Turning India into a “Hindu Rashtra” is the age-old dream of the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP. They have spared no effort to this end. If they could not succeed, it was only because of the lack of an enabling political atmosphere. Now, the president and the prime minister are volunteers of the Sangh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha and a working majority in the Rajya Sabha, hence they see no reason why the realization of their dream should be delayed. It was in pursuance of this objective that Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution were rendered ineffectual and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 was enacted. The latter is a particularly sinister move towards making India a “Hindu Rashtra” under the thumb of Savarna men. That is why it needs to be opposed tooth and nail. The people of India have to prove that they are capable of and willing to protect the democratic fabric of the country. Otherwise, they would be forced to living under the curse of the domination of Savarna men in a Hindu Rashtra. Until now, the BJP government had not done anything concrete that could be unambiguously described as anti-Muslim. However, with the CAA, the cat is out of the bag and the BJP’s anti-Muslim stance stands exposed. It is imperative to oppose CAA as it is designed not only to alienate the Muslims but also to crush the voices of protest against Dwij (upper-caste) dominance.
Since its birth, the BJP has been dead set against democratic system of governance in India. Its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), does not accept the Constitution of India. It rejects democratic values such as liberty, equality and fraternity as “Western ideas”. It has no faith in the Indian Constitutional ethos. When he was the prime minister, BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee had even constituted the “National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution”. However, its report was turned down by the then President K.R. Narayanan. “We have to consider whether it is the Constitution that has failed us or whether it is we who have failed the Constitution,” Narayanan had remarked.
That forced the BJP to change tack. Now, instead of attempting to rewrite the Constitution, it is trying to throttle its very spirit. The Ram Temple agitation, abrogation of Article 370 and demand for a Uniform Civil Code – all were violative of the spirit of the Constitution. As part of series of these efforts, the BJP has now taken this step which is clearly an assault on the basic spirit of the Constitution. CAA 2019 is a serious blow to India’s secular ethos – the pillar on which our democratic polity rests.
The right to citizenship is an enabling right in the sense that if a person is deprived of his right to citizenship, he is automatically deprived of all his fundamental rights, too. He would become a “stateless” person. The plight of these individuals or communities would be akin to that of the Untouchables before the advent of the British rule in India. They would have to do the work assigned to them and unquestioningly accept whatever is paid to them as wages. They would neither have the right to choose their profession nor the right to be compensated for the work they do. The Dalits are very well aware of what this means. They have faced it during the rule of the Peshwas. The BJP considers the reign of the Peshwas as an ideal form of governance and wants to re-establish Peshwai under another name in India.
The BJP is no respecter of individual freedom. It does not believe in the concept that for the State, an individual is not the means, but the end. For the party, individuals are only the means. That is why Amit Shah talks of laying down one’s life for the nation at the drop of a hat – even though no one in the past seven generations of his family would have sacrificed their life for their country. Modi and Shah presenting themselves as the “givers” is ample proof that they do not believe in the sovereignty of the individual.
Addressing the Constituent Assembly, Babasaheb emphasized the principle of one-man-one-vote. This principle is not an arithmetical proposition. What it means is that every person is free and sovereign. This principle is not about elections alone – it is meant to be extended to all spheres of life. But for the BJP, people are just numbers, with no reasoning power, no thoughts and no wishes – veritable machines. The one-man-one-vote principle also means that every individual is entitled to the same respect, freedom and dignity as the majority. In a democracy, the majority has to be respected. But it does not mean that the minority should be crushed. Let us learn from history. Let us recall that Socrates and Galileo were condemned to death by the majority. But history proved that they were right. Instead of drawing lessons from history, the BJP wants to change history itself.
As of now, Indian society and democracy are far too strong for the BJP to unveil its communal agenda in full. As Premchand had famously remarked, “Communalism feels so ashamed moving about openly that before venturing out, it wears the cloak of culture.” The CAA has exposed the ugly communal agenda of the BJP. This is a godsend for the democratic forces to peel off the mask from the faces of the BJP and the Sangh. This will be possible only by building popular pressure. The parties engaged in parliamentary politics won’t be able to do this on their own. Non-political social and democratic organizations would have to join forces with them. Otherwise, we would be condemned to face the catastrophic consequences of Hindu Raj for several generations to come. CAA has already laid its foundations.
Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil
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