How wily Hindutva uses woolly liberals to its advantage

If any Indian Muslim protests too loudly or gets a little violent, then he has broken the pact with liberals. The same rules, however, do not apply to Hindus or to RSS-BJP right-wing

Police action against Muslim protesters in Ranchi on June 10
Police action against Muslim protesters in Ranchi on June 10

Ranjona Banerji

The woolly liberal is out in full form. It is a creature seen weakly waffling about as violence and human rights abuses against minorities increase in strength and confidence. It moans and puffs about how this is not correct, India is changing, and this was not how it was, and not what do we do.

But it really comes into full force when said minorities go on protest marches or, be still my beating heart, throw stones or burn buses. Then the woolly liberal stands up tall and strong and becomes a burning brand of righteousness: protests are democratic, violence is not! If you condemned X, you must condemn Y!

Muslims in India must be neither seen nor heard. They must put their heads down and carry on with their work. Which should be moral and ethical in all its aspects and in its nature. They have to defend them an army of woolly liberals, who in their own weak manner will sometimes meekly object when any Muslim is murdered, tortured, abused or discriminated against.

Sorry Dalits. You have to stand in line here, because high caste liberals have other concerns with the existence of Dalits which they have still not fully worked out amongst themselves.

If any Indian Muslim protests too loudly or gets a little violent, then this Muslim has broken the pact with liberals and the Muslim is schooled in good behaviour. And it is pointed out to them that their intrinsic nature is violent. And various historical references are made as well as recent terrorist incidents are brought up.

How wily Hindutva uses woolly liberals to its advantage

I may point out that the same rules do not apply to Hindus or to the RSS-BJP right-wing. They have full rights to do what they like. Hindus are not apparently intrinsically violent although the Hindu right wing constantly searches for historical references to Hindu warrior kings and their violent exploits.

To my limited knowledge, Hinduism’s two great epics, certainly on par with if not greater than any epic in the world, centre around wars. Issues of duty, birth rights, family, intrigue, betrayal and violence itself are all covered. That is, if you actually read them and do not rely wholly on comics and teleserials.

Anyway, even the police in India do not really see violence by the Hindutva right wing against Muslims and Dalits as actual violence and no historical references are made and no terrorist analogies are allowed.

The current situation in India – what used to be called a tinder box in the days when tinder boxes existed – is of a society on the edge and it is a total creation of Hindutva forces and its political wings.

The anger expressed by a few nations in the Middle East and West Asia against abuse of Islam’s prophet by a former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma on TV has eventually played out in favour of the Hindutva right wing.

This is because the Hindutva right wing is far cleverer than the intelligent, caring sheep of the liberal sort who bleat the loudest.

Sharma has been suspended from the party by the BJP. How does the angry Hindutva follower make up for this loss of face, caused by Islamic nations? It shifts focus away from its own anger at the Modi government for giving in and letting them down, to attacking Muslims. And it knows it will get support from the intellectual heft of our liberal sheep.

Across India for years now, when political parties or the people are angry with some government action, they burn an effigy of someone or the other. These people are not booked for murder nor does every liberal hop about condemning them.

But when someone burns an effigy of Nupur Sharma? O no! End of civilisation as we know it! How can anyone do that? Peaceful protests are fine! But how can these Muslims do this? Remember how sweet AB Vajpayee of the RSS and BJP was? How he loved Muslims and ate biryani? O no, Muslims! How could you let us down like this?

I’ll tell you this about the Hindutva right wing. It knows what it wants. It is confident in its venal toxicity. You can only take it on head on. You cannot give in or negotiate. It is inherently cowardly, hence the capitulation to these Islamic nations. But it is also inherently crafty. And that is why it has played our Indian liberals so brilliantly.

Why the liberals fall for it every time, I do not comprehend. But I know this. The “both sides” argument does not work in a concentration camp. And that is where we’re heading. Unless everyone speaks up.

(Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. Views are personal)


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