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Confessions of a BJP Supporter .......
by Saima Alvi
05 June 2002 15:47 UTC
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Confessions of a BJP Supporter by Parag Vohra

I had always looked upon my days of union baazi as a
youthful aberration. My involvement with the anti
Mandal agitation was based on a vague and perceived
sense of injustice, but it materialized into a
hooliganism which passed with time, and a few well
earned persuasive lessons from the Police. The
subsequent Rath Yatra and the Mandir movement per se
were qualitatively different for me. As anyone
familiar with the political shifts of the early 1990s
will recall, the Mandal issue directly brought the
largely upper caste urban middle class into conflict
with the government of the time. Even though it was
the Congress which was the main opposition party, it
was the BJP which was most affected by the Mandal
issue. The carefully cultivated Hindu vote bank was
disintegrating into a morass of inter-caste conflict.
Something needed to be done and soon. The answer was a
masterstroke of political strategy, the Rath Yatra to
begin at Somnath in Gujarat and to end at Ayodhya. 

The rank and file of the BJP as well as affiliated
wings such as the ABVP were energized about the Rath
Yatra as it took attention away from the Hindu
dividing Mandal commission, and it unified Hindus over
a historical wrong. Since a majority of youngsters in
the ABVP were not religious in the first place, an
outsider might be surprised at the depth of feeling
the Ram Mandir evoked. The Mandir issue however was
never a religious issue; it was a communal one. It
addressed the Hindu Kaum to support the rectification
of an insult which had been caused by invading

The reader at this point will probably start wondering
about the stupidity of rectifying an insult which was
supposedly made 450 years ago, and this response is
probably the sensible one. My own response to the Ram
Mandir movement was initially cynical. Sure, I had
grown up listening to stories of Partition, but those
stories hardly ever painted the Muslims to be the
villains of the piece. Those stories tended to paint
the Congress Leaders as villains, more so of
ineptitude rather than malice. It did generate a
healthy skepticism towards the secular politicians who
seemed to direct all their secularism towards Hindus.
Gandhi being such an example, where his hunger strikes
would be weapons of blackmail directed at Hindus
alone. The modern secularists would lecture Hindus on
keeping religion personal, but would line up outside
the Jama Masjid to ask for Fatwas of Muslim votes. The
Rath Yatra meandered its way across India, and we went
around asking for donations and pitting up posters of
“Mandir Wahin Banayengey.” By the time the Rath Yatra
reached Delhi, the public was charged and as we went
to temples of South and West Delhi neighborhoods, we
would see a massive outpouring of support. There were
a few in our crowd who were hardcore Hindutvawadis,
the majority being people like me, in it for the fun,
but with a vague sort of allegiance to the cause. I
remember using some of the money for food on beef
kebabs at Nizamuddin, but not feeling any guilt about

The Rath Yatra ended in Bihar when Laloo Yadav’s
government arrested LK Advani and prevented the
procession from entering the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Yes, we were still putting on a brave face and
laughing about it saying that we expected this to
happen. But this time the laughter was a bit forced.
After Advani’s arrest, the BJP withdrew support to the
ruling Janata Dal and elections were announced. The
Mandir was one of the main issues, and as is usual,
politicians of the main parties were given time to put
forth their perspectives on national television. The
conversion from cynic to true believer came for me
from one speech. Mulayam Singh Yadav had emerged as
the savior of Muslims in UP. He had openly threatened
to fire on any BJP/VHP supporters who dared to enter
Ayodhya. This particular speech was aimed at a
national audience, and he asked if there was any proof
that Bhagwan Ram was born at that very spot. An
innocuous and perfectly logical question one might
say. But his actual language was insulting and even
designed to inflame; “Kya Ram ka kiraye ka parcha hai
? Kya Ram key naam ka wahan Ration Card banna hua
hai?” (Is there a rent receipt for Ram? Is there a
Ration Card in the name of Ram for that place?) I was
stunned. Here was this chap, openly insulting a figure
of respect for so many million Hindus with abandon.
How many Muslim countries could he go to and get away
with saying the same thing about Prophet Muhammad?
Yes, we are Indians, and should not compare ourselves
to countries that have chosen different paths, but
secularism in India had degenerated into trashing the
icons of the majority community and applying different
standards for minorities. If the secularist politician
had made it okay to have iftar parties and seek fatwas
for Muslim votes, but at the same time had made it
possible for a Hindu God to be insulted on TV, then we
knew that secularism was not for us. I found out
later, the effect of Mulayam Yadav had the same effect
all over North India. Ironically, Mulayam Singh Yadav
did more to fuel the Ram movement than any other Jan
Sanghi leader. 

Post elections, Chandrashekhar came to power supported
by the Congress, I had quit my liberal arts program
and moved on to Hotel school. I was no longer involved
in student politics but my sympathy for the Hindutva
movement remained and was aggravated by incidents like
the firing on unarmed Kar Sevaks by the UP police. 

One fine day, I was late for college as usual, grabbed
the newspaper to glance at the headlines while I was
stuffing egg and toast in my mouth. “Babri Majid
Destroyed!” screamed the newspaper headline. I could
not believe it. I was exultant to say the least.
Finally, the Hindu would not be taken for granted. I
rushed off to college and from there on to the old
student wing headquarters. Everyone was in a mood of
celebration. There was condemnation across the board,
the media as well as from abroad, which confirmed to
us that we had no allies and had to fight in
isolation. The subsequent demolishing of temples in
Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the dismissal of BJP
governments in all the ruling states and not just UP
hardened our stance even further. We, and by that I
refer to people with like minded views, were convinced
that many voices spoke for the Muslims, be it the
Arabs or the Pakistanis or even the “secular”
politicians of India who depended on the Muslim
votebank to win elections. As far as the Hindus were
concerned, the Sangh could be the only spokesperson.
The elections in UP brought back the BJP as well,
confirming that we were the true voice of the hitherto
unheard Hindu voice. 

The reader will perceive that I have hardly mentioned
the Muslims themselves. That is because, at least at
that time, the real enemy was the pseudo-secular
government and sundry other political parties who
pandered to the extreme Muslim organizations. However,
there were specific issues about the Muslims that
rallied the Hindutva masses. . The Muslim that we
projected was not the rickshaw pulled or the tailor
but the demagogues. Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, Syed
Shahabuddin, the Imam of the Jama Masjid, all were
critical towards demonizing the Muslim community.
These leaders had openly declared their contempt for
the Supreme Court of India at the time of the Shah
Bano case. They had also, in harsh and separatist
language, rejected a common Civil Code for citizens of
India. The Haj subsidy etc were other examples of
favouritism for one specific community. Pakistan was a
handy tool as well. The case regarding Pakistan is
fairly clean cut for Hindus. It is an enemy country,
and the Hindus will by and large support the
government in whatever course it chooses to pursue
against Pakistan. In case of Muslims, we knew that a
lot of Muslims had family in Pakistan. How could you
expect a citizen of India to consider another country
as an enemy if his brother in law lived there? I had
such an experience with a Muslim guest who had come to
our house at an Air Force base in Allahabad. This
chap, who was a civilian employee of the Air Force,
proudly related stories to us about his nephews in
Pakistan. I remember being almost speechless at his
perceived audacity, whereas the poor chap was probably
talking in all innocence. 

I left India in 1995, and remained a supporter of the
Sangh Parivar in my initial days. My initial
disillusionment with the Sangh Parivar came about due
to the economic policies articulated by the Swadeshi
Jagran Manch and not any difference in it’s
ideological posturing. My rejection of communal
thinking came slowly as I immersed myself in a more
individualistic culture. This was also the first time
that I was interacting with Pakistanis. Ethnic and
linguistic bonds proved to be stronger than religious
bonds and I became really good friends with Punjabis
from Pakistan. Subsequently, I believed that the BJP
was different from the rest of the Sangh Parivar, and
it was a nationalist organization not a communal one.
Gujarat was the final nail in the coffin of a dead
philosophy. As I mentioned to a Muslim friend
recently, I feel like one of those Germans after WW2,
who insisted they had no idea about the Holocaust, but
no one believed them. This is where I’m at right now,
disillusioned with the ones I had faith in, yet unable
to accept those I had rejected many years before. 

Posted from 

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