Millennium Post

No let-up in Hindutva push

During its golden jubilee celebrations, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation, reasserted its desire to make India a Hindu nation. Besides asking Hindus to befriend Dalits and end untouchability for ‘Hindu unity’, religious figures at the event asked its followers to procreate at least eight children to ensure that Hindus do not lose the ‘population race’ to Muslims.

In an apparent warning to the BJP-led government at the Centre, VHP chief Praveen Togadia claimed that his organisation would not rest until the contentious Ram temple comes up at the site of desecrated mosque in Ayodhya, a cause for much communal violence in our recent history. Early into his tenure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a 10-year moratorium on caste and communal violence in the country.

Proponents of hardcore Hindutva like Praveen Togadia, however, has not received the memo. Hindutva’s key goal is to forge a unified Hindu identity, which transcends caste boundaries, but without necessarily dismantling the caste system. Consequently, vitriolic rhetoric and acts of violence against Muslims and other religious minorities are viewed as instruments that can be used towards building a singular Hindu identity. Besides the absurdity of establishing a singular Hindu identity and asking its women to produce eight children, in times such as these one must look back into history.

In 1949, the much-maligned former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, overruled members of the Hindu right in the Congress, led by Sardar Patel and SP Mukherjee, who wanted to a forced exchange of populations based on religion to bring closure to communal violence that broke out in West Bengal. In overruling members of his own party, Nehru ensured that Muslims in Bengal were not denied natural citizenship based on religion. Unfortunately, proponents of Hindutva do not respect the idea of citizenship that protects that plural nature of our democracy.
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