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‘Colonial construct’ of hills vs plains is cause of Manipur clashes, says Hindu Right press

ThePrint’s round-up of how pro-Hindutva media covered and commented on news and topical issues over the last couple of weeks.

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New Delhi: The “colonial construct” of dividing people on the lines of “hills versus plains” is the root cause of the current situation in Manipur, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) English mouthpiece Organiser said in its editorial last week, commenting on the clashes between Meiteis and Kukis in Manipur. 

At least 70 people were killed in the ethnic clashes between the majority Meiteis, who primarily inhabit the Imphal Valley region, and the Kukis, one of several tribes living in Manipur’s hills.  

It’s significant to note that Meiteis are predominantly Hindus, according to media reports, while Kukis are largely Christians. 

Among other topics covered by the Hindu Right press last week were former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest, the dispute over the Gyanvapi mosque, the Congress’s decisive 135-of-224 seat win in Karnataka assembly elections, and the Narendra Modi government’s controversial labour codes. 

ThePrint brings a roundup of all the news that set the Hindu Right writers buzzing.

Also Read: It doesn’t matter how Atiq Ahmed died, writes Hindu Right press

Manipur violence 

The Organiser editorial blamed British policies that divided people for the ongoing crisis in Manipur. 

“While isolating them from the rest of Bharat, the British gave a free hand to foreign missionaries to destroy the local cultures, exploit their resources and subsequently convert the people,” the editorial said. 

Such policies continued to be implemented even after the Kingdom of Manipur merged with India, said the editorial.

The state merged with India through the Manipur Merger Agreement of 1949.

“The result was that Nagas and Kukis, having linkages in the North Western province of present-day Myanmar and residing in Manipur hill areas, got the Scheduled Tribe status. At the same time, Meiteis, the original inhabitants of Manipur, still need to get the ST status despite their unique community traditions,” the editorial said.

In an opinion piece in Hindu Vishwathe Vishva Hindu Parishad’s fortnightly magazine — Milind Parande, the organisation’s national general secretary condemned Kuki “attacks” on Meiteis and their places of worship. 

Parande also listed some Meitei temples that have allegedly been burnt down or destroyed in the violence, and demanded that they be rebuilt.   

For context, the list, according to the VHP, includes four temples in Tengnoupal and Moreh districts, three in Tipaimukh (Churachandpur) and four in Imphal East. 

“During the unfortunate clashes between the two communities, many state properties have been destroyed. Now, the Hindu society needs to come forward to rebuild the damaged/destroyed temples. VHP appeals that peace and restraint must be exercised and the anti-national and anti-social elements must be controlled. Elements and organisations trying to disrupt peace in the region must be taken to task strictly,” Parande wrote in his piece. 

‘Anarchy’ in Pakistan

Commenting on former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest on 9 May, the RSS’s Hindi mouthpiece Panchjanya wrote that Pakistan has “lost its ability to deal with anarchy as a nation” and that most of that country’s prime ministers know they could face criminal charges and arrests when they are no longer in power.

Khan was arrested in connection with what has come to be referred to as Toshakhana case, in which he is accused of unlawfully selling state gifts during his premiership.

The truth is that every prime minister knows that as soon as he leaves power, the next government will target him. So he makes his second home in places like London or Dubai for his post-power life,” the Panchjanya editorial said 

Imran Khan isn’t the only one who was arrested on criminal charges, it added.  

“Whoever becomes the prime minister there — and at least six such cases are very clear — he gets implicated in one or the other allegation. One former prime minister (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) was hanged, two (Liaquat Ali Khan and Benazir Bhutto)  were shot. Sheikh Mujib was denied power and Nawaz Sharif was forced to leave the country on corruption charges. Five prime ministers have been arrested after stepping down from power,” it further said.

Also Read: What’s the definition of minority, asks Hindu Right press as it worries about ‘demographic changes’ in India

Gyanvapi issue and Gandhi’s ‘solution’

Former BJP MP and right-leaning commentator Balbir Punj suggested a “Gandhian way” to resolve the Gyanvapi mosque. 

Writing a column in Punjab Kesari, Punj claimed it was ironic that while a large section of Muslims got a separate country, Hindu society in India still continues to fight for its temples.  

Punj quoted an extract of Mahatma Gandhi’s 1925 article in Young India, in which he claims the leader, while answering a reader’s question with regard to a mosque dispute, had shown a way to resolve the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi mosque dispute.

“Gandhiji had given advice on how such historical injustice should be redressed 98 years ago,” he wrote, and quoted Gandhi as saying: “If ‘A’ (a Hindu) is in possession of his land and any person builds any building on it, even if it be a mosque, ‘A’ has the right to pull it down. Not every building in the shape of a mosque can be a mosque. It will be called a mosque only when the rites of passage are performed for it to be a mosque. To erect a building on someone’s land without asking is sheer dacoity. Postage cannot be sacred.” 

India’s push for trading in rupee

In an article he wrote for his blog, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch’s national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan said that the “erosion of western financial hegemony” was in India’s national interest. 

Writing in the context of the Indian government’s push towards trading in the rupee, Mahajan wrote: “The US dollar has become a weapon for some countries. It has contributed to rising trade deficit, contributed to inflation and made us dependent on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) for the wellbeing of the domestic economy and market.” 

The predominance of the US dollar in international trade has been particularly worrying for India and other developing nations at times of economic crisis, he wrote — especially in the wake of G7 nations’ sanctions against Moscow in connection with the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“At times, certain countries have faced a paucity of US dollars, which has affected (their) importing ability,” Mahajan said, adding that India has been a “victim” of Western sanctions in the past, having had to “recalibrate its economic ties after Washington introduced sanctions against countries such as Iran”.

For context, India stopped buying oil from Iran in May 2019 in the wake of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. Prior to this, India was the second-largest buyer of Iranian oil after China. 

On Karnataka elections

In his weekly column in Naya India, Right-leaning journalist Hari Shankar Vyas, the editor-in-chief of the Hindi daily, wrote that despite the BJP’s loss in Karnataka’s elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would find it hard to break out of the mould that he and his party had created for themselves in the past nine years.  

Modi, he said, “considers himself omnipotent, omniscient and God incarnate in his self-indulgence”.

“As much as I know and understand Narendra Modi, I believe that if he is worried, he is also helpless. Because in nine years, they have created their own web of power, in which there is no scope for thinking and creating something new,”  Vyas wrote in his critical piece. “He (Modi) cannot break out of this self-made web and devise new ways of governance and contesting elections. Notice how his style of contesting elections has evolved in the last nine years — 100 per cent self centered.” 

Right-leaning author and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Makarand Paranjape also analysed the election results. Writing a column in Gulf News, he said that the lessons from it are clear —  “just Hindutva is insufficient to deliver victory, particularly south of the Vindhyas”.

 “BJP’s failure satisfactorily to dispense development in clearly bought out the voters disbelief, if not ire, against the ‘double-engine sarkara’ – the fact that the party is also in power at the federal level did not quite offset the anti-incumbency that it was facing in the state,” he wrote in his opinion piece.

He said that not only was the BJP unable to capitalise on local issues such as unemployment and rural poverty, but also ended up alienating the loyal Lingayat vote bank by its perceived mistreatment of senior leaders such as former CM Jagadish Shettar and former deputy CM Laxman Savadi, Paranjape wrote. 

“The BJP must have understood that you cannot parachute in at the last moment to win a state by a campaign blitzkrieg after failing to deliver on development expectations of the previous two-three years,” he wrote. “Neither can you rely only on Hindutva to turn the tide in your favour. Nor can the Modi charisma alone swing an election in your favour.” 

 BMS and labour laws 

In its fortnightly magazine Vishwakarma Sanket, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the RSS’s labour wing, reiterated its opposition to two controversial labour laws — the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020. 

These laws, along with two others — the Code on Wages and the Social Security Code — were passed in spite of opposition last November to replace a total of 29 labour laws in India. 

According to the BMS, the two laws need more amendments. 

“Today, 94 per cent of the total labourers in the country are in the unorganised sector, and many are outside the ambit of labour laws and do not get social security and other benefits. Permanent appointees are also being converted into contract workers. Good remunerative service conditions should be implemented for such a large number of workers,” the article said. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: ‘All interfaith marriages not love jihad, but can’t deny facts’ — Hindu Right press on The Kerala Story


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