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Background to what's happening in India and esp. Gujarat.......
by Saima Alvi
24 April 2002 20:06 UTC
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Posted from 

Indian polity is a stage for the RSS

The Vajpayees, Advanis and Narendra Modis are simply actors working towards 
the RSS dream of a Hindu Rashtra, says Zafar Agha

New Delhi, April 24

The country had watched Prime Minister Vajpayee unmasking himself in Goa 
with a sense of disbelief and shock. After all, the country had nursed a 
different image of a poet -turned-politician to whom the nation had turned 
in its moment of crisis in 1998 after a disastrous brush with the Third 
Front alternative. A huge majority of Indian liberals had then turned to 
Vajpayee hoping that he would defang the BJP of its communal poison and 
transform it into a moderate alternative to the Congress that had decayed 
after its four-decade long stay in the corridors of power. 

In that sense, Vajpayee is no ordinary prime minister. He had arrived at a 
historic moment on the Indian political scene when the country was looking 
for a new turn to begin its journey into a new millennium. It was looking 
towards Vajpayee hoping he would not only transform his own party but also 
give a kickstart to Indian politics with a new-look BJP that could leave 
the mistakes of the Congress behind its back.

Vajpayee could perhaps transform the BJP, whose stint in power did open up 
an opportunity for the party to put behind its gory past with events like 
the demolition of the Babri masjid still fresh in peoples' memory, but he 
never was nor is in a position to transform and change the Rashtrriya 
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that ultimately pulls the strings.

The RSS is not a political party. It is a platform with a committed agenda 
to transform India into a Hindu Rashtra. The Sangh at no point of time has 
either vacillated or wavered from its commitment. All its energies during 
its over 75-year-long existence have singularly been devoted to its 
commitment to Hindu Rashtra. Both individuals and organisations have only 
been a means for the Sangh to its end. Vajpayee or Advani, Ashok Singhal or 
Narendra Modi, all of them come and go for the Sangh that brilliantly uses 
them in its march towards its goal. 

Even parties and institutions are just a means for the Sangh to move ahead 
towards its goal. After all, the Sangh dumped its old favourite Jan Sangh 
in 1977 to merge with the Janata Party that was then a means to dent the 
Congress. Then, the Sangh revived the BJP in 1980 with a Gandhian label to 
hoodwink the voter and the middle classes. But soon after the mid-1980s, 
the Sangh took another turn and decided to shed the BJP's soft image to 
prepare it for hard-selling Hindutva. The RSS initially let the Vishwa 
Hindu Parishad (VHP) test the waters for the Ram temple issue. Eventually L 
K Advani was thrust ahead to lead the BJP towards carving a Hindu vote 
bank. Advani did his job well. He brought the BJP to the level from where 
it could leapfrog to power. But still the BJP needed to cobble an alliance 
to get the magical 232 figure that eluded the party in Parliament during 
its 13 day stopover in power

This time, Vajpayee was paraded as a liberal face of the BJP with a 
definite gameplan to hoodwink the intelligentsia and the Hindu middle 
classes that were still apprehensive of the hard Hindutva agenda. His task 
was to rope in the allies who were still undecided about the BJP and its 
communal agenda. Vajpayee played his role well and lulled the vast segments 
of Indian liberals. Vajpayee fulfilled his mission with finesse and shed 
his mask when the allies were left with no option but to sink and swim with 
the BJP. Leaders like Chandrababu Naidu, Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav 
are now thoroughly discredited. If they ditch the BJP now, they will simply 
be out of power losing the next round of elections as well. So Vajpayee has 
done his job well and brought the BJP to the point where the Sangh feels 
that the BJP is ready to go alone with its hard Hindutva agenda and openly 
work for the Hindu rashtra.

But all through this brilliant game of changing party labels and playing up 
and down individuals and issues, the RSS was acting only from behind the 
scenes, paving the way for its ultimate goal of transforming India into a 
Hindu rashtra. And, all along the Sangh was essentially playing a game of 
deception in which the Vajpayees and Advanis were just doing their bit.

But then Gujarat happened. The Gujarat mayhem was engineered with a 
definite political goal. With Gujarat, the Sangh has decided to make its 
Hindu Rashtra goal public. But it has shocked Indian liberals who were 
taken in by Vajpayee's one-time Nehruvian rhetoric. They are shaken with 
Narendra Modi's crude and crass communal politics. 

But the RSS has made up its mind and has decided to clear the confusion, 
right from Bangalore, where it virtually announced that the time had come 
to openly speak about the status of Indian Muslims as second-class citizens 
of a Hindu Rashtra. The RSS executive resolution telling Muslims that 
they "need to earn Hindus' goodwill for their own safety" was nothing but a 
subtle statement of announcing that the Sangh, with all its institutions 
and actors, was ready to openly work for the Hindu Rashtra. Actors like 
Vajpayee were left with no option but to fall in line and shed their masks 
in Goa.

Well, there is no more confusion about the Sangh and the BJP's game plan. 
Both are now publicly and openly working to build a Hindu Rashtra. Gujarat 
is essentially a statement of intent of the entire Sangh Parivar. It is a 
statement that clearly underlines the fact that Muslims can only live as 
second-class citizens. The minorities will have to live at the mercy of the 
majority. It was the same sentiment that Vajpayee echoed in Goa when he 
said: "No one should preach us secularism. Don't forget that we have 
allowed the minorities to offer their prayers…." Even the subtle 
distinction of moderate and hawk is now blurred between the Sangh and 
Vajpayee as both are now speaking the same language. 

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