Monday, March 19, 2007

'No Hindu-Muslim polarisation in Gujarat'

M.G. Vaidya, RSS spokesman, writes:

I was surprised to read the report of my press conference in The Hindu on Dec. 17. At the very outset, I had said in my written statement that there was no Hindu-Muslim polarisation in Gujarat. In the next paragraph, I had added "If at all there was any polarisation, it can be said that the polarisation took place between one pole of nationalist forces, delineated by the ideology of Hindutva, that stands for appreciation of plurality, democratic values, justice for all and appeasement of none, and the other pole of Hindu-bashing perverse secularism, which feeds itself on pampering the fissiparous attitudes of religious minorities." Before criticising or raising any questions on this assertion of mine, any unbiased reporter would have quoted my averment in full. On the contrary, your Correspondent put in my mouth, a few words of her choice which I did not utter.

`Hindu', according to us has a cultural connotation. The word does not signify communalism, because Hindu is not just a community or a sect. Hindu does not signify obscurantism, sectarianism, or bigotry. Had it signified these traits, your paper would not have been titled "Hindu". I am curious to know what does the title of your paper signify? Are you proud or ashamed of that title `Hindu'?

I was offering comments on the background of the Gujarat Assembly elections, I did not say that those who did not vote for the BJP were anti-nationalists. That word was the invention of your Correspondent, who did ask me as to the forces that were victorious in Jammu and Kashmir. I replied that I was speaking about the Gujarat elections only. About the question on Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, the Correspondent would and should admit that this question was not asked in the press conference. After the press conference when the question was put to me, I did not reply because some TV men were waiting for me for an interview in English.

In the times of Tilak, RSS was not in existence, so there was no question of his joining or appreciating the RSS. But let no one forget that it was the Lokmanya who started the public celebration of the Ganesh-festival. It was the Lokmanya who started the Shivaji festival also. In Mahatma Gandhi's time also, the RSS was in its infancy. Dr. K.B. Hedgewar, founder of the RSS, was an ardent Congress worker and twice suffered incarceration in British jail. Even Mahatmaji talked about `Ram Rajya'. Did he mean a theocratic state by that term?

Dr. Hedgewar got disillusioned about the Congress when it took the cause of restoration of Khalifa in Turkey. This, you too will admit, undoubtedly was not a secular enterprise. It was out and out a communal demand, that resulted in the fierce atrocities on hapless Hindus especially in Malabar and the N.W.F.P. Besides, whether the Mahatma or Panditji or Sardar agreed or did not agree with the concept of cultural nationalism, the RSS has a right to have its own philosophy which can succinctly be called as Hindu Rashtra. We have been repeating umpteen times, that we make a distinction between the concept of "nation" and "state" and that we are not for a theocratic state.

A state, according to the concept of Hindu Rashtra, is and has to be secular because, the state deals with the mundane matters, and not spiritual, which are the domains of religion. In that very press conference, I said that the word "secular" in the preamble of the Constitution was inserted in the extraordinary circumstances of the infamous emergency in 1976. Was our state not secular before 1976? The secular character of our state is expressed in many Articles like 15, 16 and 19, etc. where it is unambiguously stated that the state shall not discriminate between its citizens on the basis of religion, language, sex, caste or creed. We emphatically assert that this is the core content of our idea of secularism to which we are committed.

But non-discrimination on the basis of religion is flouted in so many ways. Even after more than half a century of independence, we do not have a common law of marriage and divorce, because Muslims are opposed to it. We have Article 370 for J&K because the state has a majority Muslim population. We have an Article 30 (1-A) that gives a fundamental right to compensation for the property of the minority institutions which is denied to the majority community; and till the recent judgment of the Supreme Court, the minority communities had unfettered privilege to establish and administer their educational institutions, get government grants and impart religious instructions. This was denied to the majority community.

When Hindu institutions and organisations raise a voice against such discriminatory rules and practices they are condemned and abused as communal and anti-secular. This, in my statement, I had called as "Hindu bashing perverse secularism". This was pitted against the Hindutva forces in Gujarat. This perverse secularism had prompted the Congress party to get Muslim clerics to issue an advertisement calling upon their religious fraternity to vote for the Congress and the Congress only. I repeat that in Gujarat the fight between the BJP and the Congress was between the Hindutva forces that stand for the equality of all faiths and religions and the forces of the perverse anti-Hindu secularism.

It is possible that you and your Correspondent do not agree to this proposition. As a good Hindu, I accept your right to disagree. My only plea is please be fair in your reporting. You have your whole editorial page to shower criticism on the RSS with or without justification.

Posted by Anonymous to The Chindu at March 17, 2007 9:00 AM

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