, the RSS/BJP campaign boils down to seeking a communal polarization on the basis of this core Hindutva agenda in an effort to consolidate the majority Hindu vote bank in the run-up to the 2014 elections.
It is this campaign that keeps the challenge to our secular democratic foundations not merely alive but kicking. The fact that nobody has been punished for earlier crimes like the destruction of the Babri Masjid or the Gujarat communal pogrom only emboldens the communal forces to mount further offences grievously threatening the unity and integrity of our country. This challenge must be squarely met and defeated in order to advance the struggles for the creation of a better India for a vast majority of our people.
(December 4, 2013)