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Anti-Congress need not equal pro-BJP

By Ranjona Banerji

One has to admire how so many great fans of the Indian prime minister are a bit upset by the Hindutva turn his government and party are taking. Several columnists, both patriotic Indians who live elsewhere and nationalistic Indians who live in India, are not happy with murderous cow protection squads, violent moral police and so on. They had so far been happy with everything the current government had done. Or that is, they pretended to be happy.

Or maybe they were just really, really pleased that the Congress Party was no longer in power at the Centre. They were so happy happy happy that Sonia Gandhi was no longer in charge. This joy was so overwhelming that they hardly cared who they were applauding. You do realise that I am being kind here, right? Yes, it’s great that the Congress is gone if you don’t like the Congress. And it’s true that your enemy’s enemy is your friend. So if you hate the Congress you naturally support the Congress’ greatest enemy.

But then, it is extremely unfair to the “enemy”, as in the enemy of the Congress, to complain that it hasn’t behaved like you think the BJP ought to. It is an insult to the great legacy of the BJP, which begins in the Hindutva thought process, from the RSS in Nagpur, from Veer Savarkar, from the Hindu Mahasabha and most importantly for the BJP, from SP Mookerjee’s Jan Sangh. This proud tradition has always revelled in the supremacy of Hindus, of the abrogation of rights if not the persecution of religious minorities in India, of the end of Western-style ideas promoted by liberals and other such abominations.

What does it say for those who claim to adore Prime Minister Narendra Modi and at the same time abhor the main fundamentals of Hindutva? Is it fair to ignore Modi’s own past, his glorious track record of following the diktats of Hindutva in Gujarat, and pretend that he has become some version of an anti-Sonia Gandhi person like them, living it up in Lutyens’ Delhi or in London or Washington?

Or if I may ask this question my way: what did you expect?  Did you think once the BJP came to power at the Centre with an absolute majority, the persecution of religious minorities would not begin? That the BJP would turn into some better Congress version that you want, complete with full restriction-free economic liberalisation, millions of jobs and a massive influx of foreign investment. Well, you got demonetisation and hopefully you were really pleased with that. People dying in queues to get their own money, people’s livelihoods and businesses destroyed and black money and corruption reigning as ever.

At no point in the past three years did it occur to you that when a man is lynched to death for being a Muslim based on a mere rumour that he had beef in his fridge, that this is how the party you supported had always behaved? What has upset you so much now? That a rabid hate-spewing priest has become chief minister of Uttar Pradesh? The brute majority won by the BJP in UP after delightful comments from the prime minister about how equal rights meant as many cremation grounds as graveyards? Or about electricity should be provided not just for Muslim festivals but also Hindu ones? Are these UP’s biggest problems? Electricity at Ramzan and graveyards?

And now when the moral police are beating up men and women out in public together and now when people are murdered and beaten by “cow protection” squads, your liberal Lutyens’ selves are suddenly horrified and upset?

This disingenuousness is just hypocrisy and insulting. To the people you claim to support and to the people of India being targeted by them.

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