Even the BJP’s staunchest supporters must be wincing. Or maybe not. Maybe the core BJP’s core voters are actually enthused that they have not one, but two “mahaan netas” (cannot say “great leaders” any longer!) of the party. As if Narendra Modi wasn’t mahaan enough, there is now also the added bonus of having Rajnath Singh as the President! In 21st century India, the appeal of a 17th century party must be something!
When she came to power, Mamata Banerjee had stunned everybody by “de-positioning” the Left and occupying a place even farther left. In the same way, the Modi-Rajnath combination has made even the regressive Shiv Sena look terribly liberal in contrast. So much so that Uddhav Thackeray has indicated (yet again) that Modi cannot be the next PM! How long before even the most bigoted of all Indian decides “thus far and no further”.
And why are we surprised at all with this “English is the root cause of all problems” argument? Just a few months back, I had written about the BJP-Shiv Sena run BMC’s belief that scantily dressed mannequins (honestly!) also led to a cultural problem (“Now BJP wants a dress code for mannequins – May 30th, 2013). Then on June 26th, another right-wing party, the MNS (a “natural ally” of the BJP) had proposed that Malabar Hills be renamed…..guess what….“Ramnagari”! So this kind of old fashioned crap is well known of the right-wingers. Now when Rajnath Singh complains of English, he is also effectively arguing for a Hindi-dominated India.
Did I say a few months back that the BJP really was just a regional party pretending to be a national one? Well, no matter what the BJP voter thought of that, and going by the hate tweets I got after the post, I know exactly what he/she did(!),Rajnath Singh certainly agrees with me. He has endorsed my view that the BJP belongs almost exclusively to the Western part of India (Gujarat, MP, Chhatisgarh, sometimes Goa). And on a few lucky breaks and with the help of a few partners, a little bit of the North (UP, Punjab, Rajasthan) and East (Bihar). End of story. The party hardly has a presence in the South and the East (some 15 states or so). If this reality is not known to the party President, who could it be known to? Rajnath is indeed right. English is the problem! And Hindi is the solution.
But honestly, what’s so shocking about Rajnath’s statement. Just look at the RSS, the mother and father (“mai baap” in Rajnath’s lingo!) of the BJP and the mania with Hindi and Sanskrit becomes clear. I mean, who except the “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh” could call it’s President “sarsanghchalak”?! (South Indians be damned!). And oh by the way, if it’s the RSS’s women’s wing, the chief is called “Pramukh Sanchalika”! And the next in charge is “Pramukh Karyavahika”! And then there are the sister outfits of the RSS/BJP: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (it’s in the full form that followers like to call their organization….not abbreviated to VHP), Bajrang Dal (straight out of Ramayana!) and the ever-unbelievable Durga Vahini (OMG OMG OMG!). Even their student’s wing is called Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad (take that!). And the trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Union (why not “Sangathan” or something I wonder!). When I think of these titles, the Samajwadi Party or the Janata Dal come to mind, but then again, the BJP is just another claimant to the Regional or Hindi tag! In contrast, the Congress’s bodies are called the All India Trade Union Congress, and the National Students Union of India. How un-Indian!
So lets project and see what kind of campaign Rajnath Singh will mount for himself. I am a Hindi. I am a nationalist. I am a Hindi nationalist! Please Rajnathji, run this campaign in the South and East of India also!
Of course the BJP will say “we are for all Indian languages, not just Hindi”. Our opposition is to English. Blah blah. We know exactly what they mean. If they had any other intent, why are their leadership positions not named in Tamil or Telugu or Bengali or Punjabi???
But coming back to the BJP voter base, I am shocked to notice that it includes several well educated and liberal minded urban elites. What must these people be telling themselves? That I support a party that believe in Hinduism and Brahminism as its umbra (the “center”), and Hindi and Sanskrit as its penumbra (next to the center)? Do these voters have any Muslim and Christian friends at all who they care for? Do they have non-Hindi speaking acquaintainces at all? What must be the phobia in their heads about their religion that inspite of being the overwhelming majority (80%+) they feel insecure about it? I was a BJP supporter (of sorts) when the party showed its right-of-center economic slant, but even that has vanished now. I wish someone could solve my predicament – in the countless attacking tweets this post will no doubt get!
Fortunately, the BJP has been attacked for this archaic mindset. The TOI reports: “Dalit ideologue Chandrabhan Prasad also criticized Rajnath Singh, saying the BJP was opposed to the English language as it is at odds with modernity itself. “All things Indian by tradition, be it caste, social structure or political structure, have stopped India from growing into a modern society. If English is eliminating tradition, it is also eliminating a culture that is caste-driven,” he said.” So well said Mr. Prasad!
The real truth no doubt is that the BJP – under Rajnath and Modi – is driving an overtly divisive campaign. It has decidedly forgotten Vajpayee’s moderate thinking. The party is strongly pulling at the Hindu heartstrings, and as a back-up, the Hindi pride as well. So now we know. This country doesn’t only belong to the Hindus. That it does. But they must also speak Hindi!