Manufacturing Emotive Issues

The national scene is being dominated by the current ‘you must chant Barat Mata ki jai’ to prove your nationalism. This was preceded by the ‘Anti national’ abuse being hurled on all those showing dissent with the present regime. These two major issues have been propped up in the recent times and these are trying to undermine the core issue of the state’s onslaught on University autonomy. They air aimed to undermine the issues where the state is trying to displace the democratic ethos and from failure to keep the pre-election promises. This is an attempt to prop up a new emotive issue to add to the array of emotive issues already manufactured by the communal forces.

This issue was thrown up by RSS patriarch Mohan Bhagwat when he said early March 2016 that “Now the time has come when we have to tell the new generation to chant ‘*Bharat Mata Ki Jai’* (Hail Mother India). Armed with this cue Asadduddin Owaisi, the MP from Hyderabad and leader of the MIM, on his own came forward with provocative denial to chant this slogan. He did say he has no problems with shouting Jai Hind or Jai Hindustan. This was a statement parallel and opposite to the spirit of Bhagwat’s statement.

Some Muslim sects have been feeling that Vande Mataram and by extension Bharat Mata ki Jai means bowing to Goddess mother, something which is opposed to their understanding of Islam. Accordingly some of them refuse the use of both these slogans. In a way Bharat Mata ki Jai is an extension of the ‘Vande Matram Kahna Hoga’ assertion from the aggressive sections, expressing the politics of right wing. One recalls in the aftermath of 92-93 post carnage in Mumbai those participating in peace marches were intimidated to shout Vande Matram by Shiv Sena elements. Shiv Sena assertion was ‘Is Desh mein Rahna hai to Vande Matram Kahna Hoga’ (If you want to stay in this country, you will have to shout Vande Mataram).

Song Vande Matram has a complex history. It was written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and, later was made a part of his novel Anand Math. This novel has strong anti Muslim rhetoric. This song was popular with a section of society, but Muslim League strongly objected to the song, as the song compares India with Goddess Durga. Islam being monotheistic religion does not recognize any other God-Goddess than Allah. Many others belonging to monotheistic religions also had problem with this song. In 1937, the ‘Song committee’ of the Indian National Congress with Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam amongst others as members selected Jana Gana Mana as the national anthem and picked up first two stanzas of Vande Matram as national song, leaving out other stanzas, which had imagery of Hindu goddess.

Similarly Bharat Mata ki Jai was one amongst many slogans to exhort the people during freedom movement. Other slogans were Jai Hind, Inquilab Jindabad, Hindustan Jindabad and Allaho Akbar. The response of communities have not been uniform to these slogans. While some Muslim groups will not chant Vande Mataram, the others will freely chant the same and one of the most beautiful tune on this has been composed by none other than A. R. Rahman, Ma Tujhe Salam. Same applies to Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Javed Akhtar chanted it time and over again in Rajya Sabha, while condemning the attitude of Owaisi. Akhtar was quiet on whether some one should be forced to chant such slogans in the first place. The jugal bandi (duet) of RSS-BJP on the one side and MIM, Owaisi on the other is clear. Owaisi had no business to respond to Bhagwat’s comments, as they don’t hold any water in the eyes of the law of the land. He merely was playing the game of inciting the mob to polarize the communities, like RSS-BJP is trying from the other side. This helps the agenda of RSS-MIM. Both are a perfect foil to each other.

This game of advising-shouting of slogans has been preceded by the scene where anti National label has been hurled on JNU students, who had organized meeting to oppose death penalty to Afzal Guru. There are many dimensions of this issue and there are many elements in the student community who do stand for autonomy of Kashmir as was promised in article 370, the treaty of accession. The meeting at JNU had multiple slogan and the most horrendous slogans were shouted by the masked students. The CD which showed the students like Kanhaiya Kumar shouting Azadi slogans was a doctored one. There are twin issues here. One, there is no investigation as to who doctored the video and two why the masked youth have not been apprehended? That apart; hurling anti National slogans on JNU students and labeling JNU as a den of anti national activities has been engineered by the state and by BJP combine.

Interestingly when ‘anti national’ rhetoric is being used so liberally for those dissenting with the Government, the hypocrisy of the situation is very revealing. On one hand ‘pro Kashmir autonomy’ and those opposing death penalty are being dubbed anti national by BJP associates while at the same time BJP had a coalition government with PDP, Mahbooba Mufti’s party in Kashmir. PDP regards Afzal Guru as a hero and martyr. While The intensity of attack is directed at JNU, similar slogans have been part of daily life of sections of Kashmiri people from many decades. Lo and behold BJP also has an electoral alliance with Akali Dal who uphold Anand Pur Sahib resolution calling for autonomous Sikh state of Khalisthan. Let’s recall the in North East the integration process to ‘Indian Nation’ has seen many bumps and separatism has been part of the process running along with integration process on the other. The whole sedition laws needs to be examined and the anti national label being dished out is more to promote emotive issues. BJP’s hypocrisy on this issue stands exposed as on one side it raises temperature in Delhi and on the other it allies with political parties who challenge many of the things enshrined in our Constitution.

The matters are clear. RSS-BJP’s central politics is to polarize the communities by raising emotive issues. Right since its inception RSS on one side kept itself aloof from the process of ‘Nation formation’ (India is a nation in the making). That was the time many social groups and formations were associating with freedom movement and in turn becoming part of Nation building. RSS talked exclusively of Hindu Society and propped up emotive issues of temple destruction, bravery of Hindu kings, greatness of Hindu system (which has caste and gender hierarchy built into it). It did not recognize tricolor as Indian flag and in due course propped up issues related to cow slaughter, beef eating, Indianization of Muslims, Ram Temple, Ghar Wapasi and love jihad. Now two more issues have been added to the list, anti nationalism, and Bharat mata ki Jai.

Its only by keeping up emotive issues alive that society can be polarized on one hand and the issues related to deeper societal concerns can be kept at bay. Such emotive issues are used to distract the social forces from the core issues of the downtrodden sections of the society. In contemporary times the types of concern raised by Rohith Vemula and Kanhaiya Kumar have drawn the focus to the real issues of dalits, farmers suicide, betrayal of promises by Modi Sarkar to name a few. With Bharat Mata Ki Jai the emotive pitch is on the peak along with attempts to erase Rohith Vemula from public memory.