The BJP has always been sleeping with its enemy

Three incidents last week speak to the growing toxicity in Indian society that the party seems to foment

Jan Sangh founder S.P. Mookerjee (left) was was a minister in the Bengal provincial government of A.K. Fazlul Haq in the late 1930s
Jan Sangh founder S.P. Mookerjee (left) was was a minister in the Bengal provincial government of A.K. Fazlul Haq in the late 1930s

Sujata Anandan

Three incidents last week where the BJP's bigotry was immediately apparent and have renewed the concern among democratic liberals about the growing need for an immediate course correction—or else India might be doomed forever to this growing toxicity.

The first of these, of course, was with regard to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. At the National Press Club in Washington DC, in reply to a question about how his party justified an alliance with the Indian Union Muslim League, Gandhi said that the IUML was a secular party.

Of course, the BJP IT cell pounced upon that, but in doing so, they forgot their own history. A history that is replete with instances that show Hindutva ideologues will do anything for power—even sleep with their so-called enemy. 

Take the example of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of the Jan Sangh, which is the precursor to the Bharatiya Janata Party. I personally hold him responsible for the partition of India—if he had not demanded a Bengali Hindu homeland and declared that Hindus and Muslims could not coexist, I am convinced that India would not have been partitioned.

For it was Mookerjee as the Hindu Mahasabha president, of which V.D. Savarkar was also a member, that first propagated the two-nation theory. It was formalised by Savarkar in 1937 and taken forward by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1942. Until then Jinnah was only seeking separate electorates for Muslims within India and, in his gullibility, he caused a lot of harm to Muslims in India.

Without Partition, India would have always had, for reasons of sheer demographics alone, five Muslim chief ministers—in Punjab, Sindh, the North-West Frontier Province, Bengal and, of course, Jammu and Kashmir. 

But it was the fact that Bengal was a Muslim-majority region and would always have a Muslim chief minister that led Mookerjee—who, hypocritically, was a minister in the provincial government of A.K. Fazlul Haq—to demand a Bengali Hindu Homeland, presumably to pave the way for his own ambition to eventually become Bengal’s chief minister.

That personal ambition changed the course of India, just as — not surprisingly — half a century later did the ambition of another Jan Sangh leader, Lal Krishna Advani, to become prime minister of India.

It is not an unknown fact that it was this personal ambition of Advani’s that drove the BJP towards the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

Even so, there was no end to the hypocrisy of the Hindutva ideologues. Realising that his hardcore Hindutva image was keeping him from securing the office of prime minister, Advani had the audacity to declare Jinnah as one of the most secular leaders of India while at his memorial in Pakistan.

He clearly believed that that would get him minority support in India, when it is a fact that Indian Muslims do not really care for Jinnah, as they blame him for all their security issues today.

Like Mookerjee, Advani too wanted power even if it meant rubbing shoulders with those very Muslims his party had demonised. I personally bIame him for the highly charged communal atmosphere in India today— without his attempts to polarise India, Narendra Modi would never have gained the office that Advani so desired for himself.

But if all this is water under the bridge, what about the BJP of today that has allied itself with the Indian Union Muslim League—that very IUML over which they are now lamming into Rahul Gandhi—in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation?

It is not just rank hypocrisy but outright duplicity that is demonstrated by the fact that while the BJP contested the civic polls in Nagpur in alliance with the Shiv Sena — which at the time was also an outright Hindutvawadi party (it changed course only in 2019) — the BJP also tied up with the IUML, purely to keep the Shiv Sena out of power!

The BJP fell short of a majority by a few seats and the Sena could easily have made up the deficit. But the BJP was always planning to dump the Sena to gain power on its own in Maharashtra, and this was their first step towards that — they had hardly any qualms about tying up with a so-called 'communal party' then, in order to keep another Hindu party out of the running!

But their bigotry has gone so deep that when a trunk with the dismembered body of a girl called Anjali Singh was discovered in Mumbai on Friday, 2 June, all the usual suspects were quick to blame the murder on their pet paranoia of a 'love jihad'. Soon, however, the Mumbai police arrested her husband, a Minty Singh, who confessed he had killed her after suspecting she was promiscuous.

Now, tweeting about this was the vice-president of the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple in Calcutta who bemoaned that "they" were killing "our sisters and daughters". He did not even wait for the police investigation to conclude and had no problem bIaming a whole community for more than just one specific murder without ascertaining the facts.

But here is a twist from the third incident this week — the same ISKCON official forwarded a tweet by a handle that made no bones about its ideological orientation (being called 'Saffron Swamy') which furthered the bigoted theories that the triple train pile-up in Orissa had been caused by 'terrorists' rather than being an instance of gross mismanagement. As evidence, the handle shared an image, pointing out a mosque in the vicinity of the railway tracks, thus implying that the terrorists were Muslim.

Turns out that the mosque is actually a temple. But not just any temple. It belongs to the International Society of Krishna Consciousness and its own vice-president mistook it for a mosque or did not know it existed where it existed! One could laugh, if it were not so tragic!

Mookerjee's hypocrisy partitioned India, but we then had great leaders who brought the nation back to an even keel. Advani's ambition set in motion the destruction of India's communal fabric, but even then there were leaders who prevented the nation from going over the edge.

I despair today for the future of my country under a leadership that is not only self-serving and full of rank hypocrisy, but is clearly constituted of mere political quacks and charlatans with neither the talent nor the intelligence or even the will to pull back India from the precipice. 

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