Hindutva, thanks to the fig leaf provided by the Supreme Court some years ago, we have been constantly reminded ever since, doesn't signify the practice of the Hindu faith but actually is a harmless outline of the Hindu way of life. Harmless or not, the intervening years have seen forces of Hindutva, slowly and subtly, unmasking themselves. Not merely as proponents of the Hindu way of life, but actually as ardent, fire-breathing advocates of Hindu Rashtra. Of Bharat Mata and Hindu Rashtra. India that is Bharat is no secular State after all, they seem to insist –never mind the Constitution or the spirit it enshrines. Forget clichés like Sarva Dharma Sambhav, the Vasudev Kutambukams. Bharat, that was India, is a Hindu Rashtra and anyone living therein must therefore be a Hindu. You have the word of Hegdewar, Golwalkar and Mohun Bhagwat, not forget Savarkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyay to keep you reminded of this "reality". And the fair man Mr Bhagwat, the reigning RSS supremo, must be, he loses no opportunity to remind his hordes of how close they indeed are to achieving what the RSS had been striving for these last nine decades. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the political arm of Mr Bhagwat's RSS, now holding sway over vast swathes of the Indian landmass, is all set – indeed in business already – of delivering to the mother organization its ultimate prize, an unadulterated Hindu Rashtra. Yes, for the record a handful of party leaders, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi do from time to time keep us assured that they mean no harm to non-Hindus. The saffron rank and file though seems to know better. For, even Mr Modi's Cabinet colleagues and the party bosses in the States never lose an opportunity to remind us of what lies ahead. The doings of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the numerous Hindu sectarian Senas – UP Chief Minister Adityanath continues to be the star of his own Vahini ("army")- and if you care to look around, similar armies, sporting the colours of gowbhakts, Bajrang Dals, the Ram Sena, are already breathing down your necks. And they are not loath to killing, lynching and finding pretexts to make a show of their intent to hurt – hurt anyone who they see as hostile.
The word for the largest minority community, if what some of Mr Modi's Ministers and his party men are to be believed, continues to be "if you are unhappy here move on over to Pakistan".' Yes, three at least of his Ministers, including the one who during the 2014 poll campaign in Bihar dared the Muslim community to either vote saffron or go to Pakistan. As if some 20 crores Muslims were a pack of rats who could be gotten out of the way for the purveyors of Hindu Rashtra to flourish in their lonely splendor. If communal strife has tended to look like a routine occurrence, a commonplace, you don't have to look around for long for the answer. It's just plain and simple hate – a thousand pities that. From Assam, to West Bengal, to Bihar, from Madhya Pradesh to UP and on to Rajasthan the majoritarian chauvinist bug is spreading its wings. In Assam the colour is an unmitigated furious bhagwa (saffron), directed against alleged Muslim migrants from Bangladesh said to have significantly altered the demographics there, a charge repeated in the case of West Bengal which like Assam has always boasted of a substantial minority presence. And if you have any doubts about the intent, remember the hordes of armed Ram Navami processionists in West Bengal the other day battling it out not just for political space –Trinamool Vs BJP- but the safronites actually turned their provocative attention to many Muslim-dominated areas, to brow-beat them, and, to intimidate too. And the State BJP chief himself was leading an armed group at one place, a bared sword in hand – And lo and behold another of Mr. Modi's junior Ministers from Bengal was on hand too to issue an instant fatwa brazenly blaming the Muslim minority for the Ramnavami confrontation, naming it as the agent provocateur in successive twitters, choosing to ignore the fact that the BJP is engaged in a direct face-off with Mamta Banerji's ruling Trinamool Congress. And, imagine, the man claims to be a Bollywoood playback singer, Babul Supriyo or something, his name! So full of hate. And Ram Navami, mind you, is not one of those big mela type occasions in Bengal. It's not the Durga Puja kind. It's celebrated but not with armed men going up and down the streets and thoroughfares. Nor to make the Muslim minority the scapegoats. And yet the saffron hordes and their rivals of TMC did make a battle of it. So clumsily did they behave that in the heat of their misplaced enthusiasm they brought down a statue of Maulana Azad, the youngest ever Congress President (1924 vintage) who upon becoming the party chief in 1946 again went on record to say "I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of the fact that I have inherited Islam's glorious traditions of the past 1300 years. I am not prepared to lose even a small part of that legacy. I have another deep realization born out of my life's experience, which is strengthened not hindered by the spirit of Islam. I am equally proud of the fact that I am an Indian, an essential part of that indivisible unity of Indian nationhood without which this noble edifice will remain incomplete. I can never give up this sincere claim." And to end up, there was that lonely wail by the Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, a needles cry, considering that the ruling BJP in Delhi is her partner in the State Government. Yet such is the sense of alienation which the New Delhi dispensation and its operatives on the ground have wrought in the State , the valley in particular, that even she had to bemoan the fact. "There are many ways of dealing with the situation in Kashmir but we are using only one measure – we are fighting guns with guns.But someone has to treat (heal) the wounds … and the people of this country (India) can do that.'
The Chief Minister couldn't have been more explicit than that. But then who hears the valley wails? Who has the time in New Delhi even to try offer some relief to the long suffering valley and its people, the Security Forces, the marching columns and the armed convoys now very much a part of the daily routine, in cities, towns and villages. And the pity is that the State unit of the BJP, goaded and guided by their sanchalaks in Delhi, seem intent on adding to the woes of life. Not a day passes, one has noticed from a distance, when the BJP bosses in the State do not take time off to run down the State government of which they are a part or simply keep on repeating their own list of woes.
This, even as the valley continues to groan under the iron heel of those supposed to be protecting it. Saving it from itself, as someone so cruelly said the other day. Meanwhile, the saffron march continues, unobstructed and often protected by the very people who are supposed to keep them from adding to the prevailing chaos. Have any doubts, take a quick trip (at your own risk, if you sport a beard or a skull cap) to Rajasthan, UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The North East is meanwhile learning the tricks of the trade – the art of survival. New Delhi is loosening its pursue strings. Strange, that the North East too should be home to a significant Christian population.