Earlier we pointed out the mess in which Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of secular democratic India and also an admirer of Hindutva (India-a Hindu Nation) ideology has placed himself. The Hindutva tattooed all over his torso goes deeper into his soul, even though India’s constitution expects him to stay secular.
Hopes of growth and development on which he won federal polls stand belied, as Modi’s various foreign trips holding the ‘make in India’ logo in his hands failed to generate international investments and employment opportunities. Foreign Direct Investors and multinational corporations want Indian authorities to enact tax laws suitable for them, and also to ensure a peaceful environment for security of their investments and industrial infrastructure. Such guarantees are not easy to offer under the present disturbed environs in India for any one to offer, Modi included!
A hope that soon died out
Soon after Modi took over in 2014, he promised to make “India First” his religion and to venerate its Constitution as the only holy book. Also “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (Together with all, Development for all) was the road he promised to tread for peace and economic growth. Such assurances emanating from Modi lent people and the minorities in particular some hope for better security, because his record as BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat on this count was flawed. Modi in his new avatar (Prime Minister) might be a changed man, they thought.
But peace was shaken too soon as activists of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), an extreme Hindu right organization and its affiliates, took the BJP’s electoral victory as the golden opportunity to make India a Hindu Nation.
Violent mobs stormed the streets against ‘Love Jihad’, the name given by RSS to inter- religious marriages. They harassed, beat, punished and killed men and women in their homes, on the roads, in fact anywhere, merely on the suspicion of their eating or carrying beef. Minorities felt beleaguered but the PM kept quiet. Many opine that he either acquiesces or is unable to discipline the rowdies that include many BJP law makers and his cabinet colleagues, some of whom in saintly robes spew venom against opponents and incite followers to impose the Hindu way of life on all. In higher education centres, many liberal minded scholars and administrators who refused to fall in line were kicked out, and some have been killed. Hindutva elements have now targeted Dalits in the name of cow slaughter!
Gujarat a Hindutva Laboratory
Decades before Modi took over as its chief minister, Gujarat province was made a laboratory by the BJP for its political growth. Religion was blended with politics here, to lay the foundation over which BJP’s edifice of Hindutva stands today.
The Rath Yatra (“Chariot Journey”) from Somnath in Gujarat, to Ajodhya in Uttar Pradesh, undertaken by L.K. Advani in 1990, mobilized Hindus to build a Temple at the birthplace of the deity Rama by bringing down the Babri Mosque that stood there at the time. Hindu-Muslim riots broke out from where the chariot passed through, leaving a trail of blood behind.
Tens of thousands of activists reached Ajodhya, where volunteers stormed the mosque, in a battle with security forces that left many dead. The BJP game plan to bring Hindutva to centre stage of Indian politics succeeded. The BJP made significant gains in elections which followed, both at the national and the state level.
A decade later Modi became Gujarat Chief Minister, and the province witnessed a pogrom in which thousands of Muslims lost their lives, many were hurt, and myriads became homeless. Moving fast forward, Gujarat in 2016 is in the news again, not for some good reasons. Dalits have been attacked by “cow protectors” just for skinning a dead cow, the job they have been doing since time long past.
Dalits under attack
Disposal of dead animals, skinning them or carrying night soil, etc. are the vocations assigned to Dalits by Brahminical Hinduism since times immemorial. But the online image of a hefty cow protector hitting half-naked Dalits tied to a car with his cane is repugnant. Many other horrible images of Dalit and Muslim victims lying dead or reeling under feet of cow protectors have also appeared.
Thanks to the Modi regime, which prompted his followers to recreate scenarios of the feudal era, murder, flogging, and humiliation of Muslims and Dalits in the name of cow protection, are increasing day by day, while law enforcement agencies look the other way.
Under such a backdrop, Dalits in Gujarat have stood up in protest, vowing neither to lift carcasses of animals from public places nor to skin cows, and asking for land and funds from the BJP government to change their vocation. They have asked the state government to provide them licensed firearms to protect themselves against alleged atrocities by the upper caste Hindus.
Besides Dalits, cattle traders, Dairy farmers, soap manufactures and transporters have been exposed to their job hazards not known before.
In the end
Breaking his silence over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims, PM Modi has come up with a melodramatic statement: “shoot me’, but stop attacking Dalits.
Quite strange for a man with his much proclaimed 56 inch chest, a powerful PM of world’s largest democracy, to say such things. Instead of dealing sternly with criminals, he is making appeals to those who in the name of Gau Hatya (cow slaughter) are indulging in Manav Hatya (man slaughter). Maybe something is common between Narendra Modi and these elements.
“Dalits were like mentally retarded children”, he had said as Chief Minister of Gujarat. Again in his book Karmayog, published in 2007, Modi wrote, “the work of cleaning toilets has been a spiritual experience for the Valmiki community”.
Interestingly the mainstream media has questioned Modi, “Would the PM care to explain to the country what he means by manual scavenging being a “spiritual” experience?