Who can trust Rajnath Singh in a Govt that speaks in many voices?

As the BJP and the RSS play ‘good cop-bad cop’ and blow hot and cold,offering dialogue on one hand and shrieking murder on the other, who possibly can trust the alleged moderate voices?

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh ( Photo Courtesy: PTI)
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh ( Photo Courtesy: PTI)

Ranjona Banerji

Union Defence minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh said at a Delhi election rally that India is not a Hindu nation but a secular state. Then he spoke of “foreign forces” trying to “weaken” India about the Citizenship Amendment Act, while trying to assure Muslims that they will not lose citizenship because of CAA.

At the same time, Union textile minister Smriti Irani commented that the parties that “backed” the protests at Shaheen Bagh, organised by Muslim women in Delhi, wanted to “divide” the nation.

And on January 30, the day in 1948 that Hindutva-inspired former RSS member Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, a young man from Uttar Pradesh who called himself “Rambhakt” shot at protesting students at Jamia Milia University and injured one, all the while shouting Hindutva and pro-CAA slogans. The Delhi Police looked on.

Union Home minister Amit Shah has consistently referred to “illegal” migrants from Bangladesh as “termites” and intruders. If it needs reiteration, the CAA allows easy citizenship into India for people based on their religion from our neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. All religions except Islam. At its core, then the CAA goes against the secular nature of India’s Constitution and discriminates against Muslims.

And let us not forget the slogan “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli marron salon ko” (non-idiomatic translation: shoot all traitors) used widely by BJP leaders and supporters including Union minister Anurag Thakur. This is the sort of hate-filled rhetoric that is fed non-stop to Indians by the BJP, the RSS and all its affiliates and associates. That is how someone like ‘Rambhakt’ Sharma gets indoctrinated. Young children carrying RSS paraphernalia have been walking down the streets of India shouting death to all traitors ever since the anti-CAA protests began.

One can only assume that Rajnath Singh and occasionally Prime Minister Narendra Modi are trotted out by the RSS to play “good cop” to the general BJP reality of hatred and division.

Modi is of course mercurial. Sometimes he wants to talk to the Opposition but mainly he leads the toxic communal charge. Give the great orator a microphone and listen to the hatred spew out. There is one Modi created by the publicity machine – the radio chats, the foreign visits, the talks to students, the writer of books on how to pass exams. And there is the real Modi: the one you see at election time who talks of cemeteries being given more space than crematoriums and anything else he can say to “other” Muslims.

At the bottom of everything, the hatred against Muslims lies at the heart of the BJP. Why did Godse kill an old man on his way to an evening prayer? Because Godse resented Mahatma Gandhi’s insistence that India pay money due to Pakistan in the Partition settlement. And larger than that, the hatred for Muslims created and nurtured in their followers by the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS and the notion that India must be a Hindu nation.

The exact opposite if you like of the lie told by Rajnath Singh, the clear purpose of which was to deflect criticism and lull both Muslims and non-BJP supporters into a sense of false security.

Nothing of this is new. The BJP is what it is. As it has grown in strength, especially at the national level, it has given a louder voice to its communal, sectarian agenda. It was not much different under AB Vajpayee’s prime ministership, except that the BJP was held back by its coalition partners. Electoral majority has done away with the need for prudence. Let us not forget that it was LK Advani who started open polarisation with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. And it was under Vajpayee’s prime ministership and Modi’s chief ministership that the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal orchestrated the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Over the last six years, the anti-Muslim, Dalit, Christian, liberal, statements by BJP state leaders have been vicious. Lynching has been replaced by destruction of the Constitution. The abrogation of Article 370 and the attempt to suppress and oppress Kashmir has taken the BJP to a new level of power.

It is only because the people of India have risen, that Muslims have found a voice, that the protests have grown and not ended, in spite of all government efforts that these varied voices from within are being heard.

Trust them at our peril.

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