'A Muslim is lynched somewhere, and you forward the video of the lynching through WhatsApp.'
'So, you participate in that lynching without actually doing it. You endorse it without being a party to it.'
"You may not be a voter of the BJP, but you endorse the act of building a Ram temple because you very much believe in the ideology. Maybe not to that extent. That's how the BJP and the RSS gain strength," Apoorvanand, professor at the Delhi University and a critic of the Hindutva ideology pursued by the Narendra Damodarda Modi government, tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.
The second of a multi-part interview.
It appears hate is the feeling that is ruling the country now, especially on social media. Do you think the majority of Indians have become hate mongers? Or, are we hearing only those voices?
We have seen worldwide that when such forces start gaining ground, it's their cacophony that fills the atmosphere. And we see the others keep nodding their heads. First, they say, we don't belong to them, then they nod their heads. Many of the prejudices you hide in your heart get a voice.
Is it awakened?
Yes, it is awakened. It is like this; you have this prejudice, this hatred inside, and then you see somebody else giving voice to it.
For example, a Muslim is lynched somewhere, and you forward the video of the lynching through WhatsApp or other social media platforms. So, you participate in that lynching without actually doing it. You endorse it without being a party to it.
Is it because of this support that the BJP is winning seats?
I think so. You may not be a voter of the BJP, but you endorse the act of building a Ram temple because you very much believe in the ideology. Maybe not to that extent. That's how the BJP and the RSS gain strength.
So, is the way forward what Narendra Modi said at Varanasi; that for every temple built, they would be laying fibre optics under the sea?
That's the classic representation of fascism; this fascination with technology. Not science.
It is like this; you will get a temple and you will also get mobile data free.
That's the way they lure you; that you will get tradition and also modernity.
Here is Kashi Vishwanath and here is fibre optics.
Are you saying this strategy has been used earlier too, and there is nothing new about it?
Yes, there is nothing new about this. The RSS is a very good student of Mussolini and Hitler. You have to read (the RSS's second sarsanghchalak, Madhav Sadashiv) Golwalkar and (RSS founder Keshav Baliram) Hegdewar to see their fascination for Hitler and Mussolini.
The RSS had also realised that India was a much more complex and complicated society, and its social composition was much more varied than that of Germany or Italy.
We have many beliefs within a belief, and there are different kinds of people. So, they knew they had to work very cautiously to build a Hindu identity.
Do you think they have succeeded finally?
I would say, they have succeeded to a significant extent. Because they have managed to turn a majority of the Hindus to Muslim haters.
Like many people believe, do you think the Congress was responsible for this because its motto was minority appeasement which made many Hindus angry to move towards this ideology?
I don't subscribe to this popular view because I don't understand what minority appeasement is.
After the horrendous bloodshed that followed Indian Independence, India had decided that it would remain a secular country. There was a threat of anti-Muslim hatred being carried for a very long time after the Hindus and Sikhs were targeted in the areas in Pakistan. It was a fact that Muslims were attacked not just in Delhi, elsewhere too.
And the leaders of the newly independent India felt it was their duty to protect the minorities in India which again is what civilised societies do.
They assured the minorities that they would live as equals and would maintain their distinct identity. Even when 80% of Indian population was Hindus, they would not be asked to follow the Hindu way of life. This assurance was taken as appeasement.
Let me ask, how many Muslim chief ministers did the Congress have post-Independence?
How many Muslin MPs and how many Muslim MLAs did the party have? So where is the appeasement?
Didn't the Congress use Muslims as a vote bank?
I again, disagree with this idea. Studies have been done from 1952-2019 on the voting pattern, and it has been found that Muslims vote very differently, and they don't vote in a homogenous manner.
Next, the tendency of the Muslim voters is to go with the popular flow. For example, how did they vote in 1967 or 1977?
Had the Congress been their appeaser, why did the Muslims largely support a change in the government?
Muslims also supported V P Singh. Take, for example, how do Muslims vote in Kerala or Tamil Nadu or Assam. It is a very diverse voting pattern.
Barring one party, that is the BJP or the Jan Sangh in its earlier avatar, the Muslims have voted for all parties. Their only concern is that the Jan Sangh or the Bharatiya Janata Party should not get strong as the party is an existential threat to them. Now, they have been proven right.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com