By Abu Asim
Congress is facing an unprecedented existential crisis. With the passage of time, the party is losing relevance in the country as from one State after another it has been meeting with extinction. After defeat in 2019 Lok Sabah elections, first allies left and then started the exodus of party leaders. And now the captain Rahul Gandhi has himself left the ship in choppy waters at the mercy of god.
But isn’t the fact that the Grand Old Party which had spearheaded the Freedom Movement is reaping what it had cultivated during the colonial and Independent India!
People who do not agree with this statement, must open the pages of our country’s history and read it carefully.
Actually, the way BJP now invokes the Mahabharata and Ramayana to give religious look to its political campaign, the heroes of the Freedom Movement would use the same techniques and methods against the British rule.
In other words, we can say that the BJP replicated the same method to ascend the throne of Delhi which was used by our great freedom fighters for the freedom of India.
In Maharashtra, Ganapati festivals were organised at a grand scale. Though the aim of the festival apparently was to give a push to the Freedom Movement and spread the message to a wide range of people, they also aimed at targeting Muslims of the State. As such, these festivals became an occasion for Muslims-Hindus clash for its provocative slogans against the minorities. Shivaji, who had fought Mughals, used to be the big draw of festivals.
Similarly, the poem Bande Mataram, which the freedom fighters had adopted as their anthem, was actually drawn from a rabidly anti-Muslim novel, Anandmath.
The moral teachings of the Hindu variety thus went hand in hand with political propaganda, and nationalism was presented in religious raiment, as one historian put it.
It was Swaraj, not self-government. It was Satyagraha, not non-co-operation; it was Ram Rajya, not the government of people, which they set as the goal of Indian nationalism. It was Bharatmata, not the motherland, to which the people bore obedience.
So they sanctified politics but made it a social version of the Hindu faith. The masses followed the freedom fighters because they considered them saints, not because they were simply the nationalist leaders.
However, the top leadership of the Freedom Movement was sincere towards the aim of kicking out the British from India and founding an independent and secular country where everybody would be equal before the law.
Meanwhile, the freedom struggle picked up momentum and India marched toward freedom. Everywhere the slogan of ‘Angrezon Bharat Chhodo’ (British quit India) resounded. People were in high spirits. They believed that when British would leave the country they would be master of their own destiny and power would be in their hands.
At the same time, a section of Congress leaders never thought about sharing the spoils of freedom with Muslims. In fact, for them the freedom struggle aimed at the expulsion of the British from India and the replacement of the British Raj by a Hindu Raj which did not have any place for Muslims though they never said openly and swear by secularism and equal rights to all citizens of the country.
These leaders, side by side, raised an army of Sevaks who would take on Muslims who were demanding a quota of seats in municipal corporations, assemblies and Parliament with a Constitutional assurance for their defence which was unacceptable to the freedom fighters. They said they would not tolerate any kind of concession to Muslims. They argued that any concession to Muslims would be countered tooth and nail as the initiative would weaken the Freedom Movement.
This very thing alienated a large section of Muslims. They felt that they were not getting, and would not get, a fair deal at the hands of the majority Hindus in Independent India which resulted in partition of the country.
After Independence, the freedom fighters were now rulers of the country. To give the egalitarian look to their government, they embraced the Shudras(Dalits) whom they did not consider better than their livestock since the time immemorial.
These Shudras were given reservation in both government jobs and education, and many welfare schemes were introduced for them, and nobody was objecting as people were atoning for the suppression and atrocities they had meted out on the very aborigines of the country by giving them special treatment.
And, this very reservation facility, which was earlier being demanded by the Muslims before the Partition, now has no opposition either from the people in general or the legislature, the media or the Supreme Court- as it has gradually covered all sections of the Hindu community.
There is no denying that the majority of people did not want the annihilation of Muslims, still, they would not like seeing them prospering and living with their heads held high.
Therefore, on one hand, Muslims were denied opportunities, on the other, they were consigned to communal fire that was lit to weaken them financially and socially. The communal riots only targeted the cities where Muslims were financially strong. They were reduced to a bunch of hungry paupers.
Honestly speaking, invoking religion has been a rallying point for the leaders belonging to all faiths to gather a crowd and convey the message to all followers of the respective religion. Whenever they want to exhort the people to do something big they invoke some legend or some incident from the history of the nation.
But can we sacrifice the law at the altar of religion since the accused belongs to a particular community? The constitution says that all citizens are equal before the law irrespective of their caste, creed and language. The tragedy is that the respective governments always see an accused as Hindu and Muslim.
Where ever communal riots would occur, the Prime Ministers from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and even Manmohan Singh, would condemn the communal forces for the violence. At the same time, the successive Congress governments or any so-called secular regime never took action against those Sevaks responsible for arson and riot as they belonged to the Hindu community and they were doing a great service to the nation by creating a new crop of Shudras in modern India.
Therefore, no policeman ever fired at these Sevaks for looting and killing helpless Muslims nor any court dared to order their hanging nor any newspaper or news channel called them terrorists.
But time changed. The Sevaks who had been doing the bidding of the ruling Congress party, thought that they should no longer obey their master’s dictate. Therefore, the ambitious Sevaks, who call themselves Swayam Sevaks (those who only serve themselves), plunged into the political arena in earnest and aimed at ruling the vast country stretched out before them.
However, to gain power and win the votes of people, they had to give a new narrative to the nation. The stale slogans of secularism and democracy were the ones they abhorred but had to use the latter to serve their purpose as it is the people who decide who will rule the country.
Initially, they had no success as the hangover of the Freedom Struggle was still fresh and Congress was the only party that was attached to that movement, and also Britain was still an enemy in people’s mind. Therefore, they did not give importance to their anti-Muslim catch calls. As a result, the Swayam Sevaks could not win enough seats to form government at the Centre or in States.
Since Congress was an umbrella party, the leaders and workers of all hues preferred to take shelter under it. Nevertheless, many leaders of the secular party had the same opinion about Muslims as the Swayam Sevaks. They made the same policies as the Swayam Sevaks.
In schoolbooks, lessons against Muslim rulers and their culture were introduced to poison innocent minds. And thus what the Sevaks could not do from outside, the schools did easily.
Consequently, the poison against Muslims gradually seeped into the mind and hearts of people. Though people voted for the Congress and other similar political parties, their opinion about Muslims was the same as was of the Swayam Sevaks since they were pass outs of the same school of hatred.
And this way the army of Swayam Sevaks expanded with the passage of time and also changed the political landscape of the country.
They presented themselves as the group which came into existence to revive the declined Hindu culture and make Hindus strong to face the forces against the community.
To counter the rising force of Swayam Sevaks, Congress adopted the soft Hindutva avatar which always boomeranged on them. Then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi got the Babri Masjid unlocked and allowed worship of the idol of Rama, which was planted in the mosque in 1949 when his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru was ruling the country. And finally, the same Congress party had the 400-year-old historical mosque demolished by the Swayam Sevaks in broad daylight on December 2, 1992 to appease the growing BJP supporters and present itself as a party no different from the rival BJP.
In the age of so-called war on terror waged by America against the Islamic countries, the Indian government in association with pliant media declared its share of Muslims terrorists. Initially, they were called agents of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and other terrorist organizations like Laskhare Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, and now dubbed as the representatives of the Islamic State and Al Qaida.
This gave the half-lettered policemen a short-cut to get a promotion out of turn. They would arrest or kill innocent Muslim youths and declare them the ISI or Lashkare Taiba agents.
Interestingly, when Congress came to power at the Centre in 2004, some naïve Muslims thought that the secular regime would outlaw the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and their sister organizations for carrying out genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in the supervision of then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.
But to their surprise, the central government instead extended the ban on the Muslim students’ organization, SIMI, which was imposed by the previous BJP government. Five times the UPA government told the Supreme Court that the organization was a threat to the nation though it failed to produce any evidence before the tribunal to justify the ban.
Thus, the hypocritical attitude of the so-called secular governments only emboldened the Swayam Sevaks who grew from strength to strength. Not only the Congress government, but the whole party was caught in the trap laid by the Swayam Sevaks.
Now they had to put up a show to prove that they were equally Hindu and nationalist as the BJP leaders. Congress leaders sacrificed every principle for what the party had earlier stood for. They remained silent spectator to the rising atrocities on the Muslim citizens across the country. To destroy the Congress party politically, the Swayam Sevaks stepped up attacks on Muslims on one pretext or the other. If the Congress leaders made any effort to condemn it, the Swayam Sevaks would say, “See these people are supporting the terrorists”.
The religion that was earlier used to gather masses of the country for the sublime cause of freedom from colonial powers, was now used for capturing power at the Centre and in States.
In this freedom movement, the enemy is not British or some alien group but Muslims. This anti-Muslim rhetoric has overwhelmed every movement and demolished every barrier including the ages old caste system. Along with Muslims, this anti-Muslim wave also swept away the Congress and other so-called secular parties which, in Swayam Sevaks’ words, appease the minorities.
Thus the army of Swayam Sevaks that the Congress leaders had raised during colonial India and strengthened it to suppress helpless Muslims, finished its masters in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, perhaps for forever, as the trends suggest.
So, what future now the Great Old Party has? As the current tendency suggests that the fig leaves of secularism and socialism or justice for all that had been used to fool the people have lost their shelf life in India. Then what should it do?
There are two options before the party. One is to stand up and declare that yes, it had come into existence for the sublime cause of freedom and rose against suppression and atrocities of any hue. Earlier it was fighting the cruel British rule and now it fights the communal and fascist rule of the BJP and for the rights of minorities which have been trampled by pseudo-nationalists.
The other way out in this communal and religiously charged atmosphere is that the Congress party emulates the political parties of Israel. Whatever name they have, their value depends on how many bombs have they dropped on Palestinians.
In other words, Congress should also join openly the bandwagon of Muslim-bashers without any shame. If the party leaders do not join this ant-Muslim campaign, they will be declared anti-national, anti-Hindu, pro-terrorists and what not.
Look at these smart politicians. The MPs, MLAs and even locality level leaders of the party aren’t hesitating to change their stripe from secular to communal. In Goa recently, sensing which way the wind is blowing in the country, in 40-member Assembly, 10 Congress MLAs joined the ruling BJP. Similarly, in Karnataka, several legislators of the party burnt the ship of the secular coalition and joined the saffron party, though they very well knew what BJP stands for.
This is the arrangement for the Congress. And what will happen to our last Mughal of Gandhi Family, Rahul Gandhi. He should emulate the strategy of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy and Myanmar’s incumbent State Counselor, a position akin to a prime minister in the Myanmar government.
The Nobel Laureate had been under the house arrest for more than 15 years for advocating democracy in Army-ruled country. Sensing no light at the end of the tunnel, she sided with the Army and gave legitimacy to the genocide of Rohingya Muslims of the country.
Therefore, like Suu Kyi, Rahul Gandhi should also choose a middle path to remain relevant in the Hindu Rashtra. He should request prominent Swayam Sevak and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to given him employment in his government and appoint him the Foreign Minister of India.
Whenever some communal riots occur or people of Kashmir Valley are blinded with pellet guns and the United Nations and foreign media raise hue and cry about human rights violation in the country, Rahul will be there to defend the Indian government.
And when he is asked about violence against Muslims in India, he would just shrug his shoulders and say, “Violence? What are you talking about? Who was killed? I don’t know about any Indian who was killed unjustly recently?“
The interviewer would elaborate, “We are talking about Tabrez Khan who was killed for not chanting Jai Shri Ram and Pahlu Khan who was killed for cow slaughter and Kashmiri youths missing in the eerie presence of security forces in the Valley.”
Rahul would reply instantly, “Oh, those people. Don’t call them Indians. I am sorry to say they are all Pakistanis. They are living illegally in India.”