Friday, 25 September 2020

Playing With Fire

Updated: June 25, 2011 1:38 pm

In its ongoing tussle with crusaders like Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, the Congress-led central government has displayed two dangerous fascist trends. BJP President Nitin Gadkari is obviously wrong when he says that people should not take Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh seriously as “I doubt about his mental health”. Given the fact that the Congress spokesmen and central ministers such as Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram have been emphatic that “the party and the government have one voice”, I take Digvijay Singh’s assertion very seriously—that came before Baba Ramdev’s protest against corruption in Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds was brutally suppressed—that “the Congress is never scared of Ramdev. Had it been sacred, he would have been in jail long ago”.

            As I write this, the government has opened all sorts of cases against Baba Ramdev. Everything concerning him—the land acquired by his ashram in various places, the nature of donations to his trust, antecedents of his trusted lieutenants and the medical quality of his herbal products—is under scrutiny. None other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the government is collecting all the information possible about the “controversial” Baba so that necessary actions will be taken against him.

            Just imagine whether all this would have happened had Baba Ramdev agreed to the government’s assurances soon after he arrived in Delhi? After all, Ramdev was courted by four senior ministers of the Manmohan Singh government and was given all the carrots to call of his fast unto death in the assembly of his followers at the Ramlila Grounds. Only when the negotiations went awry did the stick come and the government forcibly evicted the Baba and his supporters. And now, it is leaving no stone unturned to prove that Baba Ramdev is a hardcore criminal.

            The first point that I want to underscore is that I have no problem with the laws of the land. He or she who violates the laws of the country must be punished, howsoever important he or she may be. But the Congress government’s recipe is little different. As long as you agree with the party and the government, you, even if you are a criminal, are safe. The moment you oppose the party and the government, you will be put in jail. In the process, even if you are not a criminal, everything will be done by the government and its various agencies to prove that you are a criminal. Thank you Digvijay Singh and the Prime Minister! You have made us wiser about the fascist mindset of your party and the government.

            The second trend displayed by the Manmohan Singh government is equally dangerous. At the moment, this particular trend may look ludicrous, but if allowed a free run, it will prove extremely dangerous for the country’s unity and integrity. It may be recalled that in between 1967 and 1977, every problem that this country faced was attributed by the then Congress government, led by Mrs Indira Gandhi, and its Communist allies to the three-lettered word, “CIA” (Central Intelligence Agency of the United States). The late Jaiprakash Narayan, who led the mass movement against the government, was branded a CIA agent. And soon after the notorious “Emergency”, taking away all our civil rights, was imposed under the pretext of saving the country from “the CIA agents”. Their fellow travellers, all opposition leaders of the time, were sent to jail.

            Similarly, what we see today is that everything that discomforts the Congress and the Manmohan Singh government is attributed to another three-lettered word, “the communal” RSS and its “political wing”, the BJP. Thus, the government sees Hazare and Ramdev as propagating the RSS agenda. The other day, the party effortlessly “solved” the mystery of the person who showed shoes at its principal spokesman by branding the intruder as a RSS man, though, in reality, he had nothing to do with that organisation and had a proven record of mental disturbance, for which he had been sacked by all his past employers.

            In any case, a burning issue confronting the country does not lose relevance just because the RSS supports it. I find it surprising that the government is not banning the RSS and BJP, as they are “communal”. Since our Constitution is deeply committed to “secularism” and nobody can contest elections and hold public offices unless they are secular (communal parties are not recognised by the Election Commission), how is it that the BJP is ruling in many important states and not long ago led the central government? I also find it equally bizarre that neither the RSS nor BJP has gone to the court to restrain, once and for all, the likes of the Congress in their liberal use of the word “communal” against them. This is not to suggest that I agree with everything that the RSS does. I cannot understand its obsession with the word “Hindu”, which is of Arabic origin and has nothing to do with our history and civilisation, which, in reality, were linked with “Bharat”.

            Similarly, I do not agree with many of the demands of Ramdev and Hazare; I find them highly simplistic and impractical in this age of globalisation. I detest equally Baba’s latest call for armed volunteers. But in essence, his crusade against black money is absolutely right. According to data from RBI, our country has a GDP of approximately Rs 60 lakh crore and a money circulation of approximately Rs 8 lakh crore. This means we have a 13.33 per cent money circulation. If we take a simple conservative figure that every note changes 20 hands in a year, it means that Re1 generates a GDP of Rs 20. So, Rs 8 lakh crore should be generating a GDP of Rs 160 lakh crore. So where has the Rs 100 lakh crore gone? And mind you, this figure of 20 hand-changes of a note during a year is very conservative. If we take it to be 50 then our GDP should be a massive amount of Rs 400 lakh crore, meaning Rs 340 lakh crore of money is missing from our economy! So where is this excess money, which, in effect, is black money? If they are in foreign banks, should not the government bring it back? That is the question Ramdev is legitimately asking. Besides, if countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, Russia, South Korea are maintaining a currency circulation of 3 per cent to 4 per cent, why does our country have a circulation of 13 per cent? Baba has another valid question.

            The Congress government, instead, is trying to evade the whole issue in the name of fighting communalism. It is using, rather successfully, the wellknown fascist tactic that a lie, repeated hundred times, becomes truth. No wonder why many of our leading intellectual elites really consider Baba Ramdev as communal. Of course, we are not going to see a repeat of Emergency days, given the amended constitutional safeguards, under a no-Congress government in 1977. But what could change the present ludicrous behaviour of the Congress to a serious one is if, in the process of being obsessed with communalism, the party transforms itself to an out and out anti-Hindu party by identifying itself only to the minority, precisely Muslim, causes. All these years, the Congress has been wooing the Muslims by supporting Muslim Personal Law, Article 370, the Masjid issue in Ayodhya and now communal reservations. The Muslim-centric political parties such as Indian Union Muslim League and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen are the best allies of the Congress today.

            In fact, with new ethos of constitutional privilege to the minority communities, the Congress Party has made the Muslims more important than they were in British India. Remember Manmohan Singh’s “famous” remark once that the Muslims have got a bigger share in the national cake. See Congress Party’s inaction in identifying the guilty of the train blasts in Mumbai in 2006 that killed more than 200 people, but its overreaction to the alleged “Hindu” role in masjid blasts in Hyderabad, Malegaon and Jaipur. In short, the Congress is virtually vindicating the divisive policy of the British Raj by recognising the political distinctiveness of the Muslims, which is contrary to the democratic concept in a pluralistic society of India, where Muslims, or any other minority community, can be as equal and proud as the majority community.

            Worst of all, the Congress supreme Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council wants to bring out a legislation named “The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011”, which smacks of hate and virulent animosity towards the majority community. According to this Bill, the victim can be anybody but a Hindu. Among other dangerous provisions, Clause 8 of the said Bill says : “Hate propaganda—Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, whoever publishes, communicates or disseminates by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise acts inciting hatred causing clear and present danger of violence against a group or persons belonging to that group, in general or specifically, or disseminates or broadcasts any information, or publishes or displays any advertisement or notice, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate an intention to promote or incite hatred or expose or is likely to expose the group or persons belonging to that group to such hatred, is said to be guilty of hate propaganda.”

            What this means is that after this Bill becomes a law, I could be sent to jail for writing this column! Is not the Congress playing with fire?

By Prakash Nanda

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