RSS insider who had an early glimpse of Hindu Rashtra’s ugly face
Rape of a woman by temple priest in a state ruled by a priest is a reminder of what an RSS insider had said, “Yeh log doodh ki dukaan se daru bechte hain…yeh mandir me bhi aapki jeb kaat sakte hain<b>” </b>
Just before the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, the RSS began planning to translate the Koran into Sanskrit. The husband of a BJP worker from Himachal Pradesh was a professor at a university and he apparently did a wonderful job of transcribing the holy text. But a RSS old-timer and one of my contacts was greatly upset and disappointed.
“If we have to appease Muslims by translating the Koran into Sanskrit, then what is the difference between us and the Congress,” he had grumbled.
Some months later, he returned to me in greater distress. He narrated the sensational story of how a BJP MP and a BJP MLA had come to blows at a supposedly “Sneha Bhojan" (a friendship meal). The MP, who will remain unnamed, continues to be prominent in the party. “Shoes came off,” my source said, “clothes were torn…”. He was now really upset that the champions of shuchita, samrasta and sabhyata, as the BJP claimed itself to be, were proving worse than the then ruling party, he said.
Over the years, inside information from him thinned out. When I ran into him some years later and enquired, he explained he had distanced himself from the organisation – yeh log doodh ki dukan se daru bechte hain, he said in a very evocative statement that has stayed with me.
“Yeh log mandir mein bhi aap ki jeb kaat sakte hain. Bazaar mein koi aapki jeb kaat le toh aap ki hi galti. Par mandir mein bhi wahi hua, toh aap kya kahenge?” (They will not hesitate picking your pocket even in a temple).
From his conversations it was clear that he was not looking forward to this kind of a Hindu Rashtra and many years later I realised he was prescient in anticipating a Hindu Rashtra with so much apprehension.
The brutal rape and subsequent murder of a 50-year-old woman in a temple in Badayun in Uttar Pradesh, by a priest in a state ruled by a priest, brought to mind my source's anguish with the way their ideal Hindu Rashtra was shaping up.
Today it is a nation where a comedian is arrested for cracking no jokes, a shoe-seller is arrested for making no shoes, solely because both are Muslim; social activists have to rot in jail for caring for the poor and the oppressed, young adults walking back from a birthday party are harassed by cops and others just because one of them is Muslim and the other a Dalit.
Someone is killed for eating meat, another for buying a cow for his dairy farm, a third has cases slapped against him continuously for attempting to save children in a hospital ... So many years after my RSS source's disillusionment with a potential Hindu Rashtra, I find the face of such a nation so ugly that it is worse than selling liquor from a milk booth or picking someone's pocket in a temple rather than a bazaar. It has moved far beyond that.
The tragedy turns unto comedy when the government decides to hold a national exam on the cow and the comedy turns into farce when the government puts out study material saying the milk of the Indian cow is yellow because it has traces of gold, quite ignoring the fact that the yellow pigmentation comes from the beta carotene, an anti-oxidant, in the grass the cow eats. Which is what helps build our immunity and that is why cow's milk is so much coveted for children and adults and not traces of gold that would only get stuck in our kidneys and end up in dialysis – I can almost picture some foolish bhakts trying to distil that gold from milk and never drink a drop of milk all their lives. They should then try to distil that gold from Jersey cows whose milk too is yellow and who can give ten times the weight in milk per lactation – perhaps she might yield more gold than the desi cow?
Quite apart from the stupidities of the bigots and lack of a scientific temper, the Hindu Rashtra is a nation without heroes or precedents to follow. That is why they must appropriate the icons of the Congress and place Mahatma Gandhi on the same pedestal as his assassin Nathuram Godse.
But here is a question I had first asked LK Advani when at a press conference soon after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, he had said he was not worried about the communal image of the BJP because even Gandhiji was described on his death by British newspapers as a great Hindu leader and today everyone swore by his nationalism.
“So does the RSS believe in assassinating its own leaders?” I asked a furious Advani. “If you think Gandhiji was a great Hindu leader, do you believe Godse was not Hindu enough that he shot Gandhiji?”
Advani's reply? “Which paper do you work for? I will speak to your editor!”
That is a threat that was repeated to me over and over again by various sundry members of the BJP as I consistently refused to buy into their theory of a Hindu Rashtra. And I am glad I did not do that. For today, at least one temple has become the hotbed of crime that my source feared all along, not just the temple but the very Hindu Rashtra has picked our pockets clean and both milk and liquor have the same worth in the estimation of these propagandists.
Give me the India of Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar any day.