By Asghar Ali
30 September, 2005
for Study of Society and Secularism
politics, being highly emotional, is heady and creates strong illusion
of success. Those who indulge in communal politics create emotional
hysteria among their followers. However, every observer of such politics
knows that such hysteria does not last long and disappears as quickly
as it creates such hysteria. It is like strong heady wine. We in India
have had many experiences such emotional politics.
The best example
is that of partition hysteria. The Muslim League had no concrete programme
of action. It had one point programme: creation of Pakistan. The direct
action day resulted in massacre of thousands of people. Well, Pakistan
did come into existence at the cost of one million lives and it could
never become a democracy, let alone a stable democracy. And soon Muslim
League disappeared from the scene, a Party which created a country did
not survive longer than a decade. Even when it was revived later during
Zia-ul-Haq's time it could not capture the imagination of the people.
It remained almost a dead horse. It was Pakistan People's Party (PPP)
which became very popular in late sixties and early seventies.
Pakistan was also
a heady wine for a section of Muslims in pre-independence India. But
it did not bring any concrete benefit to Muslim masses. Only the elite
benifted. It is important to note that though communal hysteria is created
in the masses but it benefits politically and economically only the
elite of the community. The masses are ultimately left high and dry.
Masses are made to believe that the movement is for them and they often
sacrifice their lives under that illusion. After the hysteria they realise
that they were used as an instrument.
When I was investigating
the Ahmedabad riots of 1981, which deeply affected the dalits too, some
dalit leaders told me that now we have understood the game of the BJP
and they use us as instruments for their politics. Now we will refuse
to become their hatha (instrument) and kill Muslims. But communal politics
is quite heady and these poor dalits again became their instrument in
1992 and 2002.
The late eighties
saw communal politics at its height in India. The BJP which had adopted
sober programme in 1980 (of secularism and Gandhian socialism) lost
1984 elections very badly and could get as less as two seats in Parliament.
Then the BJP began to play communal game with a vengeance and by 1990
created a hysteria among the Hindu masses (especially the OBCs and Dalits)
on the issue of Ram temple. The slogan mandir wahin banaenge (we will
construct Ram temple there only i.e. at the site of Babri Masjid) successfully
created mass hysteria along the Hindus and a sense of great insecurity
The BJP began to
touch new heights, especially in the Hindi heartland in 1990 when L.K.Advani
took out Rath Yatra for arousing mass hysteria among the Hindus. Many
secularists had then pointed out that the Rath Yatra was undertaken
to counter the promulgation of the implementation of Mandal Commission
as its implementation had created great enthusiasm among the lower caste
Hindus and they were going to lend massive support to Mr. V.P. Singh,
the then Prime Minister and the BJP wanted to win over these low caste
Hindus. The BJP had no economic or welfare programme for them which
V.P. Singh had so it played the mandir card to create mass hysteria
You need an 'other'
and particularly a 'religious other' against whom such a hysteria can
be created. For Muslim League it was the Hindu and for the BJP the Muslim.
Muslims were transformed into an enemy, which need to be attacked. Muslims
were projected as descendents of Babar who was an invader and so the
slogan babar ki aulad jao Pakistan aur Qabrastan (O! children of Babar
go to Pakistan or to qabrastan). Muslims could be easily targeted as
there is long history behind that and so it was easy to create a mass
hysteria against them.
Mr. L.K. Advani
became an instant hero and wherever he went during his rath yatra he
attracted large number of people. And not only Advani but also other
leaders like Sadhvi Rithambara and Uma Bharti who became star attraction
as they spewed poison against Muslims and Rithambara did in even sexually
suggestive language. Also, there was back ground to it. The people of
India were tired of long Congress role and the Congress leaders became
synonymous with corruption and Mr. Advani and others projected the Congress
as a "party with a difference", a clean party which could
provide alternative to the Congress misrule. And Muslims were projected
as the "pampered minority and responsible for keeping the Congress
Thus Muslims could
be doubly targeted in creating a mass hysteria. They were children of
those who demolished their temples, particularly the Ram temple at Ayodhya
and those who were responsible for keeping the corrupt Congress in power.
The BJP thus came to power though with the help of other 'secular' allies.
And now mass hysteria began to recede as it happened in the case of
Muslim League in Pakistan.
Now the BJP had
to face hard realities of ruling over the country. Neither it could
do anything for constructing the temple nor it could maintain its party
with a difference" which it had so assiduously projected. The mass
hysteria was over and hard realities were staring in its face. Also
being in coalition it had to follow the coalition dharma (coalition
religion) and it could not afford to antagonise its 'secular' partners.
Thus it could neither satisfy its extremist friends among Hindutvawadis,
nor could it satisfy its secular friends and supporters. It could not
deliver on any front.
Sometimes it had
to boost up its extremist image and some times its moderate one. The
extremists became more extremists creating un-resolvable dilemmas. The
VHP wanted temple to be constructed and BJP would not only loose its
other allies but would also defy constitutional provisions by defying
law courts, if it at all tried to construct the Ram Temple. Caught in
this dilemma the BJP fast lost its image even as a Hindutva party, let
alone a party with clean image. The media exposed several scandals of
The communal forces
succeed in raising such mass hysteria but soon get thoroughly discredited
and no amount of efforts can revive them. The people feel cheated by
them and they loose all support and even begun to disintegrate. The
BJP is facing similar dilemma today. Mr. Advani, who was the main architect
of BJP's image building is being asked to quit his job as the President
of that party. His exit is really disgraceful for him. The RSS and VHP
hotheads are extracting their pound of flesh. Advani's remarks about
Jinnah's secularism can hardly be swallowed by extremists. They do not
think; they only believe in some dogmas and for them Jinnah is a villain
in toto and cannot be thought of otherwise. But that is not the only
reason for Advani's exit. But the Jinnah controversy provided an excuse
which the Sangh Parivar was looking for.
Mr. Narendra Modi's
fate is no different either. He also used the technique of mass hysteria
to win the Gujarat assembly elections with two-third majority. The whole
Sangh Parivar celebrated his victory and Modi began to be projected
as a role model for entire Parivar. The young leaders of Sangh Parivar
even said that we have found a model for winning elections (i.e. massacre
minorities, create hysteria and win elections) and we will use this
model to win elections in other states.
But soon they were
in for a shock. Let alone others Narendra Modi began to loose his following
among his own Party members. The mass hysteria soon evaporated and Narendra
Modi's dictatorial ways alienated his followers. The dissidents from
his party are now demanding his resignation or removal from the chief
ministership of Gujarat. His communal oratorical skills are of no help
to him. So far he has been protected by Shri L.K.Advani but now Mr.
Advani himself is in serious trouble.
Thus from great
hero Modi is fast sliding towards political oblivion. People like Advani
or Narendra Modi have nothing to be proud of nor will they ever be remembered
for any positive contribution towards greatness of India. If anything
they will be remembered for causing deaths of hundreds of innocent people
through their provocative speeches. Even Shri A.B. Vajpayee is not likely
to go down in history as a sober statesman though he aspires to be one.
He failed to show courage of conviction to take action against Narendra
Modi when he was provoking carnage against minorities.
The fate of Shiv
Sena, another communal outfit from Maharashtra is no different. It once
proudly claimed to be the only genuine Hindutvawadi party and Bal Thackeray
even claimed publicly that his boys struck first blow at Babri Masjid.
Today Shiv Sena is in deep trouble. It also came to power by trashing
minorities and was responsible for Mumbai riots of 1992-93 which had,
like the Gujarat riots of 2002, had shaken the conscience of the whole
hold on the Marathi people has been seriously weakened. His followers
whom he took great pride in, are deserting him. It is a sinking ship
now. Its vote base is being fast eroded. It may soon find itself on
the margins of Maharashtra politics. Its strong holds are crumbling.
Thus it will be
seen that no political party can survive on communal fare for long.
Like a heady wine it goes up fast but then declines even faster. Such
parties do not have any base or even ideals to claim people's support.
Hate politics has serious limitations.