Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Minorities hijack democracy

by Sandhya Jain

Two successive assaults on Indian democracy by Governors hailing from minority communities exemplify how this country is hostage to a secular-minority determination to inflict political subordination on the Hindu community. While moves for a hat-trick in Patna were thwarted after Rashtrapati Bhavan rang a warning bell, the possibility of tinkering with the people's verdict remains open in Goa, Jharkhand and even Bihar.

Despite the sharp media exposure that saw Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi scuttling for cover and pushed the Manmohan Singh regime into damage control, the secular media continues to be an unreliable ally in the struggle for Hindu rights and dignity. Readers may question this focus on the majority community since the parties cheated of their democratic dues are not exclusivist Hindu parties.

Yet the larger truth is that since it espoused the Ram Janmabhoomi cause (later abandoned), the BJP came to be regarded as a party that perceived and wooed the Hindu community as a wholistic entity, though local caste arithmetic mattered while fielding candidates. But because it sought votes from a united Hindu community, it was dubbed a "Hindu communalist party".

In contrast, the Congress, Left and secular regional parties regard the Muslim and Christian communities as their political cornerstones. Both groups are wooed on the basis of a collective communal identity rooted in religious exclusivity, and are encouraged to give an anti-Hindu edge to their political consciousness. Hence the importance of the Church and the Imams at poll time; the Election Commission must explain why it takes no cognizance of this religio-political theocracy. The secular parties seek Hindu support as add-ons to their minority vote corpus, to win elections, and hence divide Hindus on caste lines. I view this policy of minority-plus-Hindu-collaborators as post-independence colonialism.

In this context, it needs to be understood that democracy is not just numbers, nor is nationalism merely territory. Democracy means the general will of the people as reflected through the majority. In India, Hindus will always comprise the bulk of any majority, in any situation. Jawaharlal Nehru's antipathy for the Hindu people and their civilizational aspirations, rising after nearly thousand years of powerlessness, led him to pervert our democracy in favour of the minorities at a nascent stage. Disarming critics with the bogey of "Hindu communalism" (never explained), he fathered a perverse democracy that distorted the popular will. For decades, Congress was ably assisted by Election Commissions that placed ballot boxes strategically (sic) and inhibited undesired (read anti-Congress) voters from coming to the booths.

Nationalism too, cannot be delinked from the nation's majority-core population, as it includes love of the native culture and civilisation, as much as of the land. Many minority citizens display exemplary loyalty towards India's territorial integrity, and their personal contributions in this regard are second to none. But this is a nationalism of the body, not of the soul. India's minorities claim only partial citizenship when they emphasise a physical relationship to the soil, on account of genealogical ties, as most are converts. By denying themselves, indeed, by actively shunning, the greater citizenship of its rich civilisational cosmos, they not only spiritually impoverish themselves, but insult the motherland in a manner that causes deep distress to the rest of us.

Living in the same house, they declare themselves outsiders. This naturally creates distrust, and if these psychological barriers are to be overcome, some of us must speak plainly, rather than abet misunderstandings through a conspiracy of silence.

Ever since Ms Sonia Gandhi became party president, there has been an utterly disproportionate rise of minority leaders in the upper echelons of the party, and a highly repulsive in-your-face articulation of so-called minority interests, which are to be achieved by debasing the larger citizenry. Thus, under a secular dispensation, there can be no concord; only conflict or competition.

Congress and its UPA allies are brazen about forming a "secular" government by disrespecting the people's mandate in three States. Minority appeasement is India's new jaziya. It is extracted through State power, and understandably minority members figure prominently among the zamindars, for who will better enjoy the forced servility of the subjected?

In Goa, the Manohar Parrikar regime was destabilized and given just 48 hours to prove its majority by a Governor who danced at a party in the wake of the tsunami tragedy. When the Chief Minister won the vote of confidence, he was peremptorily sacked by Mr SC Jamir, in an operation masterminded from Delhi by Mr Ahmad Patel.

Mr Pratapsinh Rane received a month to prove his majority, but poetic justice rendered this counter-productive. As the tactical resignations by the BJP Speaker and Deputy Speaker tilted the scales, the cussedness of the pro-tem Speaker gave Mr Rane a pyhrric victory. A media that was quiescent over Goa screamed at the rape of democracy in Jharkhand, and Congress had to backtrack. President's rule has since been imposed, but with the Assembly in suspended animation, scope for horse-trading remains, unless elections are called.

Jharkhand enraged public opinion because the BJP was close to victory and quickly garnered a simple majority with the help of Independents. But Governor Syed Sibte Razi displayed a shameful bias from the beginning, insisting upon personal verification with the five MLAs, no doubt to browbeat them. When this did not work, he swore in Mr Shibu Soren and gave him three weeks to prove his majority. Congress spokespersons Ms Ambika Soni and Mr Anand Sharma chortled gleefully until an uproar by BJP and the media prompted President Abdul Kalam to summon the Governor.

Congress immediately went into denial. But Mr Razi was made of sterner stuff. He preponed the vote of confidence by just six days and organised the Assembly session in a manner conducive to enable Mr Soren to manufacture a majority. The Jharkhand chapter is therefore far from over. While I believe that any Congressman could have acted as Mr Jamir and Mr Razi did, the fact of their belonging to minority communities gives an added edge to Hindu unease over the intentions of the Sonia-led Congress.

Mercifully, President Kalam's displeasure over Jharkhand alerted Bihar Governor Buta Singh to err on the side of caution, and Mr Lalu Yadav's determination to install Ms Rabri Devi as Chief Minister has been checkmated for the present. But it is too early to predict the backroom manoeuvres that Congress and the RJD will indulge in to get Mr Ram Vilas Paswan to fall in line once media attention shifts elsewhere. If Mr Paswan shows greater sensitivity to his Muslim votebank than to his Hindu supporters, we may well see the rise of a "secular" regime in Patna, sooner rather than later.

This brings me back to the issue of the usurpation of Indian democracy by the minorities. Much of the fault, as Shakespeare said, lies in the Hindu community itself. We have tolerated a language of political discourse that talks of "creating a secular government" and dares to call the natural ascendance of Hindus in public life as "communal".

However, all is not lost. Over the past five decades, Hindu irritation at Muslim obduracy has led to a sharp fall in winning candidates at national and State level, regardless of party affiliation. Perhaps this is a lesson that the Christian community is now waiting to learn.


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