Narendra Modi avoided talking of Hindutva in Baghpat. That doesn’t mean, in the least, that he has risen above the narrow ideology of Hindu fundamentalism.
Narendra Modi is by far the cleverest campaigner and arguably the most cunning narcissist. This assessment of the man is not necessarily based on bias, but minute and elaborate observation of his style and substance.
He has avoided talking of Hindutva in Baghpat and in some other rallies. But that does not mean, in the least, that he has risen above the narrow ideology of Hindu fundamentalism. The strident Hindutva, vicious and violent, was the core of his speeches in 2002 and 2007 Gujarat election campaigns, and he brought it upfront even in last year’s Gujarat election rallies.
“Hum Paanch, Hamara Pachees” was a direct communal attack on the Muslims, implying that Muslims have large families. Mentioning then election commissioner Lyngdoh by highlighting his Christian name and linking it with Sonia Gandhi’s religion in 2002 was not only communal but also cheap.
The Muslim-Pakistan narrative
In the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, his bringing in the issue of “shamshan” and Muslim burial ground, and his constant and ad nauseam rhetoric on Muslims being close to Pakistan, directly or suggestively are just a few other instances.
He has successfully polarised Hindu-Muslim divide, by often suggestively saying that Muslims in India actually belong to Pakistan. He has let this campaign go even against Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan.
Once having established himself as the militant voice of Hindutva and Hindustan, from 2002 onwards, it is not necessary to reveal his fundamentalist identity each time.
To appease the right wing, neo-liberal economist lobby, he can talk of reforms, development, progress, and so on. But his eloquent silence when mayhem and murder was taking place in the name of beef, cow slaughter, ‘love-jihad’ and such other issues underlines his essential ideological character.
So, let us not fool ourselves by his clever rhetoric on development. Interestingly, he has not carried out any reforms, structural or otherwise. He has not “privatised” any of the “navratna” public sector corporations. In 2013, Modi, then Gujarat chief minister, slammed the union government for the falling value of rupee. Today, the dollar is trading at a high of nearly Rs 70. I don’t want to mention the international crude prices and market prices of petroleum products.
Living in a fool’s paradise
This rejoinder is not about his promises and utter failure in achieving them. It is pointed at those who are fooled by his superficial arguments of development, especially when there is nothing to show in Varanasi or Mumbai, Patna or Bhopal.
By saying that he did not raise the topic of Hindutva in some rallies, nothing is really proved, except the fact that even among the educated, urban or Rurban middle class and their NRI counterparts, there are gullible individuals who refuse to see the dangerously divided reality.
I hardly need to refer to the article published yesterday by the most respected and celebrated retired police officer, Julio Ribeiro, who has deeply lamented about India becoming a “Saffron Pakistan”. He names Modi and Amit Shah specifically for this emerging threat. Nobody can question secular and courageous credentials of Ribeiro, who fought the Sikh, Khalistani fundamentalism in Punjab, when extremism in the state was at its peak.
Of course, those who prefer to live in the psycho-political world of illusion cannot be awakened to the surrounding reality. If, however, this reality explodes, then it would be too late for them to realise their folly.
Kumar Ketkar is a former editor and Congress member of Rajya Sabha.