The Two Faces Of The Sangh Parivar

Deccan Chronicle
5th November 2000

By Kancha Ilaiah

The socio-spiritual agendas and the related discourse that the BJP and the RSS are thrusting on Indian civil society will have very serious implications for the Indian nation-State. In the socio-political realm, such agendas and discourses would spread socio-spiritual fascism in multi-pronged forms which are bound to sprout equally socio-spiritual fascist associations and organisations by the social forces that expect to face the attacks by the Sangh Parivar. The Sangh Parivar leadership is doing this in the name of majoritarianism. This trend will have at least two implications as the BJP-RSS are doing this from a position of power.

One, the hegemonic partner of the ruling coalition - the BJP - is making its ideological position absolutely unpredictable. The coalition partners will be forced to take a stand on such issues.

Second, diabolical messages from its associated platforms threaten the insecure minority religious forces further. Bangaru Laxman's statement that Muslims form part of "blood of our (Hindutva forces) blood and flesh of our flesh" is a reflection of its masked face. Read in the historical background of animosity among Hindutva forces and Muslims and now the one deliberately getting built between Christians and Hindutva forces, the BJP is putting its masked face in front in a subtle form.

Since the statement is made by a Dalit leader, it was expected to be perceived by the minorities and the Dalits with a different mindset. This statement is that of the Vajpayee camp within the party. This camp wants to be like the early Indira Gandhi phase of the Congress which ruled India with a vote bank of upper castes, SCs and minorities.

It does not believe in allowing autonomous space for Other Backward Castes in the socio-cultural terrain. Hence, the OBC agenda of Kalyan Singh, Govindacharya and Uma Bharati is completely sidelined by this camp. In terms

of implications, the Vajpayee-Laxman strategy is quite Kautilyan because it is a mode of war that destroys by driving poisoned nails into the enemy's body after inviting him/her for a ball.

The strategy of the Sudarshan-Advani camp is the open "eye-for-eye" kind. This strategy needs the support of the OBCs as it can be used as a "force of muscle" as they did at the time of pulling the Babri Masjid down. This camp seems to think that a unity of the four varnas - Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra - and formation of a stable vote bank out of these four varnas will be long lasting. For them, the SCs are untrustworthy in terms of both religion and politics.

The Advani group always believed in fighting militant battles with minorities. Sudarshan's statement, therefore, was offensive. He said at the RSS meet of Agra that Muslims and Christians must accept that they have inherited the blood of Rama and Krishna. Leave alone the Muslims and Christians, if the Dalits are said to have inherited the blood of Rama and Krishna it is much more offensive than constructing them as "Harijan" (the children of God).

For both Muslims and Christians, such a construction has a deeper spiritual implication. The language of Sudarshan implies that the Muslims and Christians should accept the spiritual fatherhood of Rama and Krishna. For Muslims it is a destructive construction. For them, except Allah nobody - not even Mohammad the Prophet - can be assigned the position of fatherhood. Not just the Indian Muslims, in fact Muslims the world over get offended by the statement of Sudarshan.

For Christians, the status of fatherhood is given only to Jesus Christ. The cardinal principles of religion do not change with the boundaries of the nation. For all denominations of Christians, only Jesus is the Lord and Father. Assigning that position to anybody else is offensive and blasphemous. This sentiment is very deep among those who believe in religions of the book than idol-worshippers. Sudarshan has deliberately decided to injure that belief and the sentiments of Muslims and Christians.

In a Dalit Christian seminar, when a non-Christian-Dalit leader suggested that Ambed-kar's statue must be installed in all Dalit Christian churches the Dalit Christians rejected the proposal in one voice. They were of the opinion that the statues of only Christ and Mary could exist in churches.

They said though they were all devoted Ambedkarites they could not accept this proposal. For Christians, the statement that they should accept Rama and Krishna as their fatherly Gods is unimaginable. This is an affront to their belief and sentiments.

Thus, for Muslims and Christians, the statement of Sudarshan is absolutely offensive. And such a statement was made in the presence of Advani so that an unmasked message should go out. We can see the difference between the masked statement of Laxman and the stark statement of Sudarshan.

Indian Christians or Muslims do share Indian civilisation in all its dimensions. They have their share in constructing the agrarian instruments, tanks, canals and so on. They have contributed their share of labour and knowledge in shaping our pot and wheel and the gamut of technology that we are proud of. Many historical monuments that these two religious forces constructed are proud places of the Indian culture and civilisation.

Leave alone decorative monuments like the Taj Mahal and the Charminar, useful structures like the Andhra Pradesh High Court building, Osmania Hospital and the Arts College building of Osmania University, built by Muslim rulers, stand as highwater marks of our civilisation. All these are common heritage of Muslims and non-Muslims.

The contribution of Christian institutions in terms of spreading Indian English education made all of us - particularly the upper castes and Dalits (not the OBCs so much) - globally enterprising people. Even the Indian food culture from biryani, (no non-Brahmin marriage takes place without it) to cake (that has become part of the birthday celebrations of all middle-class Indians), everything is constructed in a typical Indian mode by both Muslims and Christians.

The Parivar is making perverted demands on absolutely assimilated communities. The ignorance of the Parivar leaders is amazing. Nobody who understands the ethics and principles of religions of the world would do such a thing.

The two faces of the Sangh Parivar, though they have the common objective of power, see the basis for their power differently. The forces that operate very close to Vajpayee-Laxman, Jaswant Singh and so on, appeared to be indifferent to the agenda of pulling down the mosque but benefited from the expanded vote-bank because of that.

The Vajpayee's camp got power for its non-performance during its militant phase. The militant OBCs like Uma Bharati and Narendra of Andhra Pradesh see Bangaru Laxman as non-performing Dalit who is propped up to tame the militant OBCs. For the Vajpayee group, Laxman plays his role within limits and any attack against him can be dubbed as an anti-SC attack which will prove harmful when Christian missionaries are active among the SCs.

Of these two faces of the Sangh Parivar, the Advani-Sudarshan camp wants to set agendas that could lead them to power on their own. Since the large section of OBCs are operating as nuts and bolts of the Hindutva ratha, militancy can take any form and they want to use that force once again.

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