(First published in News4Masses.com)
Until three years ago, when a self-confessed Hindu nationalist Mr. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of this country, the favorite insult of right wingers on social media was pseudo-seculars. Anyone who questioned their viewpoint or supported anything done by the then government were labeled as pseudo-seculars and accused of minority appeasement. Then it all changed, and the term pseudo-secular is hardly found in the mentions and comments. It appears that the term ‘anti-national’ has replaced pseudo-secular.
When a ‘hostile’ government was in power, these people could hardly use the term anti-national because most of their campaigns went against the state and the nation as it existed then. There was no hesitance to go after the government, judiciary, police or even armed forces. They wanted everyone to be anti-government, and it is not so easy to distinguish between anti-national and anti-government. When Mr. Modi assumed the power, the whole narrative had to be changed, and the acts and deeds of the state supported at any cost!
If we follow the current pattern, we see an eagerness among the right wingers to label everyone voicing a different view as anti-national and ask them to go to Pakistan or at least to leave India. On the face of it, such labelling, or commands to leave the country, is blatantly wrong. The nation is not anyone’s family property that one can keep asking other citizens to go away. Then, why do they keep doing that?
To understand this phenomenon, we need to go back and look at the nature of the right wing in India. The continuing support to the type of policies being followed by Modi government clearly indicates that the so called right wing in India has nothing to do with rightist economic policies. This Govt does not subscribe to the liberal principles of ownership of one’s assets, or even one’s body and privacy. Look at its stand in the demonetization or Aadhaar issue and it becomes quite obvious. At times, Modi Govt’s policies are more leftist than the communists!
What we term as right wing in India is less of economic right, and more of religious right. It was no accident or slip of tongue that Mr. Modi chose to describe himself as a ‘Hindu nationalist’ during the electioneering. The allegiance is not to an India envisaged by the Constitution, but a Hindu Rashtra envisaged by the parent body, RSS. That is why the term ‘Bhakts’ is more accurate to describe the supporters of this government than the term ‘right wing,’ which has some universally accepted characteristics grounded mainly in economics.
The primary binding factor for the Bhakts is the religion. However, in India religion alone cannot divide people into a clean Us vs They. There are a large number of Hindus who do not subscribe to the RSS’s Hindutva. It is not easy to make every Hindu to follow the ideals of Sangh in the short or medium term. Bhakts and Sangh believe that the minds of these people were corrupted by the liberal or colonial education system and brainwashing by the evangelists and Islamists. The political power. However, helps them to make a clean division between nationals and anti-nationals. Never mind how much they had opposed the previous governments, but now with a RSS backed government in power only anti-nationals can question its policies or acts. It is not surprise that the Sangh draws inspiration form the practices of religions to make the division!
Religions usually demand strict and unquestioning adherence to its precepts. Religions create a lot of rules for the followers to obey. Any violation of these rules are termed sins, which are supposed to bring heavy consequences in this life or the forthcoming lives. The strategies may differ from religion to religion. One religion may demand confessions, another may demand penance, or confer rewards and punishments in the form of the fruits of one’s acts and deeds. All of them, however, demands complete obedience.
The obedience sought by the religious forces is absolute. Stories of Abraham who readied himself to murder his young son on the command of his God, and Ekalavya who cut his thumb on the command of his Guru Dronacharya are the examples that readily comes to mind, while we can find any number of such examples from the religious myths. The instrument of precepts, sins, and punishments is the effective tool that religious use to command absolute subservience from the followers.
Now that the political power has been captured, Bhakts would love to ensure similar unquestioning, absolute obedience to their government from all Indians. It is, therefore, their duty to keep reminding anyone who raises voice of dissent that it is a mortal sin to do so. Every voice against their regime is anti-national and fit to be punishment with a one way ticket to the ‘antithesis of their nation.’ Pakistan that came into existence as a Muslim nation is symbolic as an antithesis of the Hindu Rashtra. If the sins continue, then they will not hesitate to use more persuasive methods like physical attacks and lynching.
Religions have perfected the art of creating a number of hard to avoid sins so that the followers remain guilty and apologetic all the time. The neo-nationalist Bhakts are also importing this strategy of sins, to make citizens defensive all the time, by creating too many anti-national acts! They will shout anti-national at even small deviations in behavior so that the citizens will not dare to do of voice anything which is even slightly inconvenient to the government.
A citizen is not expected to support anything and everything that the government, public servants, or armed forces of the country do. It is the duty of a citizen to be on constant vigil and ensure every wrong is called out and corrected. The demands like ‘go to Pakistan’ or abuses like ‘anti-national’ are inevitable when you point out the mistakes of a government that is founded on the religious nationalism.
It is not easy to go against an organized religion or cult. It is also not easy to go against nationalist government of any religious persuasion. But then, who said democracy and liberty are easy to get or easy to maintain?!
P.S: When it really mattered, they did not take part in the Quit India movement. Today, they keep shouting ‘Quit India’!