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Difference between Pragya Thakur and LK Advani is only in the shade of Hindutva

Even if PM Modi says Pragya Thakur’s Godse remarks are unpardonable, he doesn’t really mean it.

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Is Pragya Thakur the real face of the BJP?

The answer to this question lies in the stacked Russian dolls. Despite the changing faces in the BJP, the party’s DNA remains the same – unabashedly Hindutva.

And under Narendra Modi, we have seen the various shades of Hindutva coming together, and even competing with the other. In this one-upmanship, Pragya Singh Thakur too wants to establish her shade of Hindutva. And she knows that even if Prime Minister Modi says that her remarks on Nathuram Godse are unpardonable, he doesn’t really mean it. After all, his following comprises of all shades of the Right.

Tracing the roots 

Today, many ‘liberals’ seem to be sympathetic towards Lal Krishna Advani. They ask why he should have to suffer humiliation and insults in a Modi and Amit Shah-led BJP. Indeed, many believe that if not for Advani, Modi would not have been able to become the Prime Minister.

Also read: In 1964, calling Godse patriot led to uproar in Parliament. Now, Pragya Thakur gets approval

But those like me, who have covered the frenzy of the Ayodhya Rath Yatra in 1990, know that the difference between Pragya Thakur and L.K. Advani is only in the shade of Hindutva.

True, Advani did not say that Nathuram Godse was a ‘deshbhakt’ or a patriot, but his speeches during the Ayodhya movement were frighteningly strident. He has been charged with criminal conspiracy, along with other BJP leaders Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi, in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The outrageous remarks made by Pragya Thakur have not come all of a sudden. In fact, in the wake of Pragya’s remarks, some other BJP leaders too joined the chorus on Nathuram Godse.

When I was studying in primary school in Pune in the early fifties, one could sometimes hear open praise for Nathuram and his ‘brave act’ of killing Gandhi. But this conversation was restricted to the Brahmin community at that time – it had been just a few years since Gandhi was assassinated by Godse.

The hatred for Gandhi was part of the foundation syllabus of the Hindu Mahasabha. The Hindutva organisations did not have a mass base then, but they had a considerable following among the upper caste-middle class.

It is from this class that the political leadership of the Jana Sangh and later the BJP was groomed. Over the years, this upper caste-middle class group’s networks have spread in India and globally.

The middle class in India was rather silent on Pragya Thakur’s obscene comments. Even an otherwise alert NRI community did not feel outraged at her remarks. There were some voices of protest in the media, but many news channels, as well as newspapers, carried out ‘objective’ or ‘neutral’ debates in their bid to give space to all sides. This meant doing some whitewashing of Nathuram Godse in the public domain.

Also read: Godse, raised as a girl, saw Gandhi as an ‘effeminate’ Father who didn’t protect Mother India

Rise of the Hindutva

The RSS is not only an organisation. It is also a mindset, which transcends the boundaries of a party or the Sangh.

There is no dearth of private or public sector executives, IT professionals, teachers and professors, even members of the scientific community in hallowed institutes like IITs and IIMs who have sympathy for the new Hindutva agenda and, therefore, even for Nathuram Godse.

None of them are formally a part of the ‘Parivar’ or ever went to ‘shakhas’. But they harbour a similar dislike for Muslims, think that Hindu philosophy is the best in the world, and therefore Hindutva is the way forward for Indian politics. They have come to believe that India’s glory was destroyed by Mughal invaders and it continues to be eroded by the presence of Muslims in Indian (read Hindu) society.

Anyone who is perceived to be sympathetic to the Muslim community or even recognises the contribution of the Mughals to Indian music, architecture and cuisine is considered anti-Hindu. The perception of the Congress as a ‘party of Muslims’, one that pampers or appeases Muslims, is a result of this mindset. This prejudice has captured the minds of the urban middle classes and, hence, we have seen the rise of the Hindutva.

Upper caste-middle class in ‘70s 

This ideological transformation of the upper caste-middle class coincides with the rise of the Hindutva politics in the late eighties. Ironically, it is the same class, which propagated the ideas of liberalism, secularism, scientific temper, rationalism in the sixties and seventies.

Not only the socialist Left, but even the economic Right, who believed in and advocated free market, were not supporters of the Hindutva ideology. The most towering example is C. Rajagopalachari. He was a true Gandhian in philosophy, spirit and lifestyle, but was a firm believer in free market.

This upper caste-middle class kept the ritualistic practices to themselves, notwithstanding the grand celebrations of Durga Puja or Ganeshotsav or Jagannath Yatras. In those days, the Sabarimala issue would not have dominated political debates for weeks. There was religion, but not dominant Hindutva politics. Most intellectuals – Left, Right or Centre – never espoused religious extremism in politics.

Also read: There is a Gandhi and a Godse inside every Indian. We must make peace within us first

Mandir & Make in India

It was not until 1998 when the NDA government united the forces of the economic Right and the religious Right.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s liberal face was accompanied by deputy PM Advani’s strident Hindutva persona. Vajpayee represented the continuation of Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singh economic programmes and Advani the continuation of the Ram Mandir agenda. This was the ‘perfect integration’ of the economic Right with the religious Right. And this suited the neo-middle class, a product of Rajiv Gandhi government’s digitisation policies and the liberalisation in the nineties. This class was comfortable with the newfound Hindutva identity at home and abroad.

In 2019, if Narendra Modi indeed returns with full majority, as visualised by party president Amit Shah, expect Pragya Thakur to carry forward the ideological flag of the party.

The author is a former editor and Congress member of Rajya Sabha. Views are personal.

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  1. Stupid writers like you should be thrown outnin pakistan.
    Bloody anti hindu.
    If muslims demand the mosque its their right and if hindus ask for mandir then we are being unfair

  2. Post your photo with tears running on your face and we will understand your grief,why write your frustration and grief in so many lines.

  3. Congress allies and such paid puppets r real losers…they cant accept defeat..instead of abusing Modi if they wud done some genuine work they had some chance…they r the same students who dnt study whole year and then blame the examiner for failing them…we as a common man followed all these people and BJp people..i say that BJP has much upper hand not only in popularity but also ethics and morality…if congress and co continue same abusing and corruption attitude i dnt think they wil ever come to power..and ya majority of the people hate Gandhis …time for congress to kick out the loser and bring some capable clean leader

  4. Kumar has now got a new lease of life for next few years, as he will write article after article on Pragya. No one can accept violence even if you believe your cause is right. Hence, Nathuram can never be acceptable to anyone, however patriotic he could be. Hence, Kumar’s insinuating comments about BJP are all bogus. Gandhi is father of the nation and this is settled once for all, as so called rabidly right wing party has accepted him as such. Hence, no point in opening settled issues. One off outlier remark has been immediately rebuffed by PM himself and one should accept this. Otherwise there is no end to divisiveness on this issue and ultimately it is Congress which will pay for this indiscretion. Kumar should now worry about future of Congress rather than BJP, Modi, Shah and Pragya.

  5. 👍Nothing more to say. Journalists should be impartial but irony is that journalists like the author of this article search for cast and Creed in very aspect and news. If he feels the statement of Pragya Thakur is indeed wrong, commenting on the statement is ok, but adding caste to is totally wrong.

  6. Advani was sidelined for his remarks on Jinnah and also you want him to be active till he attains 100 years? It is not congress it is bjp. You all are loosers. Keep quite.

  7. I should say that Mr. Kumar Ketkar is a perverted journalst who lives in a fool’ paradise and tries to make everybody believe that anything contrary to his belief is a myth and doesn’t deserve existence. One can understand his affiliation to congress ideology which is has been time tested opportunism that drives him to argue that anything oppsoing that is religious fanatism. He refuses to observe the reality of Muslim fundamentalism that engulfed the world for centuries right from its birth which resulted in inhuman persecution of non believers worldwide for which this land called Bharath is no exception. Even in modern times, the senseless persecution of innocent hindus right from the days of partition of the country to the calculated persecution and driving away of the Kahmiri Pandits from Kashmir proves the hollowness of the so called secularism preached and professed by the congressmen, communists and more glaringly by people like so called intellectual minds like Mr. Ketkar. They will never understand this and deserve to be identified as termites of hindu society. No wonder one day they will have the fate of the same.

  8. Ketkar is a person with one-sided opinion. He only praised Congress. A true journalist should be non aligned but ketkar is not. Hence his comments have no weightsge

  9. Shri Kumar Ketkar has his views, Sadhvi Pragya has her’s. Some may agree with her, some with Ketkar. It is Kamala Hassan who raked up the issue. Blame him, not Sadhwi. Now, it is history, no point in creating turmoil on this point. Let people worship their heros with out condemning the freedom of each other, after all it is freedom of expression, why Ketkar feels bad?

  10. Kumar Ketkar has always had a biased opinion about BJP. He has to write all good about Congress. He forgets the history of creation of India for the sake of appeasement of Nehru and Jinha.
    As a journalist more balanced view is expected from the journalist of his seniority.

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