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Home > 2024 > Saffron Threats May Scuttle the Gains of Rahul’s Twin Yatras | Arun (...)

Mainstream, VOL 62 No 6 February 10, 2024

Saffron Threats May Scuttle the Gains of Rahul’s Twin Yatras | Arun Srivastava

Friday 9 February 2024


Rahul Gandhi must be feeling gratified and elated at the massive response and support his both Yatras, Bharat Jodo Yatra and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, have elicited from the common people across the country. His idea of love has no doubt attracted the peoples’ fancy. But it is not certain how far he has succeeded in his endeavour to set a new ideological narrative and whether it has really aroused peoples’ passion to combat rightist challenges and threats and make them vote out the RSS sponsored and blessed Modi government from power.

Election is the vital component of real politick which has a very abstract nature of relation with ideology. It is an animalistic reality that element of ideology does not decide the electoral end result. When the RSS and BJP have been taking recourse to Hindutva, religious fanaticism, ruthlessly using the government machinery to finish the secular and socialist forces, at that time the political and ideological approach and orientation ought to be redefined. A new model which suits to the electoral needs has to be evolved.

Only a politically naive would subscribe to the idea that the Yatra is an effective instrument to inspire the common people and pull down the RSS government. Rahul might have succeeded in setting a counter narrative to Modi’s politics of hatred and divisive machinations but the fact remains that his endeavours are yet to make an incisive impact on the psyche of the people and make them get up and think of the damage the rightist philosophy has inflicted upon them and endangered the very foundation of their existence and identity.

It is entirely a wrong concept that RSS is an ideologically driven outfit. A look at its long history of survival and events would make it explicit that it is a despotic and undemocratic organisation working under the garb of being a social and cultural outfit. Through its long journey of 100 years, it has always in the game of politics with many aces under its sleeves. Its basic mission has been to promote ultra-Hindutva but it should be strictly under the control of the Maharashtrian Brahmins, none else. They were basically the motivating factors behind formation of RSS. It was formed with the primary motto to take revenge against the Muslims and the secular forces, those perceived as the major obstacles in their path of growth and expansion.

Obviously it is not enough to motivate the electorate to counter the saffron onslaught. What is most important is to foil the intrigues that are being hatched by the saffron ecosystem. Let us look at the crooked episode which completely transformed the identify and character of the Indian polity and the political institution. Vinod Rai, a bureaucrat was appointed by the Congress led UPA-1 government as the CAG. Before appointing him Dr Manmohan Singh did not go for verifying his credibility and loyalty check. He did it in good faith. But Rai executed RSS’s design. He came out in public with the expose of 2G spectrum scam. Even while presiding as the CAG he told the people that the government of India had incurred a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh Crore by not auctioning the spectrum. His accusation against Manmohan Singh government was based on presumptions, not supported by the facts. The rightist media who was already hostile to Singh, did not question the veracity of his allegations.

Later it transpired that the plot was prepared by the RSS think tank. It was not proverbially a one-night affair. RSS leaders was on the job for months. Even before Rai came out with the expose, RSS used at least three faces to carry the message to the people and make them believe that Congress government was a corrupt government and it was acting against the interest of the people and the country.

Self-styled Gandhian, Anna Hazare went on indefinite hunger strike at Ram Lila Maidan. He did it at the instigation of RSS. He started pressing the UPA government for setting up of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states, besides execution of the Swaminathan Commission report, which has suggested ways to address the agrarian distress. Through his movement he made the middle class people to subscribe RSS theory that Dr Singh government was most corrupt. After seven years of his anti-corruption movement the issue caught the imagination of middle class Indians and defeated the then UPA government. After accomplishing his task Anna Hazare retired to his village and forgot everything about Corruption and Jan-Lokpal.

The second person who played a major role has been Yoga preacher Ramdev. He was elevated to the rank of saint (Baba). He was suitably rewarded by the RSS and BJP. He got heavy discounts from BJP ruled state governments since the Modi Government came to power and today he is the biggest corporate house trading in ayurveda medicines.

The other two persons who lent their support to RSS were Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. Kejriwal had promised; “I will never fight elections in my life. And I don’t want to hold any post in my life, I have no political ambitions…”. But soon after he floated his Aam Admi Party and became the chief minister of Delhi. He is in power for nearly ten years. Kiran Bedi was made the Lt Governor of Puducherry. She conveniently forgot her commitment to fight the menace of corruption.

RSS’s pawn on India’s chess board, Vinod Rai was awarded the most covetable office of chairman of the Banks Board which was established in 2016. The alleged crusader against corruption maintained deafening silence while Rs 11,500 crores scam happened in PNB under his Chairmanship. He was part of greater conspiracy against the UPA 1, especially inimical to Dr Singh, got exposed after he unconditionally apologised to Congress leader from Mumbai Sanjay Nirupam. Rai had apologised for "wrongly mentioning" him as one of the MPs who had pressured him not to name former prime minister Manmohan Singh in the CAG report on 2G spectrum allocation.

To serve the interest of his political masters and RSS he had stooped so low as to endanger and disparage the image and security of the country. An angry Nirupam had filed a defamation case against Rai after he in his book in 2014 made the allegation against him and repeated it in interviews to the media. Later while apologising he told the court in an affidavit "I had inadvertently and wrongly mentioned the name of Sanjay Nirupam as one of the MPs who pressurised me to keep the then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s name out of the CAG report on 2G spectrum allocation during the meetings in the PAC or the sidelines of the JPC".

Nirupam is really a nice guy as he accepted his apology and agreed to the disposal of the case by the court. Nirupam should not have allowed him to go scot-free. Nirupam should have requested the court to sentence him, even for a day for his misdemeanour. Rai has not only lied, instead he had disfigured and maligned the country and the oldest political party of the country. Nirupam at least should have told the court to ask for an apology from him to the entire nation in the same manner that he unconditionally apologized to him.

His lies meant to serve the vested interest of the RSS has literally finished the political carer of DMK politicians A Raja and Kanimozhi. Rai had done his best to eliminate them politically. It was the failure of CBI to produce clinching evidence against them that they were acquitted by the court. Who will pay for the loss they incurred in public life: Anna Hazare, Kejriwal, or BJP/RSS? The worst sufferer has been Dr Singh. He was derided as the most corrupt and ineffective leader. Dr Manmohan Singh has an impeccable record. But a systematic campaign was launched to defame and malign him.

The CBI special court while acquitting all the accused had come out with the most damning observation in the 1,552-page verdict that the “scam” was an entirely fabricated, with gross untruths packaged as facts. In the words of the special court, “a huge scam was seen by everyone where there was none. Some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels.” It is really sad that this rightist propagator went scot-free.

Rai was operating at the instructions of the RSS for deprecating Congress and Dr Singh’s government was evident from the fact that before his retirement he had started acting like an RSS cadre. CAG Rai delivered a short but powerful speech on “Government Accountability is the key to a Vibrant Democracy” at Moneylife Foundation’s 3rd anniversary event in Dadar (Mumbai).

Rai said, “The judiciary ensures horizontal accountability. What we need is vertical accountability, from the citizens, mass media and society in general. We need to remember that we ourselves give the government. If the government doesn’t perform, we have none other than ourselves to blame. But it now looks as if the people are waking up again, as is evidenced by, for example, the reopening of Jessica Lal case. India demonstrated its ability to rise up at the time of independence, then again when democracy was snuffed out in 1975, when the economy was liberalised, and now again. We need to keep this up. There is too much at stake to give up.”

The CAG office was earlier known for its bark. But under Vinod Rai it has acquired the expertise in hatching conspiracies. The conspiracy to bring down the UPA Government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh was executed through India Against Corruption and Vinod Rai, the RSS affiliates and BJP fuelled the propaganda against Dr Singh.

The RSS has also set up Think Tanks Vivekananda International Foundation and India Foundation. India’s super sleuth, NSA chief Ajit Doval runs the show. The task of the Foundation is to set the agenda by feeding wrong information to the intellectuals, academics, bureaucrats and media. Its primary task has been to set a narrative. While Ajit is the founding director of the former, his son, Shaurya, is a director of the latter. The two think tanks have ties RSS.

At the inauguration of VIF in 2009 Doval underlined the need for bringing “the intellectual community in consonance with the spirit of nationalism,” and of encouraging “young, talented research scholars to probe the depths of research in various genre of topics which are very vital to the national interests … so as to elevate India to her right place in the world.” He filled the organisation with retired security bureaucrats and diplomats.

RSS through the VIF launched a major operation to malign Dr Singh and the Congress government with organising a two-day seminar in April 2011. Ramdev, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Subramanian Swamy, Kiran Bedi and the RSS pracharak KN Govindacharya attended the meet. It was after this meet Hazare began has fast against corruption. RSS inducted two members of the VIF Nripendra Misra and PK Mishra to the inner circle of Modi, after he became prime minister.

RSS had to undergo strenuous aerobics to capture the power in 2014. Obviously it would be purely an act of naivete to believe that it would allow the power to slip out of its grip. It has already started the exercises and it must not come as a surprise if it resorts to something mystical just ahead of the D-day. It would be misnomer to believe that RSS would allow the Congress to hit back and grab its base which it had managed to build after so much of efforts and pain.

RSS’s victory at Lok Sabha election is more important and imperative than the win for BJP or Modi. If RSS survives, Modi or BJP will endure. RSS has a dream project for the Hindus of India during its 100 years of existence. A loss will push back the RSS to its position of pre-Independence, which it can not withstand at any cost.

The RSS can go to any extent for winning the election is also evident from Modi and BJP playing the nationalism card and brutal genocide of 40 soldiers in 2019. In 2024 it would go to any extent to entice the voters, either by raising the issue of religious fundamentalism or resorting op some other means. It is worth recalling that just before the 2019 Lok Sabha election a situation hostile to Modi was surfacing across the country. The people were disenchanted with his style of Modi’s governance. They desired a change. The think tank of the RSS must be complemented for their quick realisation that the situation was slipping out of their hand, and to salvage the situation the saffron ecosystem resorted to fanning ultra-nationalism. If the RSS had not resorted to that machination and made the BJP to follow its line, the BJP would certainly not have returned to the power in 2019.

In 2024 the situation is quite different from 2019. The RSS has come to realise that nationalism cannot be used as the triumph card for the third time. It will not work. Apparently it is banking on religion. RSS is desperate. So is Modi. In their nervousness they are experimenting with many ideas and possibilities. An insight into rewarding the highest honour Bharat Ratna to Lal Krishna Advani would abundantly make it explicit that the RSS and Modi are exploring to raise the religious passion.

It is inexplicable to discuss whether Lal Krishna Advani the ironman of the BJP and the person who strived to shape his mission for construction of Ram Mandir into as the basic ideology of the saffron ecosystem, should have been honoured with the prestigious gift of Bharat Ratna. The fact is he has been rewarded and what is most important to note is the timing; when he was rewarded. It is the puzzle what forced Narendra Modi to reward him, certainly not an honour, at this crucial juncture when the country will be going to polls probably in April, to elect a new government.

The most significant allegory that awaits for decoding is why Karpoori Thakur was honoured with Bharat Ratna at least 20 days ahead of rewarding Advani. No doubt it is the discretion of the rulers, who they should honour or reward keeping in view their political relevance. In both the cases the political imperative ranked high than any other reason. In the past two most important Indians, who helped the country earn global recognition and prestige—J. Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai—were not conferred with this honour. People felt immensely hurt. But it did not move the political institution and the rulers. There are many other stalwarts who have been denied this honour.

Of the two let us begin with Karpoori Thakur. He might not have been bestowed with this honour, if Modi had not faced with an electoral ambiguity. Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat during ten years of BHP rule have been pursuing the task of reaching out to the OBCs, EBCs, and Dalits. They have been clubbed them with their Hindu fraternity. They strongly nursed the view that their consecration of Ram Mandir would win over them and make sure they vote for the BJP. Since it did not appear to be happening, they changed their track

Their desperation was so acute that the person who they treated as pariah and for whom the door of the party was shut, as publicly announced by Modi’s lieutenant Amit Shah , Nitish Kumar, was once again won over and projected as their hero of the backwards. In faft Thakur was offered Bharat Ratna at the behest of Nitish, for simply galvanising and bolstering his image. For Modi image matters most and people of India notwithstanding facing acute poverty and loss of job, would prefer to vote on image syndrome. Bhagwat and Modi appropriated Thakur by honouring him.

But the case with nonagenarian BJP leader L K Advani is quite different. Even after virtually leading the life of an outcast in the party and being completely marginalised in the saffron ecology by RSS, Modi rewarding Bharat Ratna to Advani has wider implication. If Modi had not honoured Thakur, he might not have to reward Advani. This enraged a significant section of the party rank and file. After Advani was pushed to the club of Margdarshaks, these leaders kept quiet. But for the first time simmering discontent emerged after Modi ignored him on January 22, at the event of consecration.

If the sources are to be relied it was after honouring Thakur that not only BJP leaders and cadres but a section of the RSS cadres questioned this action of Modi. They conveyed their anguish to Bhagwat and even told that it would not be feasible undertake electoral responsibilities in the prevailing political scenario. “Let Modi use his image and win the elections” was their clear message. Already the senior leaders of the BJP were feeling slighted at the manner in which Advani was being treated by RSS and Modi.

It is an open secret that the party is vertically split in almost all the states, between the turncoats and old loyal cadres. Some senior leaders openly criticise Modi’s mechanism to terrorise his political rivals by using ED, CBI and IT against them. They firmly hold that the strategy pursued by Modi has been basically against the ethos and culture of the BJP. These leaders nevertheless are highly critical of the RSS leadership. They point out that the BJP could not have come to power in 2014, if Advani had embarked on Rath Yatra. He has been pushed to the periphery, and what is worse his contribution to the party’s growth and expansion is not being acknowledged. These leaders say that the leaders and cadres have been keeping an watch on the developments. In the past they did not raise their voice. But it is his complete neglect that has forced them to speak.

Nonetheless the party leaders also hold the view that since the party is depending on the slogan of Hindutva and religious issues to woo the voters projecting Advani as the face of Hindutva would benefit it. Notwithstanding Modi nursing detestation and incompatible attitude towards Advani, RSS and BJP cannot ignore the basic fact that Advani was the first Hindu Hridaya Samrat by launching his mission to build Ram mandir.

Ever since Advani praised Jinnah, the RSS leaders had turned hostile towards him. His comments on Jinnah’s secularism in 2005 drew sharp criticism from the party. They sent Sanjay Joshi to the Delhi to demand that Advani withdraw his comments. Organisational records point out that Advani had resigned at least seven times for his audacity to go against the wishes of RSS. All the BJP leaders stood together on the issue of "no deviation from ideology" and went along with the RSS position that there could be no question of re-evaluating Jinnah or his role in Partition.

During his visit to Pakistan he had signed the visitor’s book with a flourish and asked his speechwriter Sudheendra Kulkarni to fax a copy of his defining words he had ever scribbled in his life to Delhi and release to the media. Though RSS was quite cut up, Advani maintained; "I have not said or done anything in Pakistan which I need to retract or review".

What is quite interesting to watch is though RSS has not been inclined during these years to project him as the Hindutva face of the party, it also did not condemn his rath Yatra which triggered country wide communal riot in which not less 2000 persons, mostly Muslims, were killed. Almost all the senior leaders who were suspect in the eyes of Modi were shown the door. In August, 2014, Advani, still an MP, was thrown out of the BJP Parliamentary Board, along with veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi. In June 2015, Advani said Emergency could not be ruled out “as forces that can crush democracy have become stronger”. However the then then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley came to the rescue of Modi saying at an event, without naming Advani, that Emergency was no longer possible

It is entirely a wrong notion Modi that was trying to take out Advani from the dubious Margdarshak Mandal and resurrect him by conferring him with the Bharat Ratna. It is purely an attempt to calm down the anger gripping the rank and file against discrimination meted out to him, just ahead of Lok Sabha election. Modi and Bhagwat have come to comprehend that the resentment and disgust prevailing in the rank and file would inflict danger to the party’s electoral prospect.

Incidentally Advani had moved the resolution for construction of Ram Mandir at Palampur meet of the two day national executive meeting of the party held in 1989, after nine years of the formation of BJP. Advani had moved the resolution in the presence of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi and Vijayaraje Scindia. Ironically Joshi and Scindia have been sidelined. It was just after the meeting that Advani piloted his majoritarian narrative of Hindutva by launching Rath Yatra.

Meanwhile Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday took a succinct jibe at the BJP saying that Advani was being presented the Bharat Ratna for the reason that the saffron party’s "votes do not get scattered. It is not being given in respect.”

The INDIA bloc and especially Rahl Gandhi should have to be most cautious. His Bharat Jodo Yatra and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra have certainly set counter narrative, made the people ponder over the designs and machinations of the RSS and B JP, but they, especially the middle class, the creator of perception, is yet to come out of the intoxicant mindset of Hindutva. The unemployment is on steep rise, the on campus appointment of the passing out graduates has virtually stopped, inflation is systematically soaring, but ironically for the middle class and lower middle class people religion continues to be most intoxicating and relevant issue.

The opposition leaders must have to do some introspection whether they are sincere to project the INDIA as the effective weapon to counter the strategic aggression of the saffron ecosystem, specifically their clash of ego and differences on seat sharing would benefit the INDIA or smoothen the victory path for RSS and BJP. In this backdrop the obstinate approach of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee strengthens the element of suspicion, about her real intentions. Nitish Kumar the avowed propagator of opposition unity made a somersault just three months ahead of the final battle.

Being the leader of the biggest opposition party Rahul has to keep a close watch on the machinations and scheming of the saffron ecosystem. Else his entire effort and gruelling yatra he undertook would go in vain. The opposition must have to keep a watchful eye on the actions of RSS. It is famous for its secretive actions and planning. None could comprehend of their future move. Besides acquainting the people of the damaging effect of RSS’s policies and Modi’s move to impair Yatras, Rahul also has a major task before him; he has to take other constituents of INDIA in confidence. Mamata or some other leaders may not comprehend and make out the damaging effect of Modi’s and RSS’s policies on the body politick of the country.

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