Friday, December 26, 2014

Answering the VHP's questions to Swapan Dasgupta

(VHP top official Ashok Chowgule has reacted to a recent column by Swapan Dasgupta, effectively a representative of the dominant wing in the BJP, viz. the economic rightists. Many of them regularly pooh-pooh the other wing of the BJP, viz. the cultural nationalists. It might be useful, for those interested, if I give my viewpoint to the same questions as put to Swapan Dasgupta, posed after his
NDTV column of 22 December 2014: "Some in RSS Have Profound Distaste for PM". Here goes: )

1.     How many in the BJP have a profound distaste for the RSS?
It is not for me to give numbers here, but after the Rama Janmabhumi agitation, which the BJP tried to shake off after reaping the dividends in the 1991 elections, my impression was of a constant growth in  the number of BJP men who wanted to distance themselves and the party from the RSS and from any Hindu ideology. The hegemonic ideology of secularism made ever deeper inroads among the members of a party started for the sake of Hindu interests. It reached a symbolic culmination when LK Advani, the face of the Ayodhya movement, called the demolition on 6  Dec. 1992 "the blackest day" of his life. The present government and its dependencies are full of time-servers and opportunists who don't want to be bothered with ideology and just want to make hay while Modi's sun shines. Those who cared for Hinduism were not always the most sophisticated either. I remember a conversation with BL Sharma Prem, BJP MP from Delhi, where he talked loosely about "teaching Muslims a lessen" and all that. Many Hindu activists confuse toughness and ideological commitment with a willingness to use unprovoked violence. They are the best allies of the secularist propaganda equating Hindu activism with violence against the minorities.
2.     Given that the BJP seeks and gets the support of the total Sangh parivar at the time of the elections, should not their concerns be addressed by the BJP? 
The argument used by the economy-wallahs is precisely that the BJP should do its voters' bidding, and that it won the elections on a development platform. No, it won the election because numerous Hindu voters finally believed there was a pro-Hindu among the serious candidates, namely Narendra Modi, and that is why exceptionally they bothered to go cast their votes. They never would have done that just for the BJP. Baba Ramdev is but the most famous of the numerous people who assured me that they voted for Modi, not for the BJP.
3.     You say that Narendraji made the VHP irrelevant in Gujarat.  Apart from being factually wrong, and assuming that the effort was made, was it the right thing to do in terms of the cause of a Hindu resurgence?
It is truly bad for a BJP man to treat the VHP as an enemy, on a par with the Nehru dynasty or the Naxalites. Indeed it is they who should and do treat the VHP as an enemy whom they mean to destroy. That the VHP was virtually destroyed in Gujarat, I heard in tempore non suspecto from a Gujarat BJP man, so I guess it may well be true. The infighting inside the Sangh Parivar escapes most secularist "studies" as these are meant to uphold the image of a "fascist" monolith, but we know that it is there. 
4.     Suppose the attempt was indeed made, and had it been successful, would not an important part of the Sangh parivar been organisationally destroyed?  And would this have benefited the cause of a Hindu resurgence?
Destroying a part of the Sangh Parivar is bad for the Sangh Parivar, but I would con,done it if it was somehow beneficial to the Hindu cause. But nothing indicates such an outcome, nor such a concern. If the present BJP acts against the most ideologically committed member of the Sangh Parivar, viz. the VHP, it is invariably an attempt to shake off ideology.
5.     You have talked about the Hindu Mahasabha.  Is this a member of the Sangh parivar? 
Originally, the difference was that it was a political party, while the RSS was not. It is on this ground that Nathuram Godse crossed over from the RSS to the HMS. After the founding of the Jan Sangh in 1952, then the BJP in 1980, this distinction has become irrelevant. The only difference in discourse is that the Hindu Mahasabha openly supports Nathuram Godse and the Mahatma murder, while the Sangh Parivar condemns them, in vain. The secularists are correct in pointing out that Godse has had his ideological education in the RSS, but the RSS is correct in stating that its strategy does not include targeted murders. In that sense, Godse acted on his own and made a very individual applicatio of the Hindu nationalism he had learnt. 
6.     You say: “There is also a media environment that is conducive to the fringe. It simply requires some 50 individuals, a controversial cause and a few TV cameras to give otherwise irrelevant people notoriety, publicity and even secure political impact.”  Is this not a bad reflection of the profession that you are associated with – namely journalism?
Is this a reference to my talk at the India Ideas Conclave, much filmed and talked about, especially to highlight the anti-Islamic element in circles associated with the Modi government? It is at any rate true that I am "irrelevant". None of my books or opinions personally communicated to Hindutva bigwigs during interviews or on group occasions has made any impact, and secularists have taken even less notice. If Swapan knows of a journalistic way to transmute this irrelevance into "political impact", he is welcome me tell me about it.
7.     During NDA 1, you had said that there are many in the BJP that are seeking a certificate of secularism from the very people whom they have labelled as pseudo-secular.  I wonder if this malice has not already become prominent in NDA 2.
BJP people seeking secularist certificates is still a problem now that they have an absolute majority. They have never elaborated an analysis of their own, so they are still dependent on the worldview furnished by the secularists.
8.     You say: “There is a feeling in government circles that the present controversies that led to the disruption of Parliament were wilfully triggered by VHP's Dr Pravin Togadia, an individual who has an acrimonious relationship with Modi.”  I really hope you are not serious.
I have no idea of personal relationships. I do notice, however, that the people who triggered the ideological controversies which Modi put down, have not done their homework. Rather than achieving pro-Hindu reforms, they merely ruffle feathers and create commotion by talking about them. Where is the strategy for pro-Hindu reform?
9.     Let me ask your personal opinion.  Should Ghar Vapasi programme be undertaken or no?
Ghar Wapasi is the only solution for the Dying Race. It should not be stopped or postponed for any other political goal. Any other strategy to stop the aggressive onward march of the minorities is doomed to failure, e.g. "teaching Muslims a lesson" or demographic mobilization. It follows, however, that there is no ground for an anti-conversion bill, which doesn't work anyway (cfr. China), antagonizes world opinion, and belongs to the mindless repressive policies (cfr. book-banning) with which Hindu activism is already too associated. 


Shankar Sharan said...

Dr Elst, your situation is truly unique. Though also reflective of and identical to many Hindu writers, observers and even political activists. You are branded as RSS-man, but RSS does not listen to your counsel. So you are nowhere as far as getting space and honour are concerned. Is it indicative of being the sympathiser of a 'Dying Race'?

Gopi said...

You did not tell us why did LKA call the actions of Dec 6, 1992 "blackest day" of his life. And, reasons were not what you are trying to slyly imply here. He called it so not for demolition but for total break-down of discipline that day.

JS said...

Dr.Koenraad Elst,
i would like to contact you .how to do it.what is your mail id ?

Gururaj B N said...

RSS and its outfits must hold their horses at least until NDA secures majority in Rajya Sabha. By prematurely starting Ghar Wapasi or by making controversial assertions, these Hindu Activists are unwittingly weakening and obstructing the first truly nationalist government. If they have put up with the oppression of Nehruvian secularism for six decades, waiting foru couple of more years wouldn't harm Hindu interests.

Koenraad Elst said...

Unknown said...

There is a hard battle ahead and the Hindutvavadis will have to come out with some lasting strategies instead of crude ghar wapsi tamashas. By their antics they are just giving handle to the secularists to discredit them as rabid fringe elements who are out to destroy social disharmony and thereby depict the NDA II as irresponsible govt by association. They are deeply entrenched into the system and have the support of MSM whom they have patronised for decades. Having been mauled badly they will not let go of any opportunity to snipe at the govt. Hindutvavadis will have to be patient and work out strategies to work silently away from the public glare. They should learn from the missionaries who work assiduously in remote tribal areas without raising heckles. Making crude and stupid statements and bragging in public would only invite ridicule and hostility from your enemies. Work intelligently and work according to a plan. Be sleek in your public discourses and don't court controversies. If NDA lasts long enough the Hindutva agenda will also last otherwise it would be a sheer foolhardiness and your chances may be list forever.