Three seemingly unconnected incidents took place in various parts of India recently that have ominous implications for India.
On Friday, April 18, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar, Giriraj Singh, made a categorical statement that “those who opposed Narendra Modi had no place in India. They would have to go to Pakistan after the elections.”
Earlier on April 8 in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, BJP’s senior leader Venkaiah Naidu said that “the BJP would bring in an anti-conversion law to ban religious conversions all over the country if it is voted to power in 2014 elections.”
And on April 21, (Easter Sunday), the International Working President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, world Hindu council) Dr. Pravin Togadia, in a vicious speech in Rajkot, Gujart, demanded that Muslims vacate houses in the Hindu areas of the city. Targeting a Muslim businessman, Togadia gave him 48 hours to vacate his house “if he does not relent” he told the Hindu mobs “go with stones, tires and tomatoes to his office” (reported in the Times of India ed. Ahmedabad, pg. 1, April 21, 2014).
Very interestingly on March 21, 2013, in the Maninagar area of Ahmedabad, Togadia gave a call to a large gathering for the establishment of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (nation) stating that by 2015, Gujarat would be the first ‘Hindu State’ of the country.
Incidentally, Maninagar is the constituency of Narendra Modi, the BJP prime ministerial candidate (who still hopes to swear by the Constitution of India) but till today has had no courage to take on Togadia and to denounce what he has been saying and doing. Though sections of the media make of an animosity between the two, the fact that they have the same mindset and are born to the same ideology, leaves no one in doubt.
The three incidents in very different parts of the country have much in common. They primarily reveal the core Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology which has spawned the BJP. It is no secret that the BJP prime ministerial candidate Modi was decided upon by the top brass of the RSS. That the ultimate desire of the RSS is the establishment of a ‘Hindu nation State’ is without a shadow of doubt. Naidu’s comments in Visakhapatnam must be seen in the same context.
In 2002, Modi raised the ‘bogey of conversion’ during his election campaign in Gujarat and in 2003, he brought in the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act which must be easily ranked as one of the most draconian laws in the history of any democracy anywhere in the world. The law very blatantly says that “if one wants to change his / her religion, one must first seek the permission of the civil authority (the Collector).” This law clearly violates Article 25 of the Constitution of India and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Giriraj’s threats are not empty ones. In his ten-year plus rule in Gujarat, Modi has been vindictive and vengeful. This can be exemplified by several instances.
In a hard-telling article in Live Mint (April 19), entitled ‘Narendra Modi critics Expect No Quarter, No Mercy” states “What should we expect from Modi Sarkar? I predict no quarter and no mercy. He will continue his tyrannical (I use the word in a classical sense) ways as he has in Gujarat.” So when Giriraj speaks the obvious, however silly it sounds, he is only manifesting the fascist agenda of those who seek to rule us.
One cannot help but be reminded of that immortal poem by the German Bertold Brecht (1898-1956) ‘In Dark Times’…..In hope, the struggle will continue indeed; even if the signs are ominous!
(Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace. He could be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)