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The Yogi As Commissar?

By Farzana Versey

09 June, 2011

The man speaks about violence. Why is the government not arresting him since they do not hesitate to crack down on Maoists? Does no one realise how this could snowball into something dangerous without any results for the ostensible purpose it was started for? It is a delicate time and not for pussy-footing. I do not care at this juncture what the government of India and the various leaders within the Congress party are upto. This is making hay time, but what Baba Ramdev is doing is enticing the youth.

By mid-June, he wants a “militia of volunteers” to train in shastra (arms) and shaastra (scriptures):

“Peetenge nahin par pittenge bhi nahin (we will not beat anyone, but we won’t be beaten either),” declared the yoga guru at his morning satsang at the Patanjali Ashram. The army of 11,000 volunteers he wants to form will train in martial arts, traditional as well as karate, and learn to wield the lathi.

He also dropped dark hints about this struggle being taken up by the young whether he is around to see it or not.

We all know that due to the surge of getting together the youth, all political parties had started the process. So, Ramdev has a readymade constituency of naïve people who think they are going to bring about change. This is no different from kar sevaks who landed up with bricks at Ayodhya.

There will be the usual noises about Islamic terror. Has he come out and said he is fighting it? He is playing a sneaky game. His bring a front for the RSS is redundant. The RSS shakhas do train their members on how to use lathis and how to remain celibate. Much as any good yogi would. But the RSS says it is fighting Muslims, which the Jan Sangh and others have been doing before Partition. Ramdev is keeping shut. He is the bigger politician.

A report says, “His trump card is the presence of a motley group calling itself the Bharat Muslim Manch whose banner demands the ouster of non-Indians from the country.”

Who is this group? I won’t be surprised if Muslims have joined his group. Every political party has them, and they are often more loyal than the king, although they work as a harem. Good for some variety and fun, but with no status. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will cry himself hoarse, but he is just a BJP tattu (plaything).

Don’t we have an army for that? Why do we have a government at all if this sort of nonsense is permitted? What next? A kangaroo court? His fake assurances reveal his mindset:

“The words should be used in the right context...I said I will make a force who will not beat anyone but they will not get beaten either. What is the harm or wrong if I speak about shaurya (valour)?”

You do not need a force for that. You just do what you are supposed to do and no one will mess with you. There is a woman who was beaten up rather badly at the Ramlila ground and is now in coma. Instead of starting legal proceedings, his chelas are busy giving interviews to a hungry media, not to speak about his own press conferences. What will Anna Hazare’s group say to this?

Why is there not a major protest against his violent statements? What valour is there in self-defence, which is part of the survival instinct? Common citizens, especially in disturbed areas, have to face such situations? Do they form armies? Will they be permitted to?

His caste is being mentioned these days in the mainstream media. This is a new development. No one talked about it earlier and what has he done for his lower caste? Does he speak about caste? What outside forces are responsible for caste factions?

Is there a fear that this will give boost to the Hindutva movement? No. The Hindutva movement is well-entrenched. It will, however, act as another arm of it – the strategy that the BJP and RSS employ where one comes out as the moderate for political reasons and the other plays the hard line. This confuses people and a confused people do not have time to think. Ramdev has come at the right time for the saffron group. One would like to know his views on saffron terror. What does he have to say about it, since he has now moved from corruption to this ‘army’?

There is no comparison with the revolutions within the Arab world because they were fighting against specific leaders and their policies. In India one could talk of the emergence of the Janata Dal as such a movement and later the Jan Morcha. Ramdev’s, and Anna Hazare’s, rallies are not even close to Lokmanya Tilak using the Ganesh Chaturthi festival to convey the message of freedom from the British. The superficial fight against corruption was bad enough; now we have this completely pugnacious stance of violence as valour, and he may hide beneath any excuses.

It is unfortunate that the Congress has lost such credibility that anything is does now will only give more arsenal to this yogi as conniving commissar.

There are people who are trying to make this into a Hindu vs. Muslim fight especially if the people objecting happen to be Muslim. It does not take much effort to figure out that the Indian Muslim has every right to object as a citizen of this country. This has nothing to do with ‘Islam says so’, although one can imagine that this is a convenient way to set traps. Indian Muslims are not outsiders and constitute the indigenous population. They have not come to India from anywhere. And in the years after Partition, they have had to bear the brunt of criminal acts by establishment forces. The Hindutva renaissance such as it is has used the ‘ancient heritage’ theory. This heritage includes Muslims.

History is being twisted to even claim that the Partition was the result of militant Islam. If anything, there were militant Hindutva groups at the time. They could not tolerate the idea of a secular nation. The Muslim League was a political group and chose its history in another country.

Ramdev is trying his stunts within the Indian nation. If he wants to create fissures, first by fighting for a civil issue and then against outsiders, then he must come clean about his intentions. Declare war against specifics instead of just aiming aimless darts and creating mayhem.

Farzana Versey is a Mumbai-based writer-columnist. She can be reached at http://farzana-versey.blogspot.com/



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