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Temple, Toilet And Sangh Politics

By Ram Puniyani

07 September, 2013

After a long campaign the RSS combine succeeded in demolishing Babri Mosque on 6th December 1992. While Advani was the lead person in the whole phenomenon, there were many RSS swayamsevaks who formed the foundation of this dastardly act, one of them being Narendra Modi, the BJP’s current Prime Ministerial candidate. The importance given to this identity issue, temple issue, undermined the real issues baying at society for solution. This temple issue was too compelling for Advani-Modi and company. It undermined the issues of society related to survival. At that time many a magazines carried the surveys as to what should be built at the site of demolition. Many a people said that either an educational institute or a hospital or sanitation facilities should be built at the site.

Kanshiram, the leader of Bahujan Samaj Party strongly put forward the case for a urinal being constructed at the site. Somewhere on the parallel lines a couple of years ago, Jairam Ramesh the union Cabinet minister said that toilets are more important than temples. On similar lines the Modi recently (October 2013) said that he regards Shauchalay (Toilet) should precede Devalay (Temple). When Ramesh had made his statement Modi associates, the Sangh activists urinated and also kept urine bottles in front of Ramesh’s house. BJP spokespersons went on to accuse Ramesh of destroying the fine fabric of faith and religion in the country. This time around, when Modi has made this statement, those spokespersons are silent, while Praveen Togadia has criticized Modi. Other Sangh progeny has kept mum on the issue. Many a commentators have come forward to uphold Modi’s statement saying that this is the soft side of Hindutva, and this is what is needed and will help the BJP to increase its electoral strength. Jairam Ramesh again states (Oct 2013) that in the forthcoming elections Congress has to fight against RSS not BJP.

For the commentators, saying that this is liberal side of Hindutva, it should be clear that the elections are overall coordinated not by BJP but by RSS. It is all the RSS progeny which comes together to put in their best for BJP’s prospects. So while Modi will be projecting that for him now, after Babri demolition two decades ago, toilet is more important than the temple. This surely is a very tactical move. RSS operates at various levels at the same time. It has a clever internal division of labor as per which the VHP can keep the issue of Ram Temple alive, its other wings can reap the harvest of communal violence by polarizing the society, and its supportive structures will play the role of Goebbels to create the image of Modi as the man committed to development, as an efficient man, good administrator and what not.

In the next elections RSS is going to use multiple strategies. One, to polarize the society through violence and through keeping alive the issue of Ram temple. Second it is going bank heavily on twin propaganda around Modi, the Gujarat model of development and Modi’s own leadership qualities, i.e. his autocratic style of functioning. For this purpose if Modi is talking about development and toilets it is again a very clever mover. Modi built himself up by polarizing the Gujarat society through post Godhra carnage. During all these years he played the subtle Hindutva agenda of marginalizing the minorities, as is evident in the prevalent conditions in Gujarat. Having consolidated this polarization as a state policy, he changed gears. As the Gujarat society got polarized due to this carnage, his tune was changed to the one of development. This development claims have been punctured by the statistics from various sources. The latest one being that every third child in Gujarat is malnourished. This is the revelation of the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General. So many other statistics have burst the myth of Gujarat development.

Jairam Ramesh, in saying that the Congress will be fighting against RSS in the forthcoming elections is correct but this is a very obvious statement. While as per him, RSS will be fought against in the next elections as RSS is controlling BJP. This became obvious as RSS directly imposed president and prime ministerial candidate on BJP. This is part of the story. As a seasoned and senior politician he should know that BJP’s core and main leadership is constituted by RSS swayamsevaks. Atal Bihari Vajpeyee in his Staten Island speech in United States had stated this in so many words, saying that he is first a RSS swayamsevak and then anything else. The pattern of RSS functioning is such that it trains the swaymsevaks, into the Hindu Rashtra ideology and then these trained swayamsevaks undertake different assignments for building Hindu nation, the agenda of RSS. All the RSS progeny is manned by these swayamswvaks. The core leadership of these organizations in turn is coordinated by RSS. So Modi can talk of toilets, Togadiaya can stick to temples, someone at lower level can upload a video on mobiles to instigate the communal violence, while someone else can work in saffronizing text books or undertaking the massive plays like Janata Raja, a play on Shivaji, which is built around communal projection of History. The swayamsevaks, seeped in ideology of Hindu Rashtra also infiltrate into state organizations. One hopes that the major electoral party, which should stand for pluralism, knows its truth in totality. This party should also know that RSS control and coordination of the politics is not just though electoral means. It is multi pronged through different mechanisms.

So the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram or Samajik Samrasta Manch may be working in remote areas doing social engineering, still they make the foundation of RSS agenda. In that sense electoral politics is a small part of the enterprise of RSS work, which by now has infiltrated all aspect of our social and political life. This agenda of RSS, Hindu Nation or what can be popularly called Hindu Pakistan, is of course against the ethos of Indian diversity, it is for an authoritarian elite dominated society, and this is for the agenda of domination of a section of Hindus, while talking of the interests of all Hindus.

This work of RSS has gone up from last three decades and its infiltration in different pores of society goes up by leaps and bounds once the state is ruled by BJP. That's what happened when BJP led NDA was ruling the country from 1998 to 2004. That’s what is happening in different states ruled by BJP. The likes of Jairam Ramesh, if they have woken to this stark reality of our body politic, it is welcome but this fact has been very obvious to those who have been trying to understand the phenomenon of RSS politics. So for those political elements who are interested in upholding democracy, pluralism and the values of Indian Constitution, it is not adequate just to think of the menace of religious nationalism, just at the times of elections. It is a battle, which has to be fought at all the times, more at the times of elections surely, in the arena of culture, literature, art and every other aspect of the life of the Indian nation.

Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He is involved with human rights activities from last two decades.He is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives like All India Secular Forum, Center for Study of Society and Secularism and ANHAD.


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