|HOME | NEWS | COLUMNISTS | SAISURESH SIVASWAMY|
January 23, 2000
The great bath, et alPardon the cynicism, but the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's latest temple manoeuvres once again reinforce the view that for this claimant to the Hindu mind, the Ram temple at Ayodhya is not an 'expression of national sentiment' but a pure and simple vote-catching device.
Cynicism is a dangerous thing. It is the acid that corrodes love, the question mark that pops up at the end of every pronouncement and negates it, but it is also the one single trait that distinguishes the journalist tribe from, say, that of bank managers. It goes with the territory to look askance at everything that comes our way, and sometimes so ingrained is this habit that it can wreak havoc on one's personal life, but that's the price that has to be paid.
However, one does not need x-ray vision to see through the VHP's gambit, it is so transparent. Here is an outfit that breathes fire every now and then, chafes at its own government's inaction, tardiness, whatever, but still will do little to rock the boat. On the contrary, it will do everything in its power to ensure that its actions strengthen the political party.
Is there any earthly reason for the VHP-inspired Dharam Sansad to put off the actual work on the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya by a year, except that the new day coincides with the time when the assembly election is due in Uttar Pradesh? To the cynic and the sceptic in me, no.
Actually, if you look at it, one year is a long time in politics. The VHP, or any other organisation for that matter, could very well serve a notice on the state government to improve the quality of life in the next 12 months, and believe me, a lot can be done in 12 months if the administration set its mind to it. But no, instead what we have is a mass agitation to erect a temple, or an artificial controversy over Sonia Gandhi's snan at the Kumbh Mela.
When there are any number of people -- of all origins, nationality, faith -- congregating at the Sangam and having holy dips to their heart's content, it is Sonia Gandhi's snan that the Sangh associates are terrified of. And, if they think their votebank is so fragile that it will bolt to the Congress thanks to Sonia's dip in the Kumbh, imagine their horror if she were to, say, recite the Gayatri mantra!
It is a classic case of being damned if she does, damned if she doesn't, for Sonia Gandhi. Her non-Hindu origin is grist for the Sangh Parivar mills, but if she does anything remotely Indian/Hindu, her motives are questioned. For a faith that prides itself on its catholicity, Hinduism's self-appointed guardians sure seem a paranoid lot.
And this paranoia is a little inexplicable, for nothing has happened on the political firmament that could even remotely be argued as favouring her. There is no conceivable threat to the National Democratic Alliance; and a midnight coup in the Lok Sabha looks as remote as it did in the previous millennium; there is no indication at all that Mulayam Yadav has softened his stand against the woman who almost became leader of the 12th Lok Sabha.
Thus, given the preponderance of evidence on why Sonia Gandhi still faces a long haul, the only turn in her fortunes seems to be that engineered by the state administration.
Even if Sonia's intentions behind visiting Allahabad and her dip in the Sangam are taken at their face value, that it was devoid of any political significance to begin with, the reaction to it, from both the official agencies and the media, have vested the visit with more than ordinary meaning.
After making a big issue of Sonia's non-Indian origins, the VHP and its friends are suddenly realising that the very breadth and span of Hinduism, which allow anyone and everyone to be a Hindu without becoming one, could take the wind out of their sails.
So what will happen in the days to come are an increasing attack at the liberal ethos that has characterised the faith from time immemorial, and an effort to usurp in the hands of a few the authority to speak on issues that concern the amorphous community.
It certainly won't be a welcome development, but what will carry the day for those out to rewrite the rules of the faith is the apathy widespread among Hindus. Of course, Hindus will mind the alteration of their faith, but they won't care enough to voice their concern or protest. After all, when was the last time they were known to have taken a stand on anything, against anyone out to speak on their behalf?
The campaign for the Ram temple, specifically the demolition of the Babri Masjid, illustrates this point. Even as the community was stupefied by the act, apart from internalising the anguish, how many stood up to condemn the act? Even among those emotionally scarred by the violence, how many recall the horror of that day eight years later, or have done anything to force those without a genuine locus standi off the issue?
What this presents us with, is a paradox. Those who claim to be the defenders of the faith will, in all probability, end up as those who pervert its tenets, while a person who is reviled as an outsider, will perhaps be acknowledged for acknowledging its liberalism, if nothing else.
ASTROLOGY | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEDDING | ROMANCE | WEATHER | WOMEN | E-CARDS | SEARCH
HOMEPAGES | FREE MESSENGER | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK