Hindutva’s attempt to polarize ‘God’s Own Country’

The whole propaganda unleashed by the BJP is reflective of the pattern of their politics

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Ram Puniyani

Earlier this year, BJP President Amit Shah had launched ‘Jan Suraksha Yatra’, a two-week program to highlight the death of RSS workers in Kerala. Many BJP dignitaries (twelve Union Ministers and five Chief ministers) participated in this. The one who made big news was Yogi Adityanath. The slogan of Amit Shah was that the CPM had been indulging in political violence, which led to the death of RSS workers in Kannur- Kerala. He wanted to draw the attention of people to Jihadi-red terror in Kerala. Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of UP, was offering advice to Kerala about health care and administration. This did reflect his audacity as we have recently seen the death of number of children in Gorakhpur hospital due to lack of oxygen The chief minister of such a state offering advice to Kerala is among many ludicrous acts of Yogi, as Kerala tops in the welfare indices in the whole country.

The whole propaganda unleashed by the BJP is reflective of the pattern of their politics. The statistics shows that during last seventeen years, the number of political deaths in Kerala are as follows: those dying from CPM-85, RSS-65, Muslim League and Congress-11 each. Kannur has seen the worst of rivalry between the CPM and RSS, in which on frequent intervals the political workers have been killed from both the sections. Shah’s attempt to show that it is RSS workers alone who are being killed is fake breast beating. He knows well that CPM workers have also been killed. RSS cabal as such has built itself up around identity issues which have led to massive killings. Leave apart the earlier issues raised by the RSS-BJP, the latest such have been Ram Temple and Holy Cow. Both these issues have led to violence and killings. The RSS combine has been deflecting the blame on the victims in a clever manner. It delves on selective presentation of facts, raising of emotions and consequent violence.

In MP, it tried to consolidate it’s position by raising the issue of Kamaal Maula Masjid (Bhoj Shala). In Karnataka, it raised the issue of Baba Budan Giri, calling it Datta Peetham. Capitalisation of issues around identity is the speciality of the RSS combine. Can their ploy succeed in Kerala? Kerala is one place where the representation of different religious communities is matching. The first Christian community begins on the Malabar Coast, with the coming of St Thomas in AD 52, establishment of a series of churches and the beginning of Christian community. The Arab traders had been coming for trade all through, and from seventh century onwards, Islam started to arrive. The first mosque, Cheraman Jumma, also came up in Kerala. While Amit Shah thrives on dividing the communities along religious lines, Kerala has been the place of inter-community harmony for ages.

Also, Kerala is a place where social reform has been at the forefront. It’s here that great social reformer Narayan Guru preached for casteless society, equal respect for all by establishing temples where people from all castes were welcome. He also organized the first Parliament of religions, breaking the religious divides to build one humanity. The Communist Government of Namboodripad brought in land reforms, rare in other parts of the country, aimed at bringing in economic succour for the landless peasants. This is what led the foundation for other changes, making Kerala the number one state in social development indices.

The attempt to communalise Kerala has been very intense on the part of BJP-RSS, it has been raising the issue of love Jihad on a regular basis. Many investigations by police authorities have concluded that there is no organized attempt to woo over Hindu-Christian girls to convert them to Islam. It is an occasional case of inter-religious marriage. It is the harmony and bonding of inter-community relations to which Amit Shah tribe is opposed, leading to harassment of girls and torture of boys, who happen to choose their life partners on their free will.

Amit Shah has not only been sowing the divisive seeds through his efforts, he has also been highlighting the Brahmanical nature of his politics. On Pongal, the biggest festival of Kerala, he brought out posters celebrating Waman, calling the festival as Waman Jayanti. The legend is that King Mahabali was killed through deceit by Waman, the Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Pongal as such is regarded as King Mahabali visiting his subject one’s in a year. The legend goes that the king belonged to low caste, and treated all the castes with same respect.

While the BJP has been going strong in different parts of the country by its tactics of promoting sectarianism and subtle Brahmanism, it is unlikely that Kerala, the very enlightened state, with better social welfare and amity, will fall prey to Shah’s tactics. He has been labelling the violence as Red-Jihadi violence, by calling it so he wants to kill two birds in a single stone. Kerala has a large Muslim population; Jihadi word is to demonize them. It is likely that this time around these tactics will boomerang on the saffron party as Kerala is the bastion of social reform and political awareness. While RSS has been coming up here from last many decades, its political child BJP has not been able to make any headway barring one seat in Assembly.

One knows that there is a rise in the electoral votes lately, can that trend grow is a matter of conjecture and depends on how CPM and other parties respond to these attempts by BJP and company.

It is heartening to know that Left parties have kicked off yatras, Jan Jagrata Yatra (People’s awareness), to promote the democratic values. Also, it seems Congress (UDF) is also planning Yatras. Time for these elements to wake up to the fact, that they need to coordinate their efforts to save communal amity, their coordination on this will help the matters to a great deal.

(The author is a writer, activist and his book Communalism: India's struggle for Democracy and Pluralism will be published soon).

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Published: 25 Oct 2017, 4:53 PM