The saffron plague

The process began as they pulverized the Indian voter, no more than 32% but good enough to give them a record-breaking hold on the levers of power in Delhi.
The saffron plague
Representational Photo

Saffronite hordes seem to have painted the Indian state in a colour they want for themselves.

The process began as they pulverized the Indian  voter,  no more than 32% but good enough to give them a record-breaking hold on the levers of power in Delhi. 

They even managed to piggy-back their way to power in Jammu and Kashmir thanks to their showing in Jammu, not the 44 plus they had predicted'  but good enough yet  to  become the second largest party  in the state,  enough to savour power in partnership with the PDP, a first in the state for the saffronites. 

These indeed are real good times for the saffronites. The prime minister Modi is motor-mouthing his way across the country and beyond, launching schemes, making promises, bulldozing his way amid scandals and scams. Nearly  a score foreign trips have or  are about to  be logged this past one year. His bags are  already packed up, a full load of his favourite designer attire.  

The  government under his watch has meanwhile lost no time  to subvert well-established norms, instruments of state, institutions – all in the name of saffronisation, a very overt attempt at establishing Hindu Rashtra. even feeble attempts to obstruct the Hindutva march are crushed mercilessly, the Bhagwa Peer, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh providing the  "moral authority"  to enforcing  saffron diktats. Institutes of excellence have been chosen to be recast in the saffron mould. The manner in which the Nobel laureate Amryta Sen has been hounded out not only  from Nalanda university but also gradually from the national discourse as well.

No surprise really that the saffronites should  be testing the ground, as it were, before hopefully  moving in for the kill  in Jammu and Kashmir. The belief obviously is that the time may well   have come  to realise late Shyma Prasad Mukerjea's dream  of the state, at least the larger part of it,  becoming an inseparable  part of the  country, minus the valley if necessary.  Mukerjea had  dreamt this dream in the Lok Sabha in 1952  while contemptuously dismissing Sheikh Mohammmad Abdullah's repeated assertions regarding Kashmir's special status in the Indian union as enshrined in the Indian constitution and subsequently reaffirmed in the state's own constitution drafted by an  elected constituent  assembly.

The state's special status has  been on the statute –  which  irked Mukherjee then and has  continued to rankle the BJP, its predecessor the Jana Sangh and  the RSS.  Late Prem Nath Dogra's  ek vidhan, ek nishan agitation flowed from the Mukerjea doctrine. 

Mukherjee  who  had his own take on the state's accession to the Indian union was dismissive of  assertions  regarding the state's special status and it was  indeed  the high point of his long 1952 Lok Sabha speech which he concluded by  (addressing the  absent sheikh directly) thus : "the same right which you are claiming for Kashmir may also be demanded by the people of Ladakh. Let us proceed in a friendly spirit. Sheikh Abdullah himself said about a month ago  (July 1952) that he will have no objection if the people of Jammu and Ladakh really felt that they would go to India .

I am not saying that you (Nehru) have it done immediately or you proceed in that way, but let it be possible for the people living in those areas to make up their minds which way it will be good to proceed. It will also be consistent with same principles of self-determination which constitute the basic claims of Sheikh Abdullah, supported by the Prime Minister (Nehru)."

This Mukerjea line has, if you ask me, been the guiding star of the Bhagwa approach to Jammu and Kashmir. And it is its revival that seems to be on the BJP cards just now. Remember the number of times Modi and his  man  Amit shah, the party president, spoke of special interests of Jammu and Ladakh during the last year's poll campaign.

The derision with which Shah had asked the Abdullahs of Kashmir  in a Jammu rally to remember who their ancestors were. He, rightly or wrongly was suggesting Hindu ancestry of the family.

The renewed manifestation of this state of mind of the BJP rulers in New Delhi was  exposed with the stingy response of the union government towards the last year's flood disaster in the valley. It has been on view repeatedly ever since.

Attempts, directly and indirectly, have  been  made to create awkward situations for the chief minister, the PDP's Mufti Sayeed with whom they are in a coalition in the state. Announcements concerning the Jammu region are often made by Modi's junior minister in the PMO, Jitender Sing; BJP ministers  feel free to defy the chief minister.

One of them,  Lal Singh even chose to countermand some decisions taken by  the chief minister on the silly ground that they fell within his ministry's departmental jurisdiction.  

The RSS is meanwhile  making merry in the state. Jammu alone accounts for nearly 500 shakhas and according to a report   offers training in the use of arms at  some of these.

An outfit called Muslim Rashtriya Manch floated in concert with there RSS and ideologues claims to have struck the right chord with a lot of Muslims in the valley. At the risk of sounding repetitive, you  have Ram Madhav's word that the BJP had enrolled three lakh primary members in the valley at one go.

A remarkable achievement, unlikely as it is, and one that the separatists must be  scoffing at, not to speak of the ominous ring it must have for the mainstream parties. No such luck for the latter species, I know. Fresh recruits is a hard commodity to come by for them.

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