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Hindu Rashtra Is Here!

By AMULYA GANGULI
April 10, 2022 11:49 IST
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In a mistaken zeal to bolster the BJP's electoral base, the party -- or at least its followers -- appear to have convinced themselves that the Hindu rashtra is already here.
It's a grave mistake, warns Amulya Ganguli.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
 

The Hindutva lobby is seemingly on a roll. It has never had it so good -- or so it believes.

After the saffron crowd's success in four out of five recent elections, they have started using one issue after another to emphasise their Hindutva credentials and raise the communal temperature.

Starting with the demand that Muslim women should discard their all-enveloping traditional hijabs or burqas in favour of school and college uniforms, the saffron storm-troopers have sought to ban the sale of halal meat, disallow Muslim traders from opening shops at temple fairs and call for ending the practice of using loudspeakers for the azaan, the muezzin's call for prayer five times a day.

To drown out the azaan, the Hindutva brigade has come up with the idea of using their own loudspeakers to broadcast the Hanuman chalisa, a Hindu devotional recital.

Now that the Islamic holy month of Ramzan is here, the storm-troopers also want the stopping of the sounding of sirens from the mosques to announce the time for eating before dawn and after sunset, an age-old ritual for the community .

Since the period of Navratri is also here when the Hindus either observe fast or partake of a strict vegetarian diet, the followers of Hindutva want to ban the sale of meat from shops which are generally run by Muslims.

Never before have so many sticks been wielded all at the same time to berate the Muslims.

Usually, it used to be one issue at a time -- either the campaign against love jihad to stop inter-faith marriage, or the lynching of Muslim traders for transporting cattle meant for the slaughter house.

But the present lumping together of several social and economic issues -- hijab, halal, azaan, etc -- aimed at persuading/coercing the Muslims to adhere to guidelines outlined by Hindus is unusual.

It is possible that the BJP's recent electoral successes have emboldened the party and its various bigoted offshoots to up the ante.

Instead of taking one step at a time, they have chosen to rush ahead in a determined effort to implement their agenda.

The forthcoming elections in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka may have motivated them.

Of the three, Karnataka is particularly important.

The BJP is known to be not very influential there, having dispensed with the party's tallest leader in the state, B S Yediyurappa, and now functioning under a nondescript chief minister, Basavaraj Bommai.

The party needs incendiary issues, therefore, to boost its chances. And what can be more flammable than a display of Islamophobia?

However, a reckless bunching together of combustible material can test the mettle of the state and central governments.

As it is, a Bollywood film, which Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar has called a 'propaganda' effort and a retired R&AW official has said comprises 'half-truths', has added fuel to the communal cauldron.

The present is not a propitious moment, therefore, to vigorously implement a pro-Hindu agenda.

In a mistaken zeal to bolster the BJP's electoral base, the party -- or at least its followers -- appear to have convinced themselves that the Hindu rashtra is already here.

It's a grave mistake.

Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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