Advani and his protégé

Rajiv Kumar

Rajiv Kumar is Professor at Heidelberg University

The shapes of things, spawning under Modi government of over a year, are in many ways exactly that any individual with slight political perception and knowledge of communalism would have forecast. Notwithstanding his grandstanding about development and economic progress, the basic verity that Modi originates from the cauldron of rabid communal politics steeped in intolerance and with a flawed sense of history remains unchanged. Any attempted efforts to offer Modi a veneer of statesman and manipulated exonerations by different agencies and courts of the land for his role in instigating and fanning the riot of 2002 in Gujarat come unstuck when matched with the facts and his own utterances and doings from those times. What he did or did not do in Gujarat in 2002 would in any civilized nation of the world constitute crimes against humanity. As a matter of fact, many countries deemed those nefarious actions of his as such and had denied him entry until he became the Prime Minister. And he came to power not despite rather because of his role in those riots. Any misconception about him providing a good governance with focus on economic development has by now been completely laid to rest, the country is instead almost under a siege by the hardcore Hindu communalists; they constitute the core constituency of Modi that facilitated him into the office. Marauders could brazen into homes of an ordinary citizen and bludgeon members of the family mere on suspicion of beef consumption is not much different from merciless killing of Ashan Jafri and hundreds of others in one single incidence of lynching in 2002 in Gujarat. Then as the Chief Minister and now as the Prime Minister, Modi has remained steadfast in his refusal to act or speak on the issue. He refuses to be bothered by spate of killings of secular and rationalist writers in the country and instead his henchmen are busy in shifting the blame on to the victims.

Nothing better could portray the current state affairs than Sudheendra Kulkari appearing in newspapers with a blackened face at the launch of a book by Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, a former Pakistani foreign minister. That face was blackened by rabid right wing supporters of Shiv Sena in Mumbai who followed the act by taunting Modi for his instigation of Gujarat riots in 2002. Who else could know the truth better than the close allies? Thuggish organization has been in cahoots with Modi in turning a progressive country into a den of communal intolerance and rabidity. The victim, Sudheendra Kulkari, himself had been a member Modi’s ruling party. That incident even had veteran BJP leader, Lal Krishna Advani speak out against prevailing intolerance. Curiously, Advani’s utterances were suggestive of him as a progressive political sage. The crude and cold reality tells that for many, if not all, communal conundrums facing India, the responsibility can be directly placed on Advani. Advani for that matter is the real culprit and responsible for many mayhems and consequent communal riots. When there was a clamor for dismissal of Modi in the aftermath of 2002 massacres in Gujarat, he was saved by none other than Modi.

To keep Modi in office despite his crimes would constitute one of the many indiscretions that Advani committed during the span of his political career. His conduct stands out by two distinct yet interrelated characteristics, cynical use of communalism for petty political gains and his utter incompetence despite a sagely veneer. Keeping in with tradition of that vile organization, Lal Advani came into politics via RSS, a rabid organization famous for celebrating murder of Gandhi. Advani remained part of Jan Sangh, a forerunner of current BJP in various capacities. When that organization joined Janata Party and won the elections in 1977 in the aftermath of internal emergency, Advani became minister for information and broadcasting. While that Janata experiment lasted two years, the Jan Sangh constituent of Advani did lasting damage through facilitation of infiltration by communal elements into every strata of government. Following its reincarnation as BJP after break up of Janata Party, Advani assumed mantle of leadership following its rout in the first election after assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. Advani as a leader of BJP turned out to be a vintage communalist and unleashed hitherto unseen bigotry. He cynically turned a dormant issue of disputed Babri Masjid into a communal frenzy that left thousands dead in its trail. For the sake of historical accuracy, that structure was never a temple; an idol was placed in the mosque through surreptitious machinations involving Hindu Mahasabha, local bureaucrats and state government of Uttar Pradesh. None of that mattered to Advani, who in a single quest of narrow political gains vitiated the entire country. Even the congress government of Rajiv Gandhi did not lack behind in utilizing the communal polarization. Serial broadcast of Hindu epics on national television in 1980s played no less part in communalization of the country from one end to another.

When Advani’s march of rabid communalism in 1989 was interrupted in Bihar, BJP brought down the national government. In the meanwhile, electorally, the communal antics of Advani had started paying dividend. It would be still be some time before BJP would come power at the center; in the interim he presided over one of the most shameful episode that befell India. In December 1991, Lal Advani over saw the total demolition of Babri Masjid. It was not just destruction of that national monument rather the entire communal fabric of the country came apart on that day of national disgrace in which Advani played the foremost part. The irony remains that every single vile act brought BJP ever-increasing share of votes; Advani’s politics of cynicism had turned entire country into rabid and cynical. That was ground created by Advani that bred the rise of ultra-communalists and opportunists like Modi. Once BJP came to power, Advani assumed portfolio of home minister charged with internal security. His tenure as minister would always be remembered for the hijacking fiasco in which that government shamelessly handed over three terrorists in exchange for the hostages. Advani shamelessly feigned ignorance about the transpirations of hijacking saga in his memoirs despite being the minister in-charge of the internal security at the time. Everything else, however, pales in comparison to his reckless defense of Modi, which makes Advani equally accomplice in the mayhem that was carried out in Gujarat. And in many ways the current state of hyper communalism can be traced back to the cynical politics authored by Lal Advani. All Modi has done is to prove himself to be the true protégé of Advani.


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