Sinners In Disguise
By Jyotirmaya Sharma
There are hidden facets to the sorry episode of the Babri Masjid that also implicate others
THE LIBERHAN Report can be excused for its longwinded vacuity as also the time it took to see the light of day. But the more hilarious aspect of the aftermath of the tabling of the report is the manner in which politicians of various persuasions have reacted to it. All of them have come up with their own version of the truth. In Indian politics, truth never prevails, but all that prevails is true.
In a mature democracy, it would have been the norm for the BJP to accept that they participated in a criminal act that vitiated public life and divided people.
Equally so, the Congress ought to have apologised to the country for P. V. Narasimha Rao’s inept handling of the entire situation.
Mulayam Singh ought to have kept silent in Parliament, if only because he was, until recently, extolling the virtues of a certain Kalyan Singh. The Left too ought to have toned down its self- righteous bluster, especially after their cosy understanding with the BJP recently in trying to bring down the UPA government over the issue of the nuclear deal. “ In the congregation of the righteous”, said a poet, “ the sinners are well- disguised: do not seek to count them”.
For the BJP and certain of its leaders, the Liberhan report seems like a godgiven opportunity to revive its ever- dwindling fortunes. Just as their conception of Hindutva is stuck in an imaginary past, so are their political calculations. They hope to revive the irrational mobilisation of the rath yatra and karseva movements, if only to rectify their rockbottom status in the arena of Uttar Pradesh politics.
Even if their hope of a revival on the lines of the Ayodhya movement clashes with pictures of Narendra Modi in denims, they would love to live under the fatal illusion that they have the moral and intellectual wherewithal to merge and resolve all such contradictions.
The spectacle of Rajnath Singh thundering about the existence of a Ram Temple in the past and the assurance of a temple in the future weeks before he is to be given the marching orders by the RSS in favour of a man whose sole claim to fame is building flyovers is all too delicious for the ordinary spectator. After all, flyovers for the BJP are the new temples of their conception of modern India.
In all this, the RSS presents a picture that is a strange mixture of bravado, innocence and lack of contrition. They have been consistent in stating that they have no regrets about the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
But they are equally consistent in saying that a spontaneous surge of karsevaks resulted in the felling of what has been known as the disputed structure. This theory of spontaneity and popular sentiment has served the RSS and the Sangh Parivar well over the years in their systematic attempts at subverting democracy, the rule of law and the Indian Constitution.
One just has to remember the rhetoric at all levels within the Sangh Parivar in justifying the post- Godhra riots and the systematic killing of Muslims to know that this is a familiar tool in their kit of medieval barbarity. The only consolation that the Sangh Parivar has is that even the Congress borrowed the same set of rhetorical devices in order to justify the massacre of innocent Sikhs in 1984 and continues to condone similar acts by not acting on the findings of the Srikrishna Report concerning the 1992- 93 riots in Bombay.
Is there, then, a difference between the Sangh Parivar and the Congress? The difference is a small, but significant one. The Congress condones similar acts of violence for political expediency and does so with cynical impunity. The Sangh Parivar indulges in acts of organised violence in the name of God, Hinduism, cultural pride and with the express purpose of destroying a plurality of the ideas of India.
In keeping the mandirmasjid issue alive, the RSS also has a different agenda. It hopes to alienate Muslims to an extent by which it becomes untenable for them to exist as first- class citizens in India, and, thereby, foist its limited, shortsighted and dangerous idea of a Hindu nation.
A few examples would suffice. The former RSS sarsanghchalak , K. P Sudarshan, wrote a pamphlet published in 2000 called ‘ Sangh ki saphalta ka rahasya’ ( The Secret of the Sangh’s Success). He writes that when Indira Gandhi visited Afghanistan and wanted to lay a wreath at the tombstone of Babur, the Afghans had to clean the place overnight. The tombstone was in a state of acute disrepair. Sudarshan cites an official in the Prime Minister’s party asking the caretaker of the cemetery about Babur’s tomb and its sorry state.
The caretaker is supposed to have replied that they did not care because Babur was no Afghan.
Sudarshan goes on to say that it is unfortunate that many Indian Muslims still connect themselves to Babur. He goes on to explain how the structure that was demolished was on purpose designated as Babri Mosque, and they created futile anger in the country upon its demolition.
Sudarshan’s amnesia makes him forget that if his story of the Afghan caretaker of the cemetery is a desirable one, then the Sangh ought not to have screamed and shouted as much as it did when the Bamiyan Buddhas were blown away by dynamite sticks. After all, the Buddha was no Afghan either! But Sudarshan’s perverse creativity in rewriting history reaches hitherto unscaled heights when he dismisses the historical veracity of a structure that is a few hundred years old, but argues that the existence of a Ram Temple at the very spot was historically true and incontrovertible.
But there is one other gem in Sudarshan’s pamphlet.
He quotes a fax sent to Narasimha Rao on 10 December 1992 by a senior leader from Maharashtra.
Sudarshan says that this leader advised Rao not to ban the RSS in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri mosque because Balasaheb Deoras was a friend of the Congress government.
Deoras wanted the government to survive for five years and was not in favour of frequently bringing governments down.
This unnamed Maharashtra leader warns Rao that if the Sangh was banned, a section of the Sangh sympathetic to Rao’s government would turn hostile.
Despite this advice, the Sangh was banned. It would do us all a lot of good if Sudarshan could release the copy of that fax to the Indian people now and expose this senior Maharashtra leader.
But nothing of this sort is likely to happen. The irony is that all those associated with this act of mob violence and vandalism will go scot- free. In the case of L. K. Advani, like the proverbial cat with nine lives, he will probably see a revival in his political fortunes and his political ambitions. In the meantime, the RSS will go on with its business of sullying Indian public life in a manner only it can and has perfected over the years. History, perhaps, will forgive those karsevaks, but it will scarcely condone the likes of Advani for being complicit in the RSS’s agenda of the diminution of what India is all about.
Source: Mail Today, New Delhi
The writer teaches politics in University of Hyderabad