RSS Sets BJP’s 2019 Agenda

In his Dussehra speech, RSS Chief Mo­han Bhag­wat made it clear to the Naren­dra Modi govern­ment to start build the Ram tem­ple in Ayodhya even by en­act­ing an or­di­nance

The Day After - - CONTENT - By AMu­lyA GAnGuly

There was never any doubt about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) anti-mi­nor­ity elec­toral gam­bits but the agenda has now been un­am­bigu­ously and force­fully ar­tic­u­lated by the party’s friend, philoso­pher and guide, the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS).

De­liv­er­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s cus­tom­ary mes­sage on the oc­ca­sion of Dussehra/ Vi­jay Dashami, its chief, Mo­han Bhag­wat, has left no stone un­turned about what the Naren­dra Modi govern­ment should im­me­di­ately do — which is to start build­ing the Ram tem­ple in Ayodhya even by en­act­ing an or­di­nance.

By point­edly ig­nor­ing the fact that the is­sue is cur­rently be­fore the Supreme Court, the RSS chief has taken the party and the Hin­dutva broth­er­hood to the days of the Ram­jan­mab­hoomi move­ment in the 1990s when the saf­fron storm-troop­ers used to say that the courts can have no say in a mat­ter of faith.

Apart from a re­it­er­a­tion of this ag­gres­sive “re­li­gious” stance, Bhag­wat’s di­rec­tive to the BJP to get down to busi­ness and not dilly-dally any longer on build­ing the tem­ple has scrapped Atal Be­hari Va­j­payee’s de­ci­sion in 1996 to put in cold stor­age the three “core” is­sues of the Sangh pari­var -- build­ing the tem­ple, do­ing away with Ar­ti­cle 370 of the Con­sti­tu­tion con­fer­ring spe­cial sta­tus on Jammu and Kash­mir, and in­tro­duc­ing a uni­form civil code.

That the nega­tion of Va­j­payee’s wishes has been done in the year of his death is not with­out sig­nif­i­cance. It re­mains to be seen whether the RSS will give any “ad­vice” to the govern­ment on the two other is­sues -- Ar­ti­cle 370 and the uni­form civil code.

But why the sud­den hurry about con­struct­ing the tem­ple? There may be two rea­sons. One is that it is the last throw of the dice by the party and the pari­var in an elec­tion sea­son to con­sol­i­date its vote bank of com­mu­nal-minded Hin­dus at a time when the less than favourable

eco­nomic scene may make sec­tions of the lib­eral Hin­dus, who voted for the BJP in 2014, drift away.

The other is the re­al­i­sa­tion in the saf­fron broth­er­hood that it is now or never where the tem­ple is con­cerned since the BJP is un­likely to get a ma­jor­ity on its own in the Lok Sabha in 2019. The Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance (NDA) led by it may get it, but it will not be easy for the BJP to per­suade some of its al­lies such as the Janata Dal (United) -- which has op­posed the BJP’s favourite triple ta­laq or­di­nance -and the Akali Dal to en­dorse a con­struc­tion pro­gramme which can­not but alien­ate the mi­nori­ties.

Not­with­stand­ing BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah’s con­vic­tion that the party will reign for half a cen­tury, there may be an aware­ness in the or­gan­i­sa­tion that the 2014 out­come was the re­sult of sev­eral un­fore­seen events -- the Congress’s sud­den and some­what in­ex­pli­ca­ble col­lapse and Modi’s emer­gence (against the wishes of sev­eral in his party) as some kind of a mes­siah. From this stand­point, 2019 will not be the same as 2014.

Ever since the party and the pari­var sensed that the mantras of nei­ther “achhe din” (good days) nor “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (de­vel­op­ment for all) is evok­ing a favourable re­sponse, the fo­cus of the saf­fron pro­pa­ganda has been on Hin­duMus­lim po­lar­i­sa­tion.

Whether it is ex­tend­ing the scope of the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of Cit­i­zens (NRC) from As­sam to other states or the re­moval of long-es­tab­lished Mus­lim names in Ut­tar Pradesh like Mughal­sarai and Al­la­habad, the BJP’s aim has been to send the mes­sage that Mus­lims will be un­der pres­sure to prove the gen­ui­ness of their cit­i­zen­ship and that In­dia’s multi-cul­tural past will be erased as Hindu rash­tra takes root.

Along with the di­rect and in­di­rect of­fen­sive against Mus­lims, the pari­var is also in­tent on con­firm­ing its Hindu cre­den­tials by op­pos­ing the Supreme Court’s ver­dict al­low­ing women of all ages to en­ter the Sabarimala tem­ple in Ker­ala on the grounds it vi­o­lates cen­turies-old be­liefs.

The Sabarimala episode en­ables the RSS and the BJP to try and kill two birds with one stone. One is to project them­selves as the stan­dard-bear­ers of Hin­duism, and the other is to flaunt a de­fi­ance of the Supreme Court.

The court has aroused the saf­fron lobby’s ire ever since it de­liv­ered a se­ries of “pro­gres­sive” judg­ments (of which Sabarimala is one) such as the one up­hold­ing the rights of pri­vacy, which the govern­ment ar­gued was an elit­ist con­cept, and the other was to de­crim­i­nalise ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in a case from which the govern­ment re­cused it­self ev­i­dently be­cause while the le­gal­i­sa­tion went against the BJP’s crusty or­tho­doxy, the party could not af­ford to be seen as liv­ing in Vic­to­rian times.

Sabarimala has given an op­por­tu­nity to the RSS and the BJP to defy the apex court and sug­gest that it is not right all the time. The de­fi­ance may have also been mo­ti­vated by the #MeToo move­ment which has claimed the scalp of a Union min­is­ter and per­suaded an­other min­is­ter to say that those who sup­port the move­ment are “per­verted”.

Among the oth­ers who also an­swer to the de­scrip­tion of be­ing per­verted are the so-called “Ur­ban Nax­alites”, a new form of abuse coined by the RSS and the BJP for the Left-Lib­er­als who have al­ways been called anti-na­tion­als. Not sur­pris­ingly, an­other of the RSS chief’s ad­vice to the govern­ment was to keep the “Ur­ban Nax­alites” un­der surveillance.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to know what those “sec­u­lar­ists” who in­ter­acted with the RSS re­cently like for­mer Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee and the busi­ness ty­coon, Ratan Tata, think of the pitch for the tem­ple and the cas­ti­ga­tion of “Ur­ban Nax­alites”.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with BJP Pres­i­dent Amit Shah

An­tar­rash­tria Hindu Par­ishad Pres­i­dent Pravin To­ga­dia ad­dresses a rally in Ayodhya

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