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Trouble mounts for Bhai Jagtap after MNS abstains from voting

In all, there are 15 candidates in the fray for the six local authorities constituencies for which voting was held yesterday. Out of the total 2,622 croporators, 2585 corporators cast their ballot, with the overall voting percentage of 98.59 percent being recorded.

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Also ReadIndiaWorse than Trump supporters? When Mehdi Hasan discovered online ‘Hindutva’ trollsIndiaDDCA row: Arvind Kejriwal dares BJP, says let Jaitley be cross-examined in defamation casesIndiaCongress mouthpiece questions Nehru’s policies; says Sonia Gandhi’s father had fascist linksIndiaDarbhanga double murder case: Six detained, SHO suspendedIndiaKejriwal’s ‘stupid’ Odd-Even formula will only create chaos in Delhi: CongressIndiaSpeaker Sumitra Mahajan moots proposal for building new Parliament <!– /.block –>

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Congress mouthpiece questions Nehru’s policies; says Sonia Gandhi’s father had fascist links

“Some words that have been used in some articles of ‘Congress Darshan’ are certainly objectionable. I accept the mistake. Action will be taken against people in editorial team who are responsible for this mistake,” Nirpuam said.

dna Web Team

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<!– /.block –>Now a pop song in the ‘Baahubali’ Kilikki language! <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaWorse than Trump supporters? When Mehdi Hasan discovered online ‘Hindutva’ trollsIndiaDDCA row: Arvind Kejriwal dares BJP, says let Jaitley be cross-examined in defamation casesIndiaCongress mouthpiece questions Nehru’s policies; says Sonia Gandhi’s father had fascist linksIndiaDarbhanga double murder case: Six detained, SHO suspendedIndiaKejriwal’s ‘stupid’ Odd-Even formula will only create chaos in Delhi: CongressIndiaSpeaker Sumitra Mahajan moots proposal for building new Parliament <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Rick’s ramblings: Letter to Santa<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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BJP appoints VHP-supported Hindutva hardliner K Rajasekharan as Kerala unit chief

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Rajasekharan’s elevation may trigger a minority wave in the favour of LDF or UDF, feel some BJP leaders.

K Rajasekharan

The BJP on Friday appointed Hindutva hardliner Kummanam Rajasekharan, as the chief of the party’s Kerala unit, reports Indian Express.However, a section of BJP leaders feel that the appointment of Rajasekharan, who is known for his inflammatory speeches, would impede the party’s attempts to emerge as an alternative to the CPM-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF in Kerala.Rajasekharan’s elevation may trigger a minority wave in the favour of LDF or UDF, feel these leaders.The BJP has so far looked to consolidate Nairs, Ezhavas and section of Christians with an eye on the upcoming polls. But with Rajasekharan at the helm, the party may find it tough to get support from Christians.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP is also trying to forge an alliance with Kerala Congress (Mani) which could now be in jeopardy, says the report. The party has a strong Christian base.Rajasekharan was backed by VHP, while R Balashankar, former editor of Organiser, was supported by the RSS.

Local leaders’ sentiments, RSS, caste to play crucial role in BJP’s Mission UP

The party, which has already begun the ground work for selection of candidates, is likely to give priority to those who lost by narrow margins or came second in the last assembly election in UP.

RSS

After Bihar, the BJP has started gearing up for its next high stake battle– the Uttar Pradesh assembly election. Though there are still 15 months to go, the party has lined out the broad contours of its strategy in the state, which like Bihar, it had swept in last year’s Lok Sabha elections. With the mistakes made in the recent Bihar assembly election still fresh in the mind, one of the first lessons for the BJP is to factor in sentiments of local unit in UP particularly in ticket distribution, according to party sources. In the aftermath of the Bihar debacle, several state leaders had alleged that the BJP leadership had ignored them and projected “outsiders” in the run-up to the election.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The party, which has already begun the ground work for selection of candidates, is likely to give priority to those who lost by narrow margins or came second in the last assembly election in UP. There are around 15%-20% of such candidates, sources said. Another experience from Bihar was the caste dynamics dominating all other narrative in the state where the BJP and its allies faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav combine, unlike in the Lok Sabha election when the NDA had won 31 of the 40 seats. Sources said the party will lay emphasis on the caste arithmetic in UP, focusing on the upper castes, OBCs and scheduled castes, while deciding on candidates and working out its strategy in the run-up to the 2017 election. In UP, where party President Amit Shah was in-charge during the Lok Sabha election, the BJP, which had projected Narendra Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate, had won 73 of the 80 seats. During the recent Bihar election, the BJP had pinned its hopes on the “uneroded” Modi wave, which had swept both UP and Bihar for it in 2014. In the Lok Sabha election, the BJP had even encroached BSP leader Mayawati’s dalit vote bank as Modi managed to woo the electorate cutting across caste lines. While in the general election, the BSP failed to win a single seat, the BJP is viewing her as its most formidable foe in 2017.With Mayawati, who is hoping to consolidate the dalit and Muslim vote, having a sway over Western UP, the BJP is planning to focus on development-craving Poorvanchal or Eastern UP. While the Dalit population in UP is around 20 per cent, the Muslims account for 19.3 per cent in the state. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, is also likely to be play a bigger role in the election to the state, which was the hotbed of hindutva politics and had pushed the party to the national centre-stage in the 1990s. The party strategy is to refrain from chanting about Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which is now in court and on the back burner of the party’s agenda, sources said. However, several of its Hindutva hardliners like Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj are from UP. The BJP is toying with the idea of replacing its state unit chief Laxmikant Bajpayi, a Brahmin. Among the names doing the rounds are union minister of state for HRD Ram Shanker Katheriya, a pracharak and a Dalit leader, Swatantra Dev Singh, an OBC from Bundelkhand and Ashok Kataria, the state vice-president. Bihar debacle : With the mistakes made in the recent Bihar assembly election still fresh in the mind, one of the first lessons for the BJP is to factor in sentiments of local unit in UP particularly in ticket distribution, according to party sources. In the aftermath of the Bihar debacle, several state leaders had alleged that the BJP leadership had ignored them and projected “outsiders” in the run-up to the election.
RSS role: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, is also likely to be play a bigger role in the election to the state, which was the hotbed of hindutva politics and had pushed the party to the national centre-stage in the 1990s. The party strategy is to refrain from chanting about Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which is now in court and on the back burner of the party’s agenda, sources said. However, several of its Hindutva hardliners like Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj are from UP.

BJP aiming to create law and order problem, impose President’s rule: CM Tarun Gogoi

Gogoi said RSS, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Sena and other Hindutva elements were working under the guidance of a senior BJP leader to create law and order problem in the state so that grounds could be cleared for imposition of the President’s Rule.

Coming down heavily on BJP’s ‘Dispur Gherao’ protest, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Wednesday said it was aimed at creating law and order problem so that President’s Rule could be imposed in the state. “BJP’s Dispur Gherao protest today was just to cover up Modi government’s failure in fulfilling the promises… BJP is trying to create a law and order problem in the state at any cost and wants to impose President’s Rule here,” Gogoi told a press conference here. “BJP is trying to foment communal clashes and we have got intelligence inputs about this and attempts are being made to put beef inside temples. They are trying this in sensitive places like Silchar and Dhubri… They are also encouraging extremists, including both insurgents and jehadis, in Assam,” he alleged.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gogoi said RSS, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Sena and other Hindutva elements were working under the guidance of a senior BJP leader to create law and order problem in the state so that grounds could be cleared for imposition of the President’s Rule. The BJP, he said, does not want to contest the forthcoming Assembly polls as “they know that if the Congress government remains, it will do more good work in the remaining few months”.The Narendra Modi government at the Centre has failed on its promises such as bringing back black money, controlling inflation, deporting illegal immigrants, job creation and not constructing big dams among others, he added. “There is no match in their words and deeds. Digital India, Make in India — these are just to divert the attention from main issues,” Gogoi said. The BJP’s state unit today organised a march to Dispur to protest against the alleged corrupt rule of the Congress government.Many BJP leaders and supporters have been detained after it turned violent and police fired rubber bullets in the air, lobbed tear gas shells and used water cannons to control the mob.

Both sides of the are argument flawed: Why the great secularism debate is a waste of time

The great secularism debate begins all over again. Rest assured, it will take us nowhere. There will be plenty of theoretical drivel from both sides of the secular divide justifying respective positions. And as usual there won’t be a point of convergence. Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president set the ball rolling on day one of the winter session; Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take it forward on Friday. The end result is not expected to be dramatic.

There have been two competing narratives of secularism in the country since the days of Independence, one which goes by the generic description of Nehuruvian secularism, and the other is that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Both narratives dig into history for sustenance and both link themselves to the wider issue of nationhood. The difference is one looks at the symmetries in our history, the other at asymmetries. One stresses the assimilative, adaptive and syncretic traits in it, while the other digs out the several conflicts, fault lines and entrenched grievances the other narrative tries to gloss over.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Given the fundamental contradiction in approach, an agreement is impossible. That makes the renewed debate waste of time. The real issue in India is not a singular theoretical description of secularism, but the way it’s actually practiced or sought to be practiced on the ground and its impact on people. That is where political secularism – the way parties look at the subject and go about it — kicks in. Irrespective of how India was or has been through centuries, it’s political considerations that have driven secularism in the country. And it needs elaboration.

The brand of secularism followed by the so called secular parties in the country has been hypocritical at the best and devious at the worst. They have been accused of appeasing the Muslims at the cost of the majority. It’s factually wrong. If it was truly the case, it would reflect in the living standards and other social parameters of the community. The Sachar report offered a stark reminder where they actually stand after six decades. The fact is such parties have only exploited the sense of insecurity among the Muslims and done little to mainstreaming them.

That the Congress – the biggest champion of secularism – has lost the Muslim constituency entirely over the decades is instructive in this context. It’s not clear yet what makes it, and other similar parties, squeamish about criticising Muslim organisations involved in terrorist activities and vocal when Hindu organisation get involved in acts of vandalism. If they are perceived to be anti-Hindu now, it’s a situation of their own making. This secularism is not of the Nehruvian variety by a long stretch.

On the other hand, the brand of secularism the RSS-BJP emphasises on is equally pernicious, if less hypocritical, for the simple reason that there’s too much hate and anger in it. It operates through foot soldiers who give it a completely negative colour through their illiberal, coercive and fundamentally anti-intellectual approach to everything. With excessive accent on Hindutva and the past it appears inherently exclusive and loaded with majoritarian tendencies. Worse, it is yet to develop a precise line of thinking to win over new converts. It would be still be acceptable with its imperfections if it didn’t evoke fear, not only in minorities but also in liberal Hindus.

Both versions of secularism being presented to us are full of flaws. And given the contentious nature of the subject and the political games involved we can hardly expect a meeting point coming out of any debate — remember we are talking of two entirely different readings of history. So why waste time over it?

A stitch in time saves nine: Aamir Khan’s statement is neither hyperbolic nor motivated

Actor Aamir Khan chipped in on the debate over intolerance and expressed alarm and despondency over the rise in such cases in the last six to eight months. Khan added poignancy and alacrity to his assertions and further stated, “(Wife) Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet,” he said.

The context to Aamir Khan’s assertions is the growing chorus over intolerance and actual incidents of violence in India. The most prominent of these that hogged the headlines are the Dadri lynching of an elderly Muslim man and the murderous arson attack on a Kashmiri trucker. The former was mobbed and lynched over rumors of having stored beef in his house and the latter after the beef ban controversy erupted in Kashmir. Both were innocent victims of a whipped up mob frenzy; not isolated, vigilante attacks that could be brushed aside as aberrations.

Aamir Khan. IbnliveAamir Khan. Ibnlive

Aamir Khan. Ibnlive

While there has been a wide ranging response to Aamir Khan’s assertions — ranging from the churlish and rude to the sober — Khan’s statements should focus and concentrate the minds of sober and thoughtful people.

Deconstructed, Aamir Khan’s statement is neither hyperbolic nor motivated.

Khan’s expression of alarm and then despondency is carefully thought out. He is a Muslim, in fact, a celebrity Muslim that many sections of the media have not ceased to tout as being representative of India’s secular and plural polity. Given the ubiquity of Aamir Khan and other assorted Khans in Bollywood and their celebrity nature, these people were inevitably plum pickings for propaganda and presenting a distorted picture of the Muslim condition in India. It needs to be pointed out here that the abysmal Muslim condition in India has been well documented to belabor any further discussion on Muslims in the country. Aamir — being an astute person — appears to know and understand his status and stature; hence the bombshell he drops. The propagandists have ‘egg on their face’. But this is not the main or major point of Aamir Khan’s assertions. It is more profound.

Essentially, Khan’s statements appear to be in the nature of a plea and need for course correction and review of the contemporary thrust and drift of the country’s polity and politics. It is not rocket science to understand and feel the undercurrents of multiple transitions that India is contemporarily undergoing. The major and the most significant transition is the ‘work in progress’ metamorphosis of the nature of the country’s polity and its politics. The premise of this metamorphosis is the political ideology that seeks to revert India to its ‘Hindu essence’. Admittedly reductive as all ideologies are, this ideology also seeks to ‘purify’ India of accretions and allegedly alien ideas and themes. Broken down and rudely stated, it seeks to cleanse India which, among other things, means the rule of the majority, a second or third class status for minorities especially Muslims and a more aggressive and chauvinistic posture-within and without. Or, in other words, a wholesale transformation and mutation of the idea of India – a new India of India that is Hindu in nature and essence.

This is the broad philosophical tour de force of the this ideology termed as Hindutva. The rest is mere corollary. That is, pedestrian application and crystallisation of this ideology into the entrails of the state, polity and society in India. Axiomatically, the fallout and consequence of all this would be intolerance. And once intolerance sets in and is not offered a contrapuntal and corrective, it becomes normative. It is to these normative implications and consequences of intolerance that Aamir Khan is throwing his status and eminence to. And it should be read and understood against this perspective. Laying out, delineating and deconstructing Aamir Khan’s statement in this essay is not in the nature of a defense of the man; it is an explication of the statement as I understand these to be. I then validate and whole heartedly endorse what Aamir Khan is stating and implying and that is , ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.

Serious attempts must be made to accomplish Ram Temple, says RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

As glowing tributes were paid to Singhal, Bhagwat recalled Singhal’s last meeting with him earlier this month and said he wanted two things to be accomplished–construction of Ram temple at Ram Janambhoomi and propagation of Vedas.

Mohan Bhagwat

PTI
A condolence meeting for VHP patron Ashok Singhal in New Delhi on Sunday provided a forum for the Sangh Parivar to push for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat saying “serious attempts” should be made to accomplish the Hindutva leader’s dream in this regard.As glowing tributes were paid to Singhal, Bhagwat recalled Singhal’s last meeting with him earlier this month and said he wanted two things to be accomplished–construction of Ram temple at Ram Janambhoomi and propagation of Vedas. The same should be accomplished by working sincerely towards them, he said. “Ashokji during my meeting had shared his two resolves – of building the Ram Temple at Ram Janmabhoomi and spreading Vedic wisdom in the world. If we have to accomplish the resolve of Ashokji, we have to take a pledge today to make his resolve ours.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have to make serious attempts to accomplish the Ram temple and that will be a true tribute to him. Ashokji’s spirit will guide us in this task. We have to keep moving and working on the path shown by Ashokji and in the coming few years we hope to work towards accomplishing his dream of Ram Temple,” he said at a function to pay tributes to Singhal. The RSS supremo at the memorial service said Singhal is no more but his thoughts are with us and the task he undertook (of building the Ram Temple) yielded some results.Bhagwat said Singhal, who had become synonymous with the Ram Temple movement, was an orator par excellence, a true stalwart of Hindutva movement, a good classical singer and a guiding force for all. BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi also shared his over 60-year relationship with Singhal, saying he was committed to the spread of vedic wisdom and values in the world. He said Ram and Bharat are synonymous with each other and sought to remove misconceptions, asserting he never sought to divide people but was a unifying factor.”Ram is Bharat and Bharat is Ram and both are synonymous. If you want to develop Bharat, then Ram temple would also have to be set up. Ashokji was never communal or divisive and sought to unify people.”It is considered divisive these days to talk about Ram temple. We can confidently say that Bharat was a Vishwaguru and will be one…But, a confused country cannot move forward.To call it divisive is against our country’s tradition,”he said.Singhal was a spiritual and unifying person and due to his personality he brought leaders of all communities and sects together on one platform, he said. During the meeting, former VHP president Vishnu Hari Dalmia set the tone for construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, saying it would be a true tribute to Singhal, who dedicated his entire life for Hindutva and spearheaded the Ram Janambhoomi movement. He called upon Bhagwat to press upon the government for early construction of the temple.VHP international working president Pravin Togadia called for passage of a law in Parliament for the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya on the lines of Somnath temple. “The Central government should pass an Act in Parliament to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya, It will be a fitting tribute to Ashok Singhal,” he said, adding that Singhal was committed for elimination of untouchability and caste bias.BJP President Amit Shah who specially flew back to Delhi for the condolence meeting after casting his vote in civic polls in Ahmedabad, said the demise of Ashok Singhal was an irreparable loss to the Sangh Parivar and nation. He was the architect as well as leader of the biggest mass movement of India post independence, he said.

Nathuram Godse row: Now, Hindu Mahasabha calls RSS ‘the biggest traitor’

Three days after the Hindu Mahasabha stirred up a storm by honouring Nathuram Godse on his death anniversary, there are no signs of it subsiding any time soon. Ashok Sharma, national vice-president of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM), on Wednesday slammed RSS leaders for criticising the ABHM for commemorating Godse, and observing Sunday as Balidan Divas in his honour, reports The Times Of India.

Sharma called RSS ‘the biggest traitor’, and said that the organisation has been disloyal to Hindus and the country as a whole, according to The Times Of India. He asserted that the RSS is power hungry and even the BJP is not loyal to the Hindu cause anymore and the party’s anti-Muslim stand has now simply become a tool to garner votes.

Nathuram Godse. IBNLIVENathuram Godse. IBNLIVE

Nathuram Godse. IBNLIVE

Sharma’s volley was a response to statements made by RSS leader MS Vaidya on Sunday, who said that glorifying Godse “is wrong”. He added that ideological battles have “no place for bloodshed.”

“Some people say it will bring pride to Hindutva. No. It will bring a bad name to Hindutva,” he said in an apparent reference to Hindu Mahasabha’s programme, which included a book release and the launch of a website that purports to tell the truth about Godse.

“I can even say, Hindutva has suffered due to the assassination of Gandhi,” he said.

Vaidya’s remarks have once again highlighted the differences in the ideologies of the two organisations.

The RSS, founded by KB Hedgewar and later led by MS Golwalkar, has built a name for itself as a social organisation that works at the grassroots level. It is currently headquartered in Nagpur.

The Hindu Mahasabha, currently headquartered in New Delhi, has been more political, ever since the days of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

While explaining the differences in ideologies, an op-ed in The Hindu reports refers to the book The Brotherhood in Saffron, The RSS and The Hindu Revivalism, in which the authors, it says, explain that Savarkar wanted to turn the Mahasabha into a political party that was capable of opposing the Congress. However, Hedgewar wanted to keep the RSS away from active politics and focus on “cultural work”. Both Hedgewar and Golwalkar had no interest in using the RSS to take on the Congress .

The relations between the two parties got so bad that in 1943, Savarkar’s office wrote a letter to SL Mishra addressing the problem of RSS workers actually “preaching” against the Hindu Mahasabha, and said that it would be best if the Sabhaites “better leave the Sangh… and start their own Hindu Sabha volunteer corps,” reports The Hindu op-ed.

When Gandhi launched the Quit India movement, the RSS chose not to get involved and focused on its cultural activities instead, reports The Hindu. On the other hand, Savarkar called for the youth to militarise themselves, boycott the Quit India movement and urged Indians who are members of the British Army to stick to their posts instead. But it was the murder of Mahatma Gandhi that proved to be the end of their relationship.

Godse and his fellow conspirators in the murder of Gandhi were members of the Hindu Mahasabha and the party’s involvement in the assassination turned public opinion against them. It also led to the government cracking down on both the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS.

The Economic Weekly reports that the RSS was banned in February 1948, post the assassination and reports of their alleged involvement in the Partition riots. Golwalkar made several attempts to have the ban lifted and finally succeeded in July 1949.

By that time, relations between the two organisations was beyond repair.

With inputs from PTI

VHP leader Ashok Singhal, man behind Babri razing, dies aged 89

Gurgaon: VHP leader Ashok Singhal, who was one of the key architects of the mass campaign that led to the razing of the Babri mosque in 1992, died in Gurgoan on Tuesday. He was 89.

In an acknowledgement of his stature in the Hindutva movement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Singhal’s death at a hospital here “a deep personal loss” and described him as “an institution in himself”.

Singhal, whose aggressive championing of a Ram temple at the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya helped the BJP to scale new heights, breathed his last at Medanta-The Medicity, doctor Yatin Mehta told IANS.

“He passed away at 2.20 despite our best efforts,” the doctor said.

Ashok Singhal. AFP

Ashok Singhal. AFP

Singhal was admitted to the hospital on 13 November with heart and kidney problems. He was also suffering from breathlessness. He will be cremated in Gurgaon on Wednesday afternoon.

The VHP leader was earlier admitted to the hospital for a fortnight from 20 October.

A passionate votary of Hindutva, the Agra-born Singhal, son of a government official, joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1942.

He worked mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana before the RSS deputed him to one of its then lesser known affiliates, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), in 1980.

Singhal became its working president in 1984, the year the VHP organised a “Dharam Sansad” (Religious Parliament) which sowed the seeds for the emotive campaign to destroy the 16th century Babri mosque – that Hindutva votaries said was built at the site where Lord Rama was born.

1984 was also the year when the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged just two seats in the Lok Sabha after prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

Singhal’s aggressive promotion of the anti-Babri movement made him one of the best known faces nationally, and gave oxygen to the BJP to raise its Lok Sabha tally to 89 in 1989.

Even as the BJP, under LK Advani’s leadership, came out openly in support of the Ram Mandir movement, Singhal led a massive crowd during the first assault on the Babri Masjid on 30 October, 1990.

That bid was beaten back by security forces. But the unrelenting VHP eventually brought down the Babri Masjid in just six hours on 6 December, 1992, triggering one of the worst outbreaks of Hindu-Muslim violence.

Unlike most BJP leaders who distanced themselves from the Babri razing, Singhal remained proud of the destruction – and vowed to end, one day, the secular character of the country that he said must be a “Hindu Rashtra”.

Critics dubbed him a Hindu fundamentalist and India’s Ayatollah Khomeini. But Singhal – who held a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from the Banaras Hindu University Institute of Technology – made it clear that issues related to Hindu faith cannot be decided by the judiciary.

At home both in English and Hindi, Singhal was widely respected for his mastery over ancient Hindu scriptures. He was at ease in the company of Hindu ascetics and was a strong votary of the movement to build a grand Rama temple on the ruins of the Babri mosque.

He was deeply unhappy over BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s refusal to embrace Hindutva ideology after becoming the prime minister. The VHP leader beamed when Narendra Modi became the prime minister in 2014.

On Tuesday, after Singhal’s death, Modi said he was “an inspiration for generations”.

“I was always fortunate to receive Ashokji’s blessings and guidance. My condolences to his family and countless supporters,” Modi tweeted.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said Singhal brought about “Hindu unity” and “a great change in Hindu mentality”. The MP added: “It will be a true tribute to Singhal if (Rama) mandir is built (in Ayodhya).”

VHP spokesman Surendra Jain told IANS: “Singhalji was a great visionary. We will take forward his vision for fulfil his dreams.”

IANS

Want to fill Hindutva vacuum, will polls outside Maharashtra: Uddhav Thackeray

“Now we have realised that we should move out to spread the message and fill the vacuum of Hindutva thought in the country,” Thackeray said.

In KDMC polls, after an acrimonious campaign in which Sena and BJP targeted each other, Sena emerged as the biggest party with 52 seats in the house of 122, but fell short of majority.

After criticising BJP through the party’s mouthpiece, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said encouraged by his party’s performance in Bihar it may contest the Assembly polls in other states as well to “fill the vacuum of Hindutva thought.” Shiv Sena, which is part of BJP-led NDA, had contested the elections in Bihar independently, though without success.Addressing a press meet at Kalyan after the election of Shiv Sena nominee Rajendra Devlekar as the Mayor of Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation, Thackeray said earlier the party was not serious about contesting polls outside Maharashtra but now it had realised that it could enter other states as well on the plank of “Hindutva.” “Now we have realised that we should move out to spread the message and fill the vacuum of Hindutva thought in the country,” Thackeray said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I did not visit Bihar but our leaders including Sanjay Raut campaigned there and we could manage more than two lakh votes. To fill the vacuum of Hindutva thought in the country, henceforth if there is a demand by the party workers we will contest the coming Assembly elections in other states too,” the Sena president said. Asked about BJP’s debacle in Bihar, Thackeray said he would not comment but took a jibe at the ally saying ” BJP leaders, MPs and MLAs themselves are commenting on it, why do you want me add to that”.In KDMC polls, after an acrimonious campaign in which Sena and BJP targeted each other, Sena emerged as the biggest party with 52 seats in the house of 122, but fell short of majority. It later entered into a pact with BJP, which won 42 seats, to share the Mayor’s post by turns. As to why Sena entered into a pact with BJP for Mayor’s post in KDMC after a bitter campaign, Thackeray said it was for the sake of development, and “let bygones be bygones”.Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ yesterday carried an editorial on the BJP’s performance in Bihar Assembly polls, saying that “cunningness” will not always work in politics and that the common man will respond appropriately if promises made are not fulfilled.

BJP defeat in Bihar will be victory for India: Here’s why Narendra Modi will emerge stronger and tougher

The trouble with the Grand Alliance is that when the hurly-burly is done and the garlands binned, it is as strong as its weakest link, and really not that grand.

The BJP is an entity in itself and has not lost ground. It is the single largest party nationally and secured no less ground than in 2014. The JDU, on the other hand, is a bunch of sticks tied together sans common ideology, and was separately nowhere near the numbers of the BJP.

That’s how it flowed at the start and then the tide went out on the BJP and it is dropping to bronze position.

We can now project two scenarios in the fallout.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

In the first, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi is going to realise that all his ducks are not in a row and this communal colouring will fade away… thankfully. It simply has to. Religion does not work as a campaign issue. And Indians don’t like not be made afraid. We will have a prime minister who is human again and not invincible. That will be good for the country at large and Modi will be compelled to get rid of the deadwood, the noisy wood and drop the loony fringe that has been given far too much rope. He will also have to listen to the voices of relative sanity that have been muted courtesy the adulation showered on Modi. And he can now lead from the front without being the unquestioned icon.

Five days from now he will be in the UK basking in the warm glow of hero worship. That display will now not sit well with the country. Forget all the NRI stuff  and come home!

It is in that way, a healthy defeat. The attention given to beef politics, communalism, Hindutva and the personal assaults by goon squads should reduce dramatically.

Think of it this way. If the BJP had won, the future could have been arrogantly bleak and this kick in the butt was needed. Now, we can have a real Modi and a marriage between the people and the government, not an assault on our secularism. Also, he will no longer keep silent when his frontline makes stupid remarks. On the contrary, the gurus, yogis, charlatans, religious kooks and motormouths like VK Singh and Mahesh Sharma will skulk away in the dark and should stay there.

So, while Modi and company might actually put their house in order, the Alliance has to test its mettle and its tensile strength might well depend on the Congress holding just enough seats to act as a self-indulgent spoilt child — conduct it has displayed frequently after being booted out of power. Are we going to see the sticks fall apart and Lalu Yadav flex muscle and turn the result into a farce as the disparate elements jockey for power?

Certainly, Nitish Kumar is the ‘undisputed’ leader for now, but he is in bed with Lalu and the cat at the feet is a Gandhi-led Congress which has found its way back into having a say. This trinity in the aftermath does not inspire confidence, and tawdry scenes of politicking and infighting are pretty much on the cards. One cannot see Lalu being silent and letting the power bus go past without wresting the wheel. Equally, the Congress is hardly likely to take a backseat amid its shrilly triumphant interpretation of its dozen seats.

In the coming weeks, this ball of wool may well unravel and Modi will exploit that to great advantage.

Why do I feel that Modi will have the last laugh? In this defeat, there is the seed of a victory for the country.

Congress’ potshot at BJP: Yogi Adityanath, Kailash Vijayvargiya are ‘new icons of tolerance’

Randeep Surjewala and Digvijay Singh slammed the BJP leaders in a series of tweets.

Congress on Wednesday took a dig at BJP in the wake of controversial remarks by some of its senior leaders against Shah Rukh Khan, terming Yogi Adityanath and Kailash Vijayvargiya the “new icons of tolerance” of the ruling party.Randeep Surjewala and Digvijay Singh slammed the BJP leaders in a series of tweets.At a Congress briefing, senior spokesman Anand Sharma said that Vijayvargiya’s remarks needed to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”Whoever is with the government is right and is a citizen of the country. But those who don’t fall in line are targeted,” he said as he referred to Vijayvargiya’s remark that Shah Rukh lives in India but his soul was in Pakistan.The Madhya Pradesh MLA had later withdrawn his controversial tweets but asserted that, had there been intolerance in India, Shah Rukh would not have been the most popular actor after Amitabh Bachchan. At the Congress briefing, Sharma said that a large number of Hindus do not believe in the policies of RSS and that it should stop claiming that it represents the entire community.Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath today compared Shah Rukh to Pakistani terrorist and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed after the actor’s “extreme intolerance” comment, sparking condemnation. Adityanath alleged that Shah Rukh and Saeed are speaking the same language of terror and said he did not see any difference in their language.BJP later strongly disapproved of Hindutva leader Adityanath’s controversial comments, terming them “uncalled for” and stating that they did not reflect in any way the core belief of the party or Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

‘Traitor’ Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘soul in Pakistan’: BJP’s Vijayvargiya and Hindutva figure Sadhvi Prachi hit out

The comments by Vijayvargiya and Sadhvi Prachi, a controversial Hindutva leader, came notwithstanding the refrain of top BJP leaders in the recent weeks that insensitive comments should be avoided by partymen.

Shah Rukh Khan

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was today dubbed as “anti-nationalist” and “Pakistani agent” by senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya and controversial Hindutva figure Sadhvi Prachi in their attack on him over his “extreme intolerance” comment. Vijayvargiya, a BJP general secretary and a former state minister of Madhya Pradesh, said Shah Rukh’s “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India, a day after the actor said there is “extreme intolerance” in the country, adding his voice to the protest against the ‘climate of intolerance’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The comments by Vijayvargiya and Sadhvi Prachi, a controversial Hindutva leader, came notwithstanding the refrain of top BJP leaders in the recent weeks that insensitive comments should be avoided by partymen. Vijayvargiya is one of the party strategists for the Bihar Assembly elections.”Shah Rukh lives in India, but his soul is in Pakistan.His films make crores here but he thinks India to be intolerant,” Vijayvargiya said in a series of tweets amid mounting concerns over the “climate of intolerance” in the country.”If this is not anti-nationalist, then what is it. India is making a bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations and all the anti-Indian forces including Pakistan are creating a conspiracy,” he said.The BJP leader alleged that the attempt to create an “environment of intolerance” in the country is part of the conspiracy.”Shahrukh’s comment about intolerance points that he is matching the tunes with Pakistan and anti-Indian forces,” he said. “Today when the entire world is respecting India, talking about increase in intolerance makes the country weak in front of the world.” Vijayvargiya said that when the entire world is respecting India, talking about increase in intolerance makes the country “weak” in front of the world. The BJP leader also posed a question to Shah Rukh over blasts in Mumbai.”When hundreds of people died in the 1993 blast in Mumbai, then where was Shah Rukh Khan. When Mumbai was attacked in 26/11 attacks, then where was Shah Rukh Khan,” he added. Sadhvi Prachi while terming Shah Rukh as a “Pakistani agent” said he should be sent to that country. “Shah Rukh Khan is an agent of neighbouring coutry Pakistan as he reflects their (Pakistan’s) ideology. Such a man should go to Pakistan,” she said while talking to reporters in a court complex in Muzaffarnagar. Turning 50 yesterday, Shah Rukh came out strongly against what he called “extreme intolerance” in the country, saying intolerance towards creativity and religion will hurt the country. “There is intolerance, there is extreme intolerance… there is I think… there is growing intolerance,” he said. “It is stupid… It is stupid to be intolerant and this is our biggest issue not just an issue…Religious intolerance and not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot,” he added. “If there is intolerance to creativity, intolerance through religion, we are taking away every step that the nation is taking forward,” he said.

RSS added 10,000 shakhas in the last decade; 6,000 of them came up in the past year

Nagpur: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has added about 10,000 shakhas during the last decade and more than half of these came up in the last one year.

Currently, there were 50,432 shakhas across the country, a senior leader of the Hindu nationalist outfit on Tuesday said in Nagpur.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Significantly, more than half of the new shakhas came up in the last one year. Shakha is a place where RSS volunteers gather every day.

“The RSS shakhas are increasing and more and more youths from schools and colleges, particularly those pursuing higher studies in medicine, engineering and technology, are attracted to the Sangh,” said Vidarbha joint secretary of RSS Deepak Tamshettiwar here.

As many as 6,684 new shakhas were added since November 2014, he said.

RSS planned to increase its presence in 55,435 mandals (clusters of ten or more villages), increasing the number of Shakhas there to 20,000 by 2018, he said.

PTI

Shah Rukh Khan is a Pakistani agent, should go to Pak: Sadhvi Prachi

Muzaffarnagar: Controversial Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi on Tuesday termed Shah Rukh Khan as a “Pakistani agent”, who should be sent to that country, a day after the Bollywood superstar added his voice to the protest against “extreme intolerance” in the country.

Controversial VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi. IBNLive

Controversial VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi. IBNLive

“Shah Rukh Khan is an agent of neighbouring coutry Pakistan as he reflects their (Pakistan’s) ideology. Such a man should go to Pakistan,” she said while talking to reporters in the court complex in Muzaffarnagar.

Not new to controversies, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader had earlier targeted actors Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan in March this year for “spreading a culture of violence” and advised youngsters not to idolise the Bollywood triumvirate.

Prachi, an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, also attended a BJP protest against alleged irregularities in counting of votes for district panchayat polls even as a Muzaffarnagar court issued a fresh bailable warrant against her for not appearing before it.

Earlier, a bailable warrant was issued on 23 October against several accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots case including Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan, BJP MLA Suresh Rana and Sadhvi Prachi.

PTI

Padma Shri awardee Maria Aurora Couto responds to charges of ignoring Goa’s communal issues

She and other awardees were said to have turning a blind eye when their associates Uday Bhembre and Nagesh Karmali “engaged in the most vicious hate speech against the Catholic community in the course of the Medium of Instruction controversy”.

“I am deeply saddened by the spiralling descent into communalism in Goa”, she said. (Image credir: Frederick Noronha)

Flickr
Padma Shri awardee and Goa’s eminent author Maria Aurora Couto who was accused of hypocrisy over only speaking about recent communal issues but disregarding ones happening in the state, has spoken about the controversy.Several Goa Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awardess including Couto had joined authors and poets from other parts of the countries to express their concern about the Dadri killing and murders of Hindutva dissenting rationalists. But they were blamed of only protesting against the recent communal violence but not speaking up for the Romani script used in Konkani language and the use of English language as medium of instruction (MOI) in schools.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: The hypocrisy of Goa’s protesting Sahitya Akademi awardeesShe and other awardees were said to have turning a blind eye when their associates Uday Bhembre and Nagesh Karmali “engaged in the most vicious hate speech against the Catholic community in the course of the Medium of Instruction controversy”. Responding to the above charges, Couto has said in her letter that she has never been against Konkani in Romi script. She wrote, “My position has been that children from the Goan Catholic community would be enriched by the knowledge of the Devanagiri script as it would enlarge their understanding and awareness of Indian literature, culture as well as political discourse, sometimes viciously anti-minority which is published in a script they cannot read.”
Regarding the MOI issue, she had said in her Press Note that MOI issue should not be turned into a communal one.”I am deeply saddened by the spiralling descent into communalism in Goa among my friends who have valiantly fought for secularism and liberal values all their lives. I pray they do not get derailed into converting their stated position on MOI into an ugly polarisation between Goa’s two major communities. Intolerance which is vitiating the air nationally will do irreparable damage to Goa’s legendary secular ethos,” she said.
Here is the full text of her letter:

BJP received ‘Modi oxygen’, will last till its popularity remains, says Shiv Sena

Mumbai: Continuing to target its ruling ally BJP, the Shiv Sena on Saturday said the former has received “Modi oxygen” in the form of power, which will last as long as its popularity among the masses remains intact.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led party also sent a strong message to the BJP saying its successful Dussehra rally indicated that the future belonged to the Sena and that it was prepared to fight the upcoming (poll) battles alone if needed.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

“The BJP has received Modi oxygen in the form of power. This oxygen will last till the subsidy of the popularity ends…Sena is standing firm on its thoughts, struggle and patriotism. The party has never changed its stand on the issues of Hindutva, patriotism, Maharashtra’s identity and issues concerning common man’s life. Our beliefs will not change at any cost,” the Sena said in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.

The party does not face challenge by anybody, it said adding, peoples’ support will ensure that the Sena’s flag flutters over Maharashtra in the future.

“The future belongs only to the Sena and the Dussehra rally of the party has sent this message across to everybody. We will fight it out with whosoever is willing to join us, or else, we are fully prepared to fight it out all alone with the confidence instilled in us by the Sena chief. Nobody should dare block our path!” it said.

The saffron party also hit out at NCP supremo Sharad Pawar apparently over hosting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his hometowm Baramati last week.

“With no work left in Delhi, Pawar has opened a new business of lodging and boarding and finding solace in hosting political leaders at Govind Baug in Baramati. With ageing, Pawar’s politics is also on the wane,” it said.

“Pawar’s politics is something that should not be taken seriously. You never know when he becomes secular and when he starts praising BJP,” the Sena said.

Taking a dig at Congress, it said the Sonia Gandhi-led party has become virtually a non-entity in Maharashtra. “There are no (Congress) leaders, workers and hence no voters.”

PTI

The hypocrisy of Goa’s protesting Sahitya Akademi awardees

For some years now, there have been demands from many quarters that Konkani literature written in the Roman script also be given governmental recognition

In the context of a number of Sahitya Akademi awardees across India returning their respective awards in protest against the growing intolerance in India, in Goa around 14 Sahitya Akademi awardees together with Padma Shri awardees Maria Aurora Couto and Amitav Ghosh came together and issued a joint statement on October 15, 2015. One would be struck by the hypocrisy contained in their press note released, were it not for the fact that their politics of intolerance is so blatantly displayed all over the same note.In their statement, these local notables condemn “the rising trend of intolerance in the country which threatens freedom of expression…[and] the age-old liberal and all-encompassing philosophical traditions of this country.” One would take this concern seriously were it not for the fact that many of these notables have been complicit not only in acts of intolerance themselves but also physical violence. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For some years now, there have been demands from many quarters that Konkani literature written in the Roman script should also be given governmental recognition. But Sahitya Akademi awardees like Pundalik Naik and N Shivdas, who have presided over the Goa Konkani Academy, have not felt it necessary to take up this cause and ensure that a Konkani tradition with a longer history than that of the Nagari script one is recognised. On the contrary, all of these protesting Sahitya Akademi awardees and Padma Shri Couto have watched silently while Roman-script Konkani has been officially ignored and excluded from all kinds of state recognition, including awards and grants. In addition, these persons have maintained a studious silence while their associates, such as Uday Bhembre and Nagesh Karmali, have engaged in the most vicious hate speech against the Catholic community in the course of the Medium of Instruction controversy (that has raged from 2011), when Goan parents demanded the right to determine the manner in which their children are educated. Where was their concern for the alleged liberal traditions, and traditional bonhomie, of Goa then? To make matters worse, these same notables watched silently when in 2005, Nagesh Karmali, a member of this very group of protestors, led a violent mob in destroying public and private property on the grounds that such property was encouraging Portuguese (read as Catholic) culture in Goa. Given that Goa has had a long and historical relationship with Portugal, doesn’t the violent smashing of manifestations of this relationship amount to an act of the very same rabid communalism that these worthies profess to protest against?In light of these inconsistencies, and the equally amusing announcement that they will hold on to their awards until the meeting of the executive committee of the Sahitya Akademi, it appears that these awardees seem more interested on jumping onto the bandwagon of political trendiness, than for any desire to stand against the growing intolerance in the country, and indeed, Goa itself.While it is true that the government of Narendra Modi has definitely presided over a rise in intolerance in the country, the roots of this intolerance lie deeper in the country’s history. As we have already pointed out, a number, if not all, of these Goan awardees, are complicit in this intolerance. Their complicity is further evident in the manner in which they phrase their protest within the language of Hindutva. Why, for example, are the recent acts compared to ‘Talibanism’, instead of calling them Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism? Talibanism is a phenomenon situated outside the country, while Hindutva is the problem actually at hand, given that MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar lost their lives as a result of their opposition to this ideology. Indeed, Hindu nationalism has been a problem since before Indian independence. In referencing the Taliban, these awardees continue the refusal to recognise Hindu nationalism as the single greatest cause of concern in this country since 1947.We would be more convinced of the genuine concerns of these state awardees from Goa if we heard them also protest the exclusion of Konkani in the Roman script from legislative recognition, also the violent condemnation of the Goans who are simply asking for English as a state-supported medium of instruction for their children, and also the lack of implementation of Constitutional guarantees for education and jobs to historically discriminated-against Goan communities. Such protests would go further in establishing norms for the respect of fundamental rights, and the establishment of law and order in our state and country.

Shiv Sena Dussehra rally: Dadri, not ink attack shame India, says Uddhav Thackeray

Defending the party’s actions against Kasuri book launch he said, “Incidents like Dadri, not the ink attack, shame India and lower country’s image. How did Dalit firing incident happen in Haryana?”

Thackeray said that the party acted in a democratic manner during the Kasuri episode”Responded with ink, since it was a book launch.”

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray addressed the party’s annual rally held on the Shivaji Park ground in Dadar. Shiv Sena got the clearance from the Bombay High Court to hold the rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai this year after separate applications moved by the BJP-led Maharashtra government and Shiv Sena, which also is part of the state government.”If VK Singh equates Dalits and dogs, why did you unveil Babasaheb’s memorial in Indu Mill?”, the party chief taunted BJP. PM Modi had commemorated Bal Thackeray at the Indu Mill. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defending the party’s actions against Kasuri book launch he said, “Incidents like Dadri, not the ink attack, shame India and lower country’s image. How did Dalit firing incident happen in Haryana?” Thackeray said that the party acted in a democratic manner during the Kasuri episode. “Responded with ink, since it was a book launch,” he said.He also spoke about India-Pakistan ties, “Keep culture and cricket aside, first sort out border issues.”He also hit out at the state BJP over the pulses price rise. “There was news that Dal worth 25 lacs stolen in Nagpur,” he said. “First protect Dal and then Pakistan,” he said.Thackeray talked about the party’s agenda, “We will not leave Hindutva, Marathi Manoos cause at any cost. We won’t compromise on that,” he said.

PM Modi greets Swayamsevaks on RSS’s 90th foundation day

The RSS was founded in September 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar on Dussehra day.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers during foundation day celebrations and Dussehra festival in Bhopal on Thursday.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra complimented the work of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) today on its 90th foundation day.The RSS was founded in September 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar on Dussehra day.In his annual Dussehra address in Nagpur, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat praised the Modi government for lifting the country from the mood of “despondency” and “creating an atmosphere of “hope and confidence” in the country, while enhancing its standing on the global stage.”Our country has stood as one and will stand as one. The Sangh has been doing the work of keeping the nation one on the basis of Hindutva for the last 90 years,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis among several others attended the event.

Doordarshan to telecast live Mohan Bhagwat’s Dussehra address

DD has insisted that its coverage is from the “news point of view”.

“Bhagwatji will address swayamsevaks and spell out the outfit’s agenda for the year,” a RSS functionary said.

File Photo
For the second consecutive year, Doordarshan will broadcast live RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s annual Dussehra address on Thursday to Hindutva organisation volunteers at a function in Nagpur. DD’s maiden live telecast of his address at the ‘Vijayadashmi Utsav’ last year had invited flak from the Opposition but the public broadcaster has insisted that its coverage is from the “news point of view”. The live telecast is driven by news point of view, a DD official said.Former DRDO chairman and NITI Aayog member Vijay Kumar Saraswat will be the chief guest at the event, scheduled to be held on the sprawling Reshmibag grounds in the south-eastern part of Nagpur. The RSS head uses the occasion, which coincides with the organisation’s foundation day as per the Hindu calendar, to talk about the outfit’s yearlong work and offer comments about events considered significant by it. “Bhagwatji will address swayamsevaks and spell out the outfit’s agenda for the year,” a RSS functionary said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhagwat’s speech tomorrow assumes significance against the backdrop of a host of controversies involving various Hindutva outfits and leaders. His recent statements in which he had suggested a review of the quota system had also invited much criticism from the Opposition parties, forcing ruling BJP to distance itself from its mentor.Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and a host of dignitaries from different walks of life are expected to attend the Vijayadashmi Utsav, a release from Vishwa Samwad Kendra said.

Sahitya Akademi writers, Pakistan have common goal of creating Modi-phobia: RSS

New Delhi: RSS on Tuesday painted with the same brush the recent protests by Shiv Sena in Mumbai, concerns raised by Pakistan about minority rights in India and writers relinquishing awards saying they are all agitating to “create Modi-phobia” and “save their own respective spaces”.

RSS organ ‘Organiser’ has said these forms of protests by writers and Pakistan have a common goal of creating phobia against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. AFP

Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. AFP

“We are witnessing different protests across the nation criticising the Modi-led NDA government for its track record on religious tolerance and freedom of speech and expression. In Mumbai, Shiv Sena, political ally of BJP, protested against the book launch of Pakistani leader Kasuri. Pakistan raised concerns about ‘growing intolerance’ and ‘status of minority rights’ in Bharat.

“Some ’eminent’ literary personalities expressed outrage over the ‘attacks on the freedom and secular fabric of Bharat’ by returning their awards. These protests may look different in their content but their intent seems to be the same — create Modi-phobia to save their own space,” the editorial says, lashing out at the wave of rebellion by Indian writers returning their awards in protest against the lynching of Mohammad Ikhlaq over suspicions of cow slaughter in Dadri.

The RSS publication has gone further to accuse the protesting writers of encouraging “ideological intolerance” by branding everyone talking in the name of Hindus as “Hindutva forces”.

While noting that the protest against Kasuri by Shiv Sena is understood as it has done so in the past and is driven by municipal election motives in Mumbai, the RSS organ says it is “intriguing by the manner in which eminent literary figures and intellectuals attempted the same goal as Shiv Sena and Pakistan”.

PTI

The Dadri debate: Here’s why most arguments about beef are flawed

The recent violence in Dadri, a village in an already lawless Uttar Pradesh, has seen an incredible outpouring of self-righteous indignation in India’s editorial columns. Typical of India – and elsewhere, in all likelihood – facts followed outrage and the picture as it stands now is a lot murkier. Nonetheless, violence was done, blood was shed, and food – specifically beef – was an ingredient in the story. The disproportionate response to a relatively minor issue – even the residents of Dadri have grown tired of the media circus – is telling of the complete disconnect between English language columnists and reality.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

If one were to go by the editorials, the temporary ban on beef during an important Hindu festival is an infringement of civil liberties and the violence in Dadri is the direct consequence of a rising tide of Hindutva politics led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – never mind the centuries of cultural sensitivities or local traditions.

This argumentation reveals a fundamental flaw in the Liberal enterprise – the assumption that society, each generation, begins tabula rasa, with no history, background, or tradition. Upon this blank slate, intellectuals and activists can fashion their dystopias. Yet reality cannot be further from this scenario: each community does have its own customs and ties that bind, society does find value in things extra-rational. If history is any indication, legislation that goes against the values of the majority will undoubtedly fail; worse, it may even create resentment against the group whom the legislation is supposed to benefit.

It takes brazen blindness to believe that food is not political, particularly beef and pork. In Spain, after the Reconquista, pork emerged as the primary marker of Christianity even ahead of partaking of the Eucharist at Mass. As Christian armies swept south and forcibly converted thousands in their path, they soon began to fear that the new converts might be reverting to their old faith in private. As a result, conversion ceremonies did not simply involve a profession of faith but were done over the consumption of the meat the convert’s former coreligionists found offensive to their sensibilities.

Avoidance of pork was serious enough an offence to send people before the Inquisition as plenty of records attest even to the torture and imprisonment of the accused. In El primer rey de Castilla, a play during the Siglo de Oro by the famous author Lopa de Vega, a character explains that he hung a side of bacon on his wall “so that the King will know that I am neither a Moor nor a Jew.” The same custom of conversion over pork was carried to India by the Portuguese.

Similarly, in India, the consumption of beef has been a sensitive issue in recent years not for dietary reasons but for religious and political ones. As has been pointed out by umpteen people, there is clear evidence of the consumption of meat – including beef and pork – and alcohol, perhaps even ephedra and marijuana, in ancient Hindu texts. What all those people have missed is that the Hindu way, unlike other religions, is not doctrinaire – Hindus are not averse to changing their ways depending on circumstances. Otherwise, it would be difficult to fathom several habits of the modern Hindu. Hindu culture has constantly evolved over the years and somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, it became taboo to consume certain items.

Despite the spiritual taboo, many Hindus today, including brahmins, do consume beef. The problem arises, however, when a great show is made of doing so; the only purpose of organising beef festivals is to provoke Hindus. Unfortunately, the response to provocations can be quite unpredictable and tragic. Legal recourse can certainly punish those who forgot themselves in a moment of anger but the damage would have been done and in cases like Dadri, are irreversible. Given India’s massive beef exports and thriving leather industry, most Hindus have clearly made peace with the entire industry. What causes a few to react violently under specific circumstances is worth investigating.

India’s liberals bemoan the ban of beef as a violation of their liberty, but their opportunistic whine deserves little attention. As Bangladeshi authress Taslima Nasrin recently noted, liberalism in India is highly selective and is essentially an anti-Hindu posture. The furore over the temporary curtailment of the availability of beef during a major Hindu holiday is ample demonstration that there is no basic decency left in India. Just as it would be rude to eat in public during the day in a Muslim country during Ramadan, or for that matter, insisting on consuming alcohol during dinner with a teetotaler friend who is uncomfortable with the consumption of liquor, it would simply be the civilised thing to do to abstain from beef publically at least during certain days of the year. Of course, the use of state machinery to enforce manners is as worrying as the need to remind people of their manners.

To repeat a point that has often been made, restrictions exist all over the world for certain kinds of food. If we debate why beef should be banned, should we also consider why horse meat is banned in some places? Dog meat? Cats? Does liberalism necessarily have to have only a provocative face and not a pragmatic one? For all the talk of secularism, it is interesting to note how many countries restrict the sale of alcohol on Sunday, the Christian holy day.

One of the smartest things Mohandas Gandhi did when he returned to India was to take a trip around India. He saw and understood the pulse of real India, not of the salons of London-educated lawyers of the Congress party who had still not been able to successfully win the hearts and minds of Indians. Gandhi did not support President Rajendra Prasad’s drive to ban beef but it is equally unlikely that he would have hosted or promoted a beef festival. It would behoove many social commentators today to follow in Gandhi’s footsteps – it is all well and good to sit and discuss beef-eating in the abstract in Colaba or Hauz Khas, feeling urbane and sophisticated, but the same issue has a very different and very potent valence in Mandoli or Udupi.

If the alleged opinion shapers of the country are so disconnected – disregarding? – from the majority of the country, it must be asked what role they play in the public sphere. Perhaps we will read about how there should be no crime, hunger, or disease next. And yes, the irony of criticising op-eds in an op-ed has not escaped unnoticed!

BJP ministers battle over police postings while beef theatrics polarise Jammu and Kashmir

By David Devadas

Rifts became evident within the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday, when Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed left a cabinet meeting in obvious displeasure. Ironically, the rift was not over the beef ban controversy which has hogged headlines over the past month. Apparently, it was not even a rift between the major coalition partners, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The issue was far more banal: Some BJP ministers could not agree over some of the proposed police transfers, and argued forcefully during the meeting. The cabinet did order some transfers, but the orders were changed thrice. Obviously, some BJP ministers’ main concern is to exercise power in areas they consider their turf. The state’s police force is extraordinarily powerful, and politicians use and misuse the force to exercise power — often extra-legal power.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AP

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AP

While party satraps tighten their control over the levers of power, they are insidiously polarising the state on communal lines. To-eat-or-not-to-eat-beef grandstanding is the populist scrap they have thrown to gullible voters.

On that sordid front too, there was no dearth of high drama on Monday. Troublemakers purporting to represent Hindus splashed dark ink on Independent MLA Rashid Ahmed at the Press Club of India — copying what Shiv Sena protestors had done last week in Mumbai to Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was once advisor to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Not long after the ink attack, Rashid’s supporters demonstrated at Srinagar’s press enclave. They carried professionally painted banners, which they had apparently obtained during a city shutdown. The target of the banners: ‘Modi’s form of democracy’ and ‘Modi’s Taliban’.

Anger was already intense in Kashmir over the death of 19-year old Zahid Rasool Bhat, who succumbed to burns on Sunday at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. He had suffered those burns when Hindu cow protection activists hurled a petrol bomb at a truck in which he was sleeping on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. That attack was a Hindutva response to a ‘beef party’ the same Rashid had hosted in Srinagar.

While Zahid’s body was buried on Monday morning, angry young Kashmiris pelted stones in inner city areas, in Zahid’s village Botengo and (uncharacteristically) at Narbal, a Shia stronghold. The government closed the highway, Kashmir’s lifeline. The long-awaited first convocation of the nine-year old Islamic University of Science and Technology, scheduled for Tuesday, was also postponed. Some students had apparently planned to demonstrate, and had written to the Registrar protesting against accepting degrees from Union Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani. The chief minister is the Chancellor.

Some observers now fear a repeat of 2008, when protestors demonstrated with stones in the Kashmir Valley following the transfer of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board, and locked down the Jammu division with virulently anti-Muslim-anti-Kashmir demonstrations following the subsequent cancellation of that order. The closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway by some RSS activists that year had caused fresh anti-India furore in Kashmir; the government had been at the end of its tether to restore calm. Kashmiri trucks, and a young truck driver, had been burnt then too.
Those ping-pong agitations had generated mutual hate in the state’s two main regions. Narratives of discrimination combined with communal hate to poison minds and hearts. The BJP was the main beneficiary. It could expect a landslide if the lethal beef dramatics were to pave the way to a separate Jammu state.

Although speculation about animosity has been relentless ever since this coalition was formed in early February, well informed observers believed there was a tacit understanding between Mufti and Prime Minister Modi — in place since last summer. If this version is to be believed, the publicly projected negotiations between Haseeb Drabu of the PDP and Ram Madhav of the BJP after the assembly elections were to some extent window dressing.

However, trust seems to be fraying. According to insiders, the prime minister was unresponsive when the chief minister met him in Delhi last week. During that visit to the capital, Mufti had visited Zahid and the other two victims of the Hindutva activists’ fire-bomb attack in hospital. The PDP made another powerful show of solidarity with the victims on Sunday: party president Mehbooba Mufti, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Law Minister Basharat Bukhari were at Srinagar airport to receive Zahid’s body, brought there on a state plane. Nine persons accused of Zahid’s murder were arrested and charged with murder, and also under the state’s draconian preventive detention law, the Public Safety Act (PSA).

However, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s response to a television question was unsteady and guarded. Stumbling over what word to use, he called Zahid’s murder an `incident.’

The cabinet’s unanimous condolence resolution evidently papered over divergences in the real feelings of the main coalition partners. If the two parties’ differences continue to widen, it could lead to a division of the state. If that is indeed what the BJP is working towards, it is a tragically flawed adoption of the Two-Nation Theory on which Pakistan was founded.

David Devadas, a political and international affairs expert, is the author of `In Search of a Future, the Story of Kashmir

BJP’s problem is its mentor: It can’t grow if RSS refuses to grow up

The unending beef controversies, especially the tendency of Sangh Parivar loudmouths to talk nonsense and embarrass the Narendra Modi government, show where the real problem lies: an unreformed and illiberal Sangh is a threat not only to the BJP government at the centre but its own longevity.

It does not matter what you think about cow slaughter or the consumption of beef – in a world where veganism is becoming chic, it is possible to logically argue the anti-beef case – but it does matter if you feel the need to impose your views on the rest of the world, even by violent action when words do not suffice. If, as one Panchajanya article reportedly argued, the Vedas prescribed death for cow slaughter, this fact cannot be used to condone or mitigate any call for murder today.

RSS cadres in Jharkhand on Sunday. PTI imageRSS cadres in Jharkhand on Sunday. PTI image

RSS cadres in Jharkhand on Sunday. PTI image

The Sangh may have a chip on its shoulder – sometimes with good reason – about rootless secularists and their anti-Hindu biases, but it will lose the argument if it does not liberate itself from the clutches of a reactionary and un-modern agenda. You can be justifiably proud of your Hindu heritage and still be modern enough to make your case rationally and sensibly. You can revere the Vedas without necessarily using every word in it as divinely ordained. To use the thoughts of the Vedas or the Gita unthinkingly is akin to doing these holy books a disservice.

The question the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, must ask itself is not how proud Indians must be of their heritage, but whether they – and modern day defenders of Hinduism – are worthy successors of that heritage. The creators of the Vedas and Upanishads were the noblest thinkers of their time; there can be doubts over whether today’s defenders of Vedas have an ounce of their high-thinking abilities.

The problem for the BJP is that it both needs the RSS and is constrained by the connection. Apart from foot soldiers to help it with elections, the RSS is the reason for the BJP’s existence, and so disowning it will do it no good. The BJP’s brand salience comes from the perception that it is a Hindu party – or at least not an anti-Hindu platform. So asking it to ditch the RSS – as some intellectuals are wont to do – is not only a tall order, but pointless. You don’t disown your roots.

However, this also creates a problem for the Modi government. What seemed like stray voices of the fringe now sounds like the mainstream in Sangh politics. One could dismiss assorted illiberal voices from the VHP or the Bajrang Dal as unrepresentative of the BJP’s own attitudes, but can it be easy for the Modi government to disown a Sakshi Maharaj, a Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, a Yogi Adityanath or – for that matter – a Haryana Chief Minister who manages to say something controversial about beef or women every other day? These are not fringe. These are the core of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar they come from. It will do no good for the party chief of even Modi himself to give the recalcitrants an occasional tongue-lashing for over-the-top comments that damage the party.They can only be reined in if the ideological fountainhead changes its way of thinking.

The organisation that really needs to embrace change is the RSS itself. It can, in fact, learn from its own history.

The Sangh was started by KB Hedgewar in 1925, possibly in response to real or imagined threats from the creation of a Muslim League that was formed 19 years before that. But the old Sangh was young in ideas and ideals – it saw man-making and building character as its prime purpose.

Even if you disagree with the purpose for which the RSS was set up, the fact remains that it had youthful energy in its early years under both Hedgewar and Guru Golwalkar, its second chief. It is not clear what the RSS thinks its purpose is today. Daily exercises and practicing self-defence with lathis may have made sense 90 years ago, but does that make sense today?

A key reason for the organisation’s relative decay – despite numerical growth – is its leadership’s age structure.

Consider these facts: Hedgewar started the Sangh at a still youthful 36 years of age. His successor, Golwalkar was 34 when he took over. But after that the age profile of RSS Sarsanghchalaks has been rising steadily towards gerontocracy.

Mohan Bhagwat, the current head of the RSS. PTI imageMohan Bhagwat, the current head of the RSS. PTI image

Mohan Bhagwat, the current head of the RSS. PTI image

Balasaheb Deoras became boss after Golwalkar when he was 58; his successor Rajju Bhaiya was 72 when he took over in 1994. KS Sudarshan was 69 when he got the job in 2000; Mohan Bhagwat, the current chief who took over in 2009, is 65 today.

As opposed to this, consider India’s age demographics: 46 percent of Indians are below 24 years of age; over 90 percent of Indians are below Bhagwat’s age.

There is no doubt in my mind that an RSS chief in his 40s would be vastly more in tune with today’s youth than someone in his mid-sixties.

This is not to confuse chronological age with old attitudes – you can be 65 and still young in thought, and Modi is one clear example of chronological age not representing shopworn ideas – but when an entire leadership is of that kind of age, it is unlikely to be in tune with where the country is heading.

Today’s young, especially the generation born after economic liberalisation in 1991, has different ideas about India. They do not lack reverence for the past, but they don’t want to be mired in it. They want to look ahead, with optimism and aspiration. Beef is not on top of their minds, even though they may be loath to consume it.

Also, the Sangh is almost entirely a patriarchy, often spouting misogynist talk. If the RSS wants to grow, its leadership must have women in the organisation and at the top, not just ageing men. Sealing women hermetically in a Durga Vahini is not good enough for today’s age.

The RSS leadership, apart from its surfeit of gerontocrats, clearly needs a reality check on young India. In an earlier article, this writer had provided a checklist for the RSS to see if it has a future (I reproduce them here in a modified form).

One, if its goal is serving Hindu society, should its agenda not include a very strong and explicit social component – like eliminating caste injustices or seeking broader inclusiveness and improved well-being of the people? This has to be top of the agenda, not somewhere at the bottom.

Two, even if its goal in only to serve Hindu society, how can this be done if it has an antagonistic attitude to Muslims? Is Hindu society served by making it fight Muslims, or by opening a dialogue with them?

Three, more important, the RSS must seek answers to the question of who or what is a Hindu. The term has two connotations – one is the religious one, where anyone who adopts Hindu forms of worship in a Hindu; the other is cultural, where anyone imbued with aspects of Indian culture is a Hindu. But, equally, it makes no sense insisting that Muslims – whether converted ages ago from Hinduism or born as Muslims who settled in India – must term themselves cultural Hindus. Everyone has the right to self-definition, and the RSS should not insist on meaningless shows of Hindu-ness – even culturally.

Four, the RSS has to sort out what from history is relevant to modernity and what is not. It has to decide what is truly valuable to its Hindu heritage, and what is not. And what is valuable can always be adapted to modernity. While it is in this area, it is worth asking itself: is building a temple in Ayodhya more important than merely getting Muslim society to accept the reality that Islamic rulers in the past did damage to many Hindu temples and icons? The former is an attempt to humiliate Muslims in India today; the latter is about truth and reconciliation. Even if Babar had demolished a temple to build the Babri, you can’t correct a historical wrong by demolishing a mosque today. Today’s Muslims were not responsible for Babar’s or Mir Baqi’s wrongs.

Five, the RSS has to accept the reality that there will be competition in the religious space. So if other religions are going to poach for marketshare in India, it has to gear up for the same by building long-term institutions like the Catholic Church. Banning conversions or seeking restrictions on missionaries is an acceptance of defeat. If the RSS truly believes in the values embedded in Hinduism, it has to accept the challenge and prepare for the long-term.

Six

, the RSS needs to start valuing intellectualism. The long-term future of any ideology depends on the intellectual input that a group can generate and sustain. The Left, despite being authoritarian and anti-intellectual in politics (Mao, Stalin, and our own Prakash Karat), has managed to dominate the intellectual space and academia in India and abroad for nearly two centuries. On the other hand, the RSS is suspicious of free-thinking intellectuals in the Hindu space. In fact, over the last half-century, I have seen only two persons – Arun Shourie and Rajiv Malhotra – emerge as true intellectuals in the Hindu space. (Though I must acknowledge there must be hundreds of unsung heroes here.) And the RSS has been unable to use them or grow new ones. The RSS cannot have a future without creating a solid intellectual base for growth.

Seven, the logic of any living organisation is growth. Without growth there can be no future. But growth needs constant scanning of the horizon for changed circumstances. Right now, the RSS is too mired in the past for its own or the country’s good. Most intelligent former swayamsevaks have left it behind and shifted to the social sphere – like KN Govindacharya, who now roots for the Aam Aadmi Party, or Sanjeev Kelkar, author of Lost years of the RSS, who left the RSS and now runs rural healthcare projects and empathises with Dalit causes. To have a future, the RSS needs a growth path without negativities and anti-minorityism.

To which I must add something I omitted the last time. If the RSS is not seen as women-friendly, it will lose out. Women are the key to its growth and sustenance as a viable organisation. An organisation where women have an equal role will be vastly more sensitive to commonsense and humanism than one manned entirely by men.

Sahitya Akademi awardee says Hindutva outfits need ‘mental cleansing’

Earlier, Pooja Shakun Pandey of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha said that the Buddhi Shuddhi yoga was conducted so that divine powers would restore some sense to the so-called intellectuals who had returned awards and accused them of being traitors.

Uday Prasad

On Sunday, the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha performed a mind cleansing ritual called Buddhi Shuddhi, in a bid to knock some sense into writers who’ve returning awards. Reacting the to the incident, Sahitya Akademi award winner Uday Prakash said that the it was the Hindutva outfits which needed cleansing from their homes so that ‘intolerant, violent and criminal tendencies can be kept under control’.He told a leading daily: “A two-and-a-half-year old girl was brutally raped in Delhi. She was kidnapped as the light suddenly went off when she was watching the Ramlila. The timing, place and occasion throw light on the kind of politics that is happening in the name of religion. Ahead of Durga puja, which is of significance and marks the festival of women power, we hear such stories. In such a scenario, I would advise the Hindutva forces to conduct the Buddhi Shuddhi of their own people.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, Pooja Shakun Pandey of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha said that the Buddhi Shuddhi yoga was conducted so that divine powers would restore some sense to the so-called intellectuals who had returned awards and accused them of being traitors. (Read: Student refuses to accept his MBA degree from HRD minister Smriti Irani)

From eating beef to pre-marital sex: Haryana CM ML Khattar’s pearls of wisdom

From commenting about beef-eating to the reasons for rise in rape cases, the former RSS man has often held extremely regressive views about society.

ML Khattar

ML Khattar, who became the Chief Minister of Haryana in October 2014, has a world view that doesn’t seem very different than that of a khap panchayat’s a form of governance.A former RSS man who spent 14 years with the organisation, Khatttar has made controversial statements in the past, when he’s blamed women’s clothing for rape and described pre-marital sex as something that’s wrong and happens when boys and girls aren’t on the right track.A beef with eating beef<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking about the horrific Dadri lynching incident, Khattar was quoted saying by Indian Express that the cow is an article of faith here and that a Muslim or Christian wouldn’t be violating their religious belief by not eating beef. He went on to say that the victim made a ‘halki tippani’ (loose comment) about the cow which hurt the sentiments of the people. He echoed the Union Minister of State Dr Mahesh Sharma’s sentiments, saying that it was a misunderstanding.He went on to compare the incident to a man seeing his mother being killed or his sister being molested (a fascinating comment which ties in with his statements about violence against women), saying ‘we have to go behind the incident and examine his manyata (mentality). We have to understand why he did what he did’.And finally Khattar explained what democracy meant to him with the statement: “Culturally, we are democratic. Democracy has freedoms, but those freedoms have a limitation. Freedom of one person is only to the extent that it is not hurting another person.” (Read: Is cow slaughter becoming the Hindutva equivalent of drawing the prophet?)The Haryana CM’s office later denied he actually said that Muslims have to give up eating beef.Short clothes = RapesML Khattar isn’t the first Indian politician to say this and he won’t be the last as he said blamed girls for the rising crimes against women. He said that girls needed to dress decently so as to ‘not attract the opposite sex’. He had said: “If a girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in the wrong way.”When asked about the freedom of choice of girls, he replied: “If you want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country’s tradition asks girls to dress decently.”No pre-marital sex please The former RSS man has also in the past deplored pre-marital sex calling it ‘ulti-seedhi cheezein’ (the most literal translation would be monkey business)He has said: “Pre-marital sex is a blot. Sex after marriage is acceptable. Pre-marital sex happens as the minds of the girls and boys are not on the right track.” Adding that this where Khaps could help: “Khaps maintain the tradition of a girl and boy being brother and sister. They are just making sure that a girl and boy do not see each other in the wrong way. These rulings help prevent rapes too.”I love Khaps and I cannot lie Other than the Khap’s aforementioned efforts in making sure boys and girls behave like brothers and sisters, he has praised them for being part of our ‘traditions’.At a function he had said: “Even today, Khaps are playing an important role in redressing public grievances as well as strengthening the feeling of brotherhood. However, time and again, many misconceptions are spread about Khaps that they are unconstitutional bodies, but I have always been saying that Khaps act as custodian of our social customs,” he said.Now one could dismiss Khattar’s views as that of an old man slightly out of touch with the times, but ML Khattar is the Chief Minister of a state with an alarmingly decreasing sex ratio. According to the 2011 census, the state has the lowest sex ratio in India where 877 females for every 1000 males. And with a CM, who clearly thinks that men and women, boys and girls don’t deserve the same rights and freedoms, is truly disturbing.

Sahitya Akademi awards pile up gets bigger as leading Rajasthani author also returns prize

Jaipur/New Delhi: Leading Rajasthani and Hindi writer Nand Bhardwaj on Thursday returned his Sahitya Akademi award to denounce “rising religious intolerance and attack on freedom of expression”, as the CPI-M hailed the protesting writers for doing the country proud.

In a letter addressed to Sahitya Akademi, Bhardwaj said: “There is growing concern among writers and intelligentsia against attacks and killing by hardline communal forces and the failure of Sahitya Akademi to stand up for them (writers).

“I praise the writers who have returned the awards, and I also want to return my award, which I won in 2004 for my Rajasthani novel ‘Samhi Khulto Marag’,” Bhardwaj said. He also sent back the prize money of Rs 50,000.

Image courtesy: Sahitya Akademi website

Image courtesy: Sahitya Akademi website

Bhardwaj has become the latest of Indian writers drawn from various languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Tamil, Gujarati and Assamese to return their awards, primarily those conferred by Sahitya Akademi.

Most were upset over the Sahitya Akademi’s failure to come out in defence of MM Kalburgi after he was murdered in Karnataka on 30 August. A few also spoke out against the lynching of a Muslim man near Delhi over rumours that he killed a cow and ate beef.

In Panaji, Goa writers came down on what they said was a rising culture of intolerance towards freedom of speech but said they would not be returning their awards for now.

Eleven Konkani award-winning writers told the media that they would create a lobby of other creative artists and other Padma award winners from Goa.

“We are disheartened by the lack of adequate response of the Sahitya Akademi following the murder of Kalburgi,” writer Damodar Mauzo said.

“While we have resolved not to return our awards, we are conveying our sentiments to the Akademi. We want them to speak out at the meeting of the committee which will be held soon,” he said.

The press conference was also addressed by writers Pundalik Naik, Dilip Borkar, Datta Naik, Hema Naik, Nagesh Karmali and N. Shivdas. They also vowed to protest at the forthcoming 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

West Bengal Governor KN Tripathi, however, accused writers returning the awards of being politically motivated.

“Several incidents occurred in the country from the time they received the award… It makes one wonder if there is a small group who are lobbying for the return of these awards,” Tripathi said in Kolkata.

“How it is that none of them were prompted to return the awards earlier and why now?” he asked. “Why did they not return the award when the (2013) Muzaffarnagar riots happened?”

The CPI-M, however, hailed the Indian writers for doing the country proud.

“What is heartening about the writers’ protest action is the range and variety of the writers who have stood up to be counted,” an editorial in the CPI-M organ “People’s Democracy” said.

“What binds them is their deep moorings in secular and democratic values. It is a clear and bold expression of how the country will not succumb to Hindutva authoritarianism,” it said.

“By returning the awards bestowed on them and by resigning from the positions they hold in the Akademi, they have also spoken out against the growing attacks on plurality and cultural diversity by the Hindutva forces,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.

The protest began with important Kannada writers returning their awards to the Kannada Sahitya Parishat on the slow progress in the Kalburgi murder investigation.

IANS

Vishwa Hindu Parishad vows to fight Love Jihad, this Ayudha Puja

The Navratri festival starts on October 13
File Photo

While Hindu right-wing groups in Gujarat have sought to bar the entry of Muslims at garba events to prevent ‘Love Jihad’ incidents, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has turned aggressive and is planning a worship of weapons and Hindutva jagran (awareness) across the country during the Navratri festival for women to counter ‘Love Jihad’.The Navratri festival starts on October 13 and ends on 22.The Sangh Parivar uses Love Jihad as a moniker for Muslim boys or men luring girls from Hindu or non-Islamic communities into love and subsequent marriage and religious conversion.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“We will organise a recitation of hymns like the Durga saptashati and shastrapujan (worship of arms) for women and girls,” VHP secretary Vyankatesh Abdeo told dna, adding this will be done in every district and every city across the country.The VHP has also called on its supporters to chant the name of Lord Ram from 11.15 am to 12.30 pm on November 25 to pray for “eradicating the obstacles” in construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, said Abdeo. The VHP is seeking a law for the construction of a Ram temple.Abdeo said a Hindutva jagran will be conducted to counter Love Jihad. “Girls will be made aware of it to enable them to unite and counter this conspiracy. It (jagran and worship of weapons) will also give them confidence to defend themselves on their own,” he said Abdeo.The campaign will be conducted during Navratri by the VHP’s women’s wing, Matrushakti and Durga Vahini. It will be held at 2,000 locations in India, of which 300 will be in Maharashtra, said Abdeo.“When women come for the programme, we will put forth the problems faced (by Hindus)… including Love Jihad, terrorism, population explosion and women’s security,” said Meenakshi Pishve of Matrushakti. “Hindu girls are being enticed by Muslim boys. This is bad for Sanatan Dharma,” she said. Another Matrushakti member said the programme was meant to awaken women, with the ceremonial worship of weapons by girls serving to create confidence in their minds. “After all, women are an embodiment of shakti (power)… but don’t get their due in society,” she added.However, Shubha Shamim, state committee member of the CPM’s All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), said this reflected a patriarchal mindset, which wanted to control the choices of girls and women. “Constitutionally, girls over 18 years and boys over 21 years have the right to choose their life partners. Caste and religion are secondary,” she said, adding these choices could go wrong even when girls chose a partner from their own communities.Abdeo said a Sant Sammelan held during the recent Kumbh Mela at Nashik saw resolutions on the Ram temple law, a nation-wide legislation to ban slaughter of cows and bullocks and for an end to untouchability. The VHP will also conduct programmes in October and November to train new volunteers and acclimatise them about the work of the organisation.It had held a ‘Ram Utsav’ in March with religious discourses, ceremonies and processions being held to seek the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya, which remains one of the centerpiece agendas of the Sangh Parivar.

dna Afternoon Must Read: From IMF’s optimistic projection about India to latest in Dadri case and more

Here is a curated list of top 5 stories at afternoon.

1. Is Indian Air force suffering due to PM Modi’s ‘Make In India’ initiative?India’s government has turned down the military’s request to expand the acquisition of 36 fighter planes from Dassault Aviation SA to plug vital gaps, officials said, nudging it to accept an indigenous combat plane 32 years in the making.Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision, in line with his Make-in-India policy to encourage domestic industry, is a blow for not only the French manufacturer but also others circling over the Indian military aviation market worth billions of dollars. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. IMF sees India retaining fastest growing economy tag next year tooIndian economy is expected to grow faster than other major emerging economies, said the International Monetary Fund has said, projecting a growth rate of 7.5% for India in 2016 as against China’s 6.3%. “Growth in India is expected to rise above the rates in other major emerging market economies,” the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook update. “India’s growth is expected to strengthen from 7.3% this year and last year to 7.5% next year. Growth will benefit from recent policy reforms, a consequent pickup in investment, and lower commodity prices,” it said. Read More 3. Strongest action against those who disrupt communal harmony, warns Rajnath SinghStrongest possible action will be taken against those who try to disrupt communal harmony in the country, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday, days after a man was lynched in UP’s Dadri district over beef consumption rumours.”Be it the state government or the central government, strongest possible action will be taken against those who try to break communal harmony in the country,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi. The Home Minister was replying to a question about tension in Dadri where a Muslim man was lynched by a mob over allegation of beef consumption. Read More 4. Madhesis to continue Nepal-India border blockade until demands metNepal’s United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) on Wednesday told the negotiators of the Government that their blockade of entry points on Nepal-India border would continue until their demands were met.According to The Himalayan Times, UDMF negotiator Sarvendranath Shukla told the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the Unified CPN-Maoist that they should come with a roadmap when they sit for talks again tomorrow. Read More 5. ‘Hindutva’ ideology ruining name of Hindus everywhere, says Nayantara SahgalEminent writer Nayantara Sahgal, the niece of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who returned her ‘Sahitya Akademi’ Award over the Dadri lynching case, said on Wednesday that the rampant ‘Hindutva ideology’ was ruining the name of Hindus in the nation.”The prevailing situation of the country is very pathetic. The Hindutva ideology which is going on in the country right now is ruining the name of the Hindus and as a Hindu myself, I am very hurt,” Sahgal said.With Agency inputs

‘Hindutva’ ideology ruining name of Hindus everywhere, says Nayantara Sahgal

Eminent writer Nayantara Sahgal, the niece of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who returned her ‘Sahitya Akademi’ Award over the Dadri lynching case, said on Wednesday that the rampant ‘Hindutva ideology’ was ruining the name of Hindus in the nation.

(File Photo, image by Ramesh Lalwani) Wikimedia Commons

Eminent writer Nayantara Sahgal, the niece of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who returned her ‘Sahitya Akademi’ Award over the Dadri lynching case, said on Wednesday that the rampant ‘Hindutva ideology’ was ruining the name of Hindus in the nation.”The prevailing situation of the country is very pathetic. The Hindutva ideology which is going on in the country right now is ruining the name of the Hindus and as a Hindu myself, I am very hurt,” Sahgal said.A day ago Sehgal returned the Sahitya Akademi award in protest against increasing intolerance towards right to dissent in the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the “reign of terror”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sahgal, who received a Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for her English novel ‘Rich Like Us (1985)’, said, “The ruling ideology today is a fascist ideology and that is what is worrying me now. We did not have a fascist government until now… I am doing whatever I believe in.”Citing various incidents of killings of writers and rationalists including M M Kalburgi and Govind Pansare, she alleged, “Rationalists who question superstition, anyone who questions any aspect of the ugly and dangerous distortion of Hinduism known as Hindutva whether in the intellectual or artistic sphere, or whether in terms of food habits and lifestyle are being marginalised, persecuted, or murdered.”Sahgal told PTI that “Modi is a politician who knows how to speak. He has given long speeches. On twitter and other social media he is vocal. He should be responsible for (what is happening) in the country.”The author further added that under Modi’s government, “India is going backwards. It is rejecting our great idea of cultural diversity and debate and it is narrowing down to an invention called Hindutva.”

Dadri lynching pre-meditated, well planned by the Hindutva forces: DU, JNU fact-finding panel

Ample evidence available to suggest that the incident did not take place on the spur of the moment

Dadri murder well planned by the Hindutva forces.

File Photo
The lynching of a 50-year-old Muslim man in Dadri over rumours of eating beef did not happen on the “spur of the moment” and was planned by certain Hindutva forces, a ‘fact-finding’ committee of academicians from JNU and Delhi University, among others, has claimed. The group, Janhastakshep, also accused the Uttar Pradesh government of allowing “free play” to the communal forces and demanded a high-level inquiry into killing of Akhlaq and punishment to the guilty.”There was ample evidence available to suggest that the incident did not take place on the spur of the moment and had been well planned by the Hindutva forces.”It was implemented through a maze of front organisations other than those associated with Sangh Parivar so it is established that such an event cannot be directly attributed to the Sangh,” Ish Mishra, Janhastakshep convenor told reporters. The team came out with its findings after visiting the Bishada village where Iqlakh was bludgeoned to death on September 28 by a 200-strong mob over rumours about storing and consuming beef. His 22-year-old son Danish was grievously injured in the assault. Cow slaughter is banned in Uttar Pradesh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our investigation of the events leading up to the murder and grievous injury sustained by his son reveals that the incident is an extension of new genre of low intensity, high impact communal tension targeting the Muslims and instilling the fear of brute power of the majority community among the Muslim masses,” said Vikas Bajpai, a JNU professor while releasing the report. The group also condemned the remarks made by Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, terming the incident an “accident resulting from misunderstanding”, and demanded that he be removed from the Ministry and an FIR be filed against him. “We also demand that action be taken against local police for its failure to restrain the local communal elements and for failing to keep track of the activities of numerous senas which have been active in vitiating the atmosphere in the area,” Mishra said.

Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal returns Sahitya award, blames Narendra Modi for ‘reign of terror’

She also accused the Sahitya Akademi of being silent (File Photo, image by Ramesh Lalwani)

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Eminent author and niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, Nayantara Sehgal on Tuesday returned the Sahitya Akademi award in protest against increasing intolerance towards right to dissent in the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the “reign of terror”. Sehgal, who received a Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for her English novel ‘Rich Like Us (1985)’, said, “The ruling ideology today is a fascist ideology and that is what is worrying me now. We did not have a fascist government until now… I am doing whatever I believe in.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Citing various incidents of killings of writers and rationalists including MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare, she alleged, “Rationalists who question superstition, anyone who questions any aspect of the ugly and dangerous distortion of Hinduism known as Hindutva whether in the intellectual or artistic sphere, or whether in terms of food habits and lifestyle are being marginalised, persecuted, or murdered.”Most recently, a village blacksmith, Mohammed Akhlaq, was dragged out of his home in Bishada village outside Delhi, and brutally lynched, on the supposed suspicion that beef was cooked in his home, the 88-year-old author said in a statement. “In all these cases, justice drags its feet. The Prime Minister remains silent about this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology. It is a matter of sorrow that the Sahitya Akademi remains silent….Also read- MM Kalburgi murder: Six awardees to return Kannada Sahitya Parishat honour”In memory of the Indians who have been murdered, in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent, and of all dissenters who now live in fear and uncertainty, I am returning my Sahitya Akademi Award,” said Sehgal, who in the past also strongly criticised imposition of the Emergency in 1975 by her cousin late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.She said that “Modi is a politician who knows how to speak. He has given long speeches. On twitter and other social media he is vocal. He should be responsible for (what is happening) in the country.”Also read- Dadri lynching: The story of Narendra Modi’s silence and selective liberal outrageReferring to recent speech by Vice-President Hamid Ansari reminding people about Constitution promises of ‘liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship’, she said, “He found it necessary to do so because India’s culture of diversity and debate is now under vicious assault.” The author further added that under Modi’s government, “India is going backwards. It is rejecting our great idea of cultural diversity and debate and it is narrowing down to an invention called Hindutva.” Read the open letter here.

dna must read for the evening: Mahesh Sharma, Naxals, Nobel Prize and Russia

dna evening Must Reads

dna webdesk
Here are some of the must read stories on dna for the evening:1) Mahesh Sharma booked for inflammatory remarks in Dadri lynching case: The police has filed a case against Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, BJP leader Sangeet Som and and BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiquifor inflammatory remarks over the Dadri killing. Mohammad Akhlaq, a Dadri local was killed by a mob of over 200 over rumours of consuming beef. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Three TDP leaders held captive by Naxals in Andhra Pradesh: Three local Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders have been held captive allegedly by Naxals in Visakhapatnam district, police said on Tuesday.3) Is cow slaughter becoming the Hindutva equivalent of drawing the Prophet?: The Dadri incident isn’t just heinous because of the fact that a man was mercilessly beaten to death for allegedly consuming beef. What’s more worrying is the reaction from the political class. It all started with the forensic team testing the meat to see if it was actually beef and the victim’s daughter asking: “Will they bring my father back if it isn’t beef?”​4) 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics: Japan’s Takaaki Kajita and Canada’s Arthur B. McDonald won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery that neutrinos have mass, the award-giving body said on Tuesday.5) NATO rejects Russia explanation on Turkish air space: NATO on Tuesday rejected Moscow’s explanation that its warplanes violated the air space of alliance member Turkey at the weekend by mistake and said Russia was sending more ground troops to Syria.

Won’t allow Muslims at Garba to prevent love jihad: Right-wing group in Gujarat

Ahmedabad: A right-wing group on Monday said it had issued a “diktat” barring entry of Muslims at Garba events during the upcoming Navratri festival at Mandvi town in Gujarat’s Kutch district to prevent “love jihad” incidents.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We have issued a diktat barring the entry of Muslims at Garba events in Mandvi,” said president of Hindu Yuva Sangthan, Raghuvirsinh Jadeja, who is also chief of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of the Mandvi tehsil unit.

“Incidents of love jihad where Muslim boys lure and marry our Hindu girls happen at Garba. Our only aim is to protect our girls,” Jadeja told PTI.

“We are getting a good response from the people and if the people from other regions respond to this movement, then we will spread it to their regions as well,” he said.

The organisation will ensure that any person entering the Garba pandal has a tilak on his forehead, and ‘Gaumutra'(cow-urine) will be sprayed on him, he said.

“If a person does not apply tilak and hesitates to be sprayed with Gaumutra, he will not be allowed to go inside.

“My people would do patrolling outside and inside Garba events and if they find any non-Hindus, they would exclude them,” he said.

When asked how will they identify non-Hindus, he said, “We can identify such elements.”

PTI

Bihar polls: Shiv Sena to contest over 150 seats, says Sanjay Raut

NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has no significant presence in Bihar, on Sunday announced it was jumping in the poll fray in the state on its own, and claimed its “anti-migrant” image was due to “canard” spread by rivals.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut

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NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has no significant presence in Bihar, on Sunday announced it was jumping in the poll fray in the state on its own, and claimed its “anti-migrant” image was due to “canard” spread by rivals.Party’s national spokesperson Sanjay Raut told reporters that Sena, which is ruling Maharashtra in alliance with BJP, will contest 150 seats in Bihar, where BJP-led alliance is locked in a stiff contest with the Nitish Kumar-led coalition of JD(U)-RJD-Congress.Denying that his party has antipathy for Bihar people, Raut said that on the contrary the people of Maharashtra have strong emotional ties with their counterparts here and respect the Biharis for their patriotism, valour and contributions to freedom struggle.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked about allegations of atrocities against migrants, including those from Bihar, in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, Raut dismissed them claiming that there was no example of Shiv Sena and its workers targeting migrants. He alleged that some politicians in Bihar were spreading “canard” instead of focusing on development of the state.”Some politicians of Bihar are more interested in happenings in Mumbai and making noise about atrocities on migrants than actually doing something for development of the state,” the Shiv Sena leader told reporters on the sidelines of his party’s state convention here.He said the party has decided to contest the polls in the state on the agenda of Hindutva, poverty alleviation and employment generation. He said the process for selection of Shiv Sena candidates for the polls to 243-member Bihar Assembly, which will be in held in five phases from October 12, was nearly complete and the first list will be out by tomorrow.Quizzed why Shiv Sena had not joined the BJP-led alliance, he said that his party wants to strengthen its support base in Hindi belt and empower the local people.The Shiv Sen and BJP had ended their 25-year-old alliance before the Maharashtra Assembly polls last year over seat sharing. Though the two reunited after the poll results to form a government, the strain in ties has been visible with Sena being openly critical of its dominant partner.The Shiv Sena leader also took potshot at BJP’s allies in Bihar saying they have been guilty of ideological bankruptcy. He said a leader who had resigned from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government post-Gujarat riots in 2002 was part of the NDA, a refernce to LJP supremo Ramvilas Paswan.

Kalburgi’s murder: Karnataka is no state for people with progressive views

By Aravind S Kamal

It is risky being a ‘rationalist’ in Karnataka these days and it becomes riskier if you are outspoken about your views. After eminent Kannada scholar and rationalist MM Kalburgi was gunned down for his views on idol worshipping, the latest target of the religious extremists is Professor KS Bhagwan, a retired professor from the Mysuru University.

A few Hindutva sections were angry after Bhagwan took on the priestly class and Brahmins in a chat show on a leading Kannada television channel. A letter, threatening Professor Bhagwan, was delivered at his home even after the police have provided him with 24/7 security cover.

Not to be cowed down, Prof Bhagwan has vowed to counter such hardliners. “All that I can say is that these people have not even read what I wrote or interpreted my viewpoints. I undertake extensive research before making public statements. Anyway, this is not for the first time that I have been threatened by these fanatics,” he said.

Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi was recently killed in Bengaluru. PTIKannada scholar MM Kalburgi was recently killed in Bengaluru. PTI

Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi was recently killed in Dharwad. PTI

The police in Dakshina Kannada district had arrested a leader of the Bajrang Dal for threatening Prof Bhagwan. The incident was soon after Dr. Kalburgi’s murder. Bhagwan, however, is not the only person who is facing threats from the Hindutva hardliners. Jnanapith laureate Girish Karnad, renowned Kannada writer and novelist SL Bhyrappa, and social reformer and seer Sri Veerabhadrachannamalla Swami of Nidumamidi Mutt have been on the ‘hit-list’ for a while now. The Karnataka government has realised the seriousness of these threats and has been quick in providing police security to all of them following Dr. Kalburgi’s death.

Girish Karnad in particular has often been the target of the extremists, especially for endorsing beef consumption. He has also been a vocal supporter of rationalists like Dr. Kalburgi. “This is a worrying trend… This is not part of our Kannada culture. All of us have the right to express our opinions. We are in trouble if this kind of incident grows,” he lamented.

Echoing a similar view, well-known Kannada writer and filmmaker Dr. Baragur Ramachandrappa, remarked that killing is not the answer to everything. “All of us have views and counter views. People may differ with writers and rationalists, but killing or threatening is not acceptable,” he maintained.

It is not just rationalists and writers, who are being targeted and threatened by Hindu activists. Even, progressive seers, who are working for the cause of inclusive growth in society, have not been spared. It is now common for Sri Veerabhadrachannamalla Swami to be threatened after he criticized the caste system and called upon his counterparts (Jagadgurus) to stop promoting communities on the basis of Mutts. There are plenty of Mutts (religious centers) headed by their respective gurus for Brahmins, Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Kurubas and other influential communities in Karnataka. The heads of these Mutts simply despise Sri Veerabhadrachannamalla Swami for questioning the caste system.

“These kinds of threats to people like us will only make us stronger. I am part of their (fundamentalists) hit-list since several years. But that does not scare me. It is time that the law enforcement agencies reined in on such people. The government should take these threats seriously in view of the latest developments,” he said.

Wendy Doniger all over again: Hindutva forces targeting scholar MM Basheer is just wrong

Raskhan, Taj and Maulana Hasrat Mohani are some of great Muslim poets whose verses on Lord Krishna are as powerful an expression of love and devotion as Mira and Surdas. More recently, a Christian Jesuit father Kamil Bulke was known as a scholar on Ramayana and had earned unqualified adulation from scholars of Hindu religions for his interpretation of Ramcharitmans’ verses.

MM Basheer. IBNLive

MM Basheer. IBNLive

Father Kamil Bulke died in 1982 much before the emergence of a lunatic fringe of the Hindutva family which enforces its own world-view of Hindu religion. Once again, the manner in which a Ramayana scholar MM Basheer from Kerala was targeted for writing a series on Ramayana reflected an intolerant mindset of the fringe. Basheer got threatening calls for writing on Lord Rama and attributing human qualities to the God.

Basheer is not the only one who described the limited personality of Rama. For instance, socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia, in his brilliant eassay on Lord Rama, Krishna and Shiva vividly described Lord Rama’s personality by saying, “another rich story is told of the limited personality Rama, of the circle of rules and constitution drawn around his authority which he never overstepped, to whose unquestioned submission he owes the three and four blemishes of his life.” In Lohia’s essay, Rama’s virtue as a character bound by social codes is extolled to no end.

But scholarly debates have never been forte of Pravin Togadia, Mahant Adityanath, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Dinanath Batra. Though it is still unknown as to which organisation is responsible for persecuting Basheer, there are ample evidence to prove that an American indologist Wendy Doniger had faced the persecution of the same kind by this fringe of the Hindutva forces. Her two books – The Hindus: An Alternative History and On Hinduism – were pulped by the publishers (Viking Penguin and Aleph-promoted by Rupa publishers) without assigning any reasons during the UPA regime in March 2014. Obviously, the publishers found the heat turned on them by Dinanath Batra too unbearable and recalled the books. Batra had filed cases against the publishers and Doniger and accused them of distorting Hindu mythologies and religious texts with sexual overtones.

What is particularly disturbing is the trend that Hinduism, despite its varied hues, is sought to be made into a homogenous entity. Apparently, Ramayana has different versions which are often critical of Lord Rama’s conduct. In Tamil nadu, Periyar’s movement, that resulted in Dravidian assertion in Tamil Nadu, was founded on philosophy that contradicted North India’s version of Ramayana.

However a radical group known as loony fringe of the Hindutva family is never hesitant to articulate its views on Hinduism and idea of India. This was also reflected in VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s demand to enforce two-child norm on Muslims to check their population growth. The fact that Togadia’s views found resonance in section of the Sangh Parivar raises concern. This is not the first time Togadias and certain sadhavis have been using language designed to stoke communal tension. With the BJP ruling at the Centre and Narendra Modi as the helm, these provocative utterances draw much attention. But the reality is that the governments, irrespective of their political denominations, have hardly taken any effective measure to counter this streak of growing intolerance.

Change of canopy sparks row in Ayodhya

“We contacted IIT-Roorkee for the job considering their well-known expertise in fire-proofing,” Faizabad divisional commissioner Surya Prakash Mishra told reporters, adding that the IIT experts’ team would be visiting the site for a preliminary survey on August 30.

The Faizabad district administration has asked experts from IIT-Roorkee to provide a fireproof canopy over the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya. But, the move has already set off a controversy, even though the work is to be done under the orders of the Supreme Court, under the strict eye of judicial observers appointed by the court.While the Muslim parties to the Ayodhya dispute are wary that this could be part of a conspiracy by the Hindutva forces to exploit the opportunity to raise the demand for a permanent structure in place of the present temporary one, a prominent Hindu seer has called for an enquiry into how the canopy has been damaged within a year of being replaced.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We contacted IIT-Roorkee for the job considering their well-known expertise in fire-proofing,” Faizabad divisional commissioner Surya Prakash Mishra told reporters, adding that the IIT experts’ team would be visiting the site for a preliminary survey on August 30.On August 11, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had allowed changing of the damaged tarpaulin cover over the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya while hearing a petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. The work would be carried out with two additional judges and representatives of the Sunni Waqf Board, a party in the dispute, as observers.After the 1992 demolition, the Supreme Court had prohibited any new construction in and around the disputed site.The oldest litigant in the case, Mohd Hashim Ansari says there might be some “mischief” behind Swamy’s petition. “He (Swamy) is a cunning person. He could be plotting something,” he told reporters after the apex court order for change of the damaged canopy. Ansari said the order could trigger off fresh demands from saffron brigade leaders for the construction of a Ram temple there.The expenses of the canopy change would be met out of the offerings the devotees make to the lord, a senior Faizabad district administration official said, adding that it could be anywhere between Rs3 to 5 lakh.The damage to the tarpaulin was noticed first in November last year, about three months after it had been replaced on the apex court’s order.”In past years, the tarpaulin had never been damaged, and its minimum age was three years. It was said to be waterproof and of the best quality. Then how did it get damaged so easily,” said Ranjeet Lal Sinha, counsel of the Nirmohi akhara, a party on the Hindu side in the title suits.”Inferior quality material has been deliberately used so that the demand for a permanent structure over the disputed shrine can be raised in the Supreme Court. This is the hidden agenda of the VHP,” said Khaliq Ahmad Khan, a petitioner from the Muslim side.Inquiry neededGyan Das, mahant of the famous Hanumangarhi Temple of Ayodhya, has demanded an inquiry into how the tarpaulin cover got damaged. He pointed out that the canopy had been replaced only last year. “This is a high security area. How did the covers get damaged? This calls for an inquiry,” he said.

Government intervention in academic matters has become ‘politically extreme’, says Amartya Sen

“And often enough, the persons chosen for heading institutions of national importance have been exceptionally dedicated to promoting Hindutva priorities,” he adds.

Amartya Sen

The extent of government intervention in academic matters has become “extraordinarily common” and often “politically extreme” under the NDA regime, says Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.He, however, says this is not the first time that a government has interfered in academic matters with its own views as the previous UPA government’s record in non- interference was “far from impeccable”. “But the extent of intervention has become extraordinarily common and often politically extreme under the present regime,” 81-year-old Sen writes in his new book “The Country of First Boys”, in which he tries to seek an understanding of India’s history and the demands of its future.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”And often enough, the persons chosen for heading institutions of national importance have been exceptionally dedicated to promoting Hindutva priorities,” he adds. The 1998 Economics Nobel winner then cites the example of the newly-appointed head of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, saying he “may not be known for research in history, but his Hindutva- oriented opinions are well-known”.Similarly, the new head of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), Lokesh Chandra, has shared with us his view that Modi is, in fact, “a reincarnation of God”, he says.Published by Oxford University Press, the book also has essays on justice, identity, deprivation, inequalities, gender politics, education, the media and the Nalanda University. Sen alleges that the new government has been active in trying to impose its own views on many academic institutions, and Nalanda University is not the only such institution the intellectual independence of which has been under considerable threat in recent months.On May 30, the government announced that former Foreign Minister of Singapore George Yeo will be the new Chancellor of the Nalanda University, over two months after Sen withdrew his candidature to the post for a second term, claiming the Narendra Modi government does not want him to continue. According to Sen, it will remain “extremely important for the government to live up to our hope that Yeo will have the independence he would need to make Nalanda an academic success in line with its vision, rather than its going down the sectarian way the ICHR and the ICCR have gone”. Sen says he decided to quit when it became clear to him that the conflict between the government and the Governing Board of Nalanda on the subject of my continuing as chancellor was proving to be a barrier to the urgent work of rebuilding Nalanda.”…In view of the fact that I have freely spoken about my skepticism of Mr Modi’s qualifications to lead a secular country, I was not entirely surprised to encounter governmental hostility to my continuing as chancellor. “If there was a personal element in the hostility (even though I have had good personal relations with many other BJP leaders), the bigger issue was that of the academic independence of Nalanda University, rather than having to be in conformity with the political priorities of the ruling party.”Sen says the conflict between Nalanda and the government relates in particular to the importance of academic independence so that institutions of higher learning like Nalanda do not have to conform to the will and the whims of victorious politicians. The essays in the collection were written over a decade and a half, and they deal with a diversity of subjects. The common thread, according to Sen, is that all these articles share an interest in India seen in a non-sectarian perspective, and reflect a concern with equity and justice.

‘There are 1-2 terrorists in the Parliament’: Sadhvi Prachi courts controversy yet again

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sadhvi Prachi is at it again. This time she has stoked a fresh controversy by claiming that there are one or two terrorists in Parliament.

Sadhvi Prachi said that there are one or two terrorists in the Parliament. IBNLive

Sadhvi Prachi said that there are one or two terrorists in the Parliament. IBNLive

Talking about the terrorist captured during the Udhampur terror attack, Prachi on Thursday said that he should be handed over to Hindu organisations. “I humbly request the Centre to hand over the terrorist to Hindu organisations after getting all the information from him,” she was quoted as saying by News18.

She further alleged that even Parliament was sheltering some terrorists in the form of MPs.

The saffron leader was speaking to mediapersons in Roorkee when asked about some opposition to death penalty for 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon who was hanged on 30 July in a Nagpur prison. “It is a big misfortune that in the Indian Parliament, we have one-two terrorists sitting there. I do not think there can be a bigger misfortune for India than this as they who, are disobeying the judgement of a court, because the court has proved that he(Yakub) is a terrorist. When the court has already proved so, those supporting the terrorist are terrorists themselves I believe,” she said.

When she was later questioned about who she referred to as terrorists in Parliament, Prachi lashed out at the media and told India Today, “You want to twist my statement and you want me to take names needlessly.”

She also said that her statement was only against those who talked about breaking up the nation. “My statement was against those who speak against the death penalty. They are insulting the Supreme Court. They should be punished,” she said.

Kuchch log Yakub Memon ke marne pe aise ro rahe hain jaise Raavan ke marne pe Mandodari chhaati peet ke ro rahi thi (Some people are crying over Yakub Memon’s death just like the way Mandodari was helplessly crying after Raavan’s death),” Prachi said.

Shortly after Yakub’s execution, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had said he was saddened by the hanging of the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case and said that the “state-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too.” Tharoor also argued against the death penalty.

On being asked on what Sadhvi Prachi thought about BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha also having opposed Memon’s death penalty earlier, Prachi lost her cool again, changed her stance and said that her statements were only against “the terrorist who said it is fun to kill Hindus.”

This is not the first time Prachi has made a controversial remark.

Earlier in March, Prachi had said that Hindus should boycott movies by the three Khans of Bollywood because they promote ‘love jihad’. Not only that, earlier she even offered matrimonial advice to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi saying he should marry an Indian girl.

In February, Prachi said that the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programme will continue till the 15 crore people who, she claimed, have left the Hindu fold post-Independence, are “reconverted to Hinduism”.

“The ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programme launched by some Hindutva organisations would continue until all the fifteen crore people who have left the Hindutva fold after Independence are reconverted to Hinduism,” Prachi had said.

The Hindutva leader had sent out shock waves earlier by questioning the Father of the Nation title to Mahatma Gandhi and by calling it “unwarranted”.

“The title of the Father of Nation to Gandhi was unwarranted because the true sacrifice for attaining freedom was carried out by others,” she had said.

Prachi had also urged Hindus to have four children. “Earlier we used to say hum do hamare do. But now we have started saying that sher ka bachcha ek hi achha (for a lion, one offspring is enough). This is wrong…If there is one child, where all will you send him? To protect the border… or make him a scientist or he will take care of business…. So, we need four children. One can go to protect the borders, one can serve the society, give one to the saints and one to VHP to serve the nation and protect the culture. This is very important,” she said.

Prachi contested the 2012 Assembly elections on BJP ticket from Purkazi constituency in Uttar Pradesh. She was among persons accused of inciting riots through their provocative speeches at Muzaffarnagar in 2013 and was later granted bail.

(With inputs from PTI)

Dead BJP, RSS activists in Kerala are not targets of our violence: CPI(M)

CPI (M) on Wednesday accused BJP of using photographs of persons killed inside bomb-making units in Kerala for portraying them as victims of violence allegedly by the Left party in the southern state during an exhibition held in Kochi.

CPI (M) on Wednesday accused BJP of using photographs of persons killed inside bomb-making units in Kerala for portraying them as victims of violence allegedly by the Left party in the southern state during an exhibition held in Kochi.BJP president Amit Shah had on Tuesday inaugurated the exhibition titled ‘An Untold Story of Intolerance: Communist violence in Kerala’ in which the right wing party displayed photographs of its workers killed allegedly by the Left cadre.Countering the allegations, CPI (M) said six of the RSS and BJP workers, whose photographs the right wing outfits used as victims of violence of the Left party, had actually died inside a “secret bomb-making units” of the Hindutva organisations in November 2008 and that it had not targeted them.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Communist party also posted images of newspapers carrying reports regarding the incidents. It further termed BJP claims as “lies” and asked Shah to submit an answer over the issue.”Big Expose: The BJP has used photographs of persons killed inside bomb-making units of RSS in Kannur to accuse the CPI(M) in Kerala of violence.”The purported aim is to argue, as Shah did at the inauguration, that CPI (M) in Kerala is unable to tolerate dissent and practices killing of its political opponents. It has presented many photographs in the exhibition, mostly of deceased BJP activists,” the party said in a post on its official Facebook page.CPI(M) said it is in the process of verifying “each and every” photograph in the exhibition as the accusations leveled by RSS and BJP are “untrue”.”We will put out more details of lies from the BJP and RSS in coming days. But what is clear is that BJP and RSS stand totally exposed in their effort to show that CPI(M) is practicing violence against its opponents. It is the fascist nature of BJP-RSS that has been revealed by this exhibition,” CPI (M) added.

Firebrand Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi arrested on way to Mahapanchayat on eve-teasing

Firebrand Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi was on Monday arrested while she was on her way to hold a Mahapanchayat on the eve-teasing issue in Paharpur village under Shergarh police station area.

Sadhvi Prachi

Image Courtesy: ANI
Firebrand Hindutva leader Sadhvi Prachi was on Monday arrested while she was on her way to hold a Mahapanchayat on the eve-teasing issue in Paharpur village under Shergarh police station area.The district administration had denied permission for the Mahapanchayat and put up barriers all along the route from Bareilly, but the Sadhvi somehow reached the village where she was arrested from a temple, police said.She had given a call for the Mahapanchayat following reports that some 100 girls had stopped going to school in Paharpur and adjacent villages because of eve-teasing in the past one week and failure of police to check it.SP (Rural) Brijesh Srivastava said seven eve teasers have been arrested.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sadhvi was later released in Mirganj police station area on the Bareilly border after sometime, the SP said adding five luxury vehicles in the cavalcade of the Sadhvi which tried to speed past the barriers were impounded.A case of damaging government property and attacking police force against five persons has been lodged. There have been reports of rise in cases of eve-teasing in the area and the matter had also been reported to the police.Some 100 girls in the area had stopped going to school in the past week because of these incidents and the Hindutva organisations had come out in support of the girls and their families.

Some Muslim political leaders have no right to live in India: VHP

In controversial remarks, VHP on Saturday accused Muslim leaders of some political parties of “acting like mentors of terrorists” to threaten India and said they have no right to live in the country.

In controversial remarks, VHP on Saturday accused Muslim leaders of some political parties of “acting like mentors of terrorists” to threaten India and said they have no right to live in the country.The outfit said churches and politicians with “jehadi mindset” were bringing a bad name to India in the name of religion.”Sometime Owaisi, sometime Abu Azmi, sometime Azam… in the name of religion they act like mentors of terrorists, who are traitors and enemy of humanity, and give threats to India. Such people have no right to live in India,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Kumar Jain.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jain made the statement at the inauguration of two-day national conference of Bajrang Dal, a Hindutva outfit linked with violent activities in the past.In their zeal to oppose Hinduism, these leaders start opposing the Constitution and country, he alleged. His comment comes against the backdrop of a row over AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s remarks which suggested that Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon was facing gallows due to his religion.BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj had responded saying he should go to Pakistan if he cannot accept the decision on Memon.Several Hindutva outfits have been accused of being behind controversial activities like ‘love jihad’ and ‘ghar wapsi’, which have invited concerns from minority groups.

IITs being used for "anti-India, anti-Hindu" activities, says RSS mouthpiece

It has also taken potshots at former Chairman of the Board of Governors, IIT Bombay, and noted nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, and IIM, Ahmedabad, Chairman A M Naik for their criticism of the ministry over various issues.

IIT Roorkee

After an Organiser article termed as “anti-Hindu” the protests against Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as FTII chairman, another piece in the RSS organ has alleged that prestigious institutes like IITs were being turned into places for “anti-India and anti-Hindu” activities.Suggesting that political motives were behind opposition by some IIMs to the government’s moves, the article said the Left and Congress “still control the premium institutes” and both parties are “masters” at “ideological control” of an institute through the Board of Governors and Directors. It has also taken potshots at former Chairman of the Board of Governors, IIT Bombay, and noted nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, and IIM, Ahmedabad, Chairman A M Naik for their criticism of the ministry over various issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming that non-vegetarian food began to be served at IIT Roorkee “in the holy city of Haridwar” and students at NIT, Rourkela, were “stopped” from holding Puja in community hall, both under the UPA rule, it said these incidents show that “these government-funded institutes from tax payers money are becoming a place for anti-India and anti-Hindu activities.” “Faculties with low moral are misguiding students. These activities either don’t come to notice of Board of Governors or are being ignored… Board of Governors should also be made responsible for anti-India and anti-Hindu activities being carried out in the institutes,” it said.Taking a dig at Kakodkar, the article in the RSS weekly said said he accused HRD Minister Smriti Irani of taking directors’ recruitment “casually” but did not say a word over celebration of ‘Kiss of Love’ by IIT Mumbai faculty and students. The RSS weekly has been strongly arguing for the government to bring in changes in the education sector in line with the Hindutva outfit’s views and has hit out at those opposed to its policies.Several older IIMs have also crititiced the draft bill prepared by the HRD Ministry that would give sweeping powers to the government in running the institutions. The proposed bill, the article said, would make it difficult for political parties to control the appointment of directors and chairpersons and that is why many people were opposing it. It spoke about officials linked with the Left and Congress being appointed to these institutions.”The bill introduces a provision under which the appointment of directors and chairpersons will have to be approved by the Visitor- the President of India- not the appointments committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister,” it said, batting for the draft bill.Naik’s reported comments against the draft bill have been criticised in the article, which said the “ethics” that are applicable to the Board of Directors in the corporate world should also be applicable to the board in these institutes. “Otherwise it will be very difficult to put these institutes, who are creators of India?s future, on the correct path.”

Bigger Hindutva organizations have become inactive, says Pramod Muthalik

Muthalik has been banned from entering Goa by the state government fearing law and order situation, which has forced him to cancel his visit for the convention.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik on Wednesday claimed that “bigger Hindutva organisations” have become “inactive” leaving the smaller groups to unite for the cause.”Today, bigger Hindutva organizations have become inactive. On the contrary, smaller organisations which are striving sincerely for the cause of Hindutva are getting united,” Muthalik said addressing the All India Hindu Convention in Goa through tele-conferencing.Muthalik has been banned from entering Goa by the state government fearing law and order situation, which has forced him to cancel his visit for the convention.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am confident that this Hindu Parivar will definitely establish Hindu Rashtra with divine power and Hindu unity,” he said.Muthalik, who was linked to the 2009 Mangalore pub attacks, said BJP government was displaying double standards on the issue of Hindutva.”BJP government has refrained a real Hindu activist like me from entering Goa although every Indian citizen has freedom of speech and expression. On one hand, anti-nationals like drug mafia, Taliban are allowed entry in the state, a patriot like me is disallowed,” he commented adding “I feel proud that BJP fears a real Hindu activist.”Referring to the ongoing controversy surrounding Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi, Muthalik said, “She assisted corrupt Lalit Modi on humanitarian grounds as latter’s wife is suffering from cancer.”Muthalik said that on the same ground Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in 2008 Malegaon blast case, should also be assisted.On the contrary, on similar humanitarian grounds, no one assists Sadhvi Pragya Singh who too is suffering from cancer and is in jail for years. This is unfortunate.,” he added.

Tamil Nadu Muslim outfits stand divided on Yoga Day celebrations in state

Chennai: Two Muslim outfits have come up with divergent views on International Yoga Day celebrations in Tamil Nadu on 21 June, with one conditionally endorsing it and other dismissing it as not being in conformity with Islamic tenets.

As many as 33 organisations in Tamil Nadu will celebrate Yoga Day on 21 June, and will also hold one month free Yoga camp on the occasion.

The International Day of Yoga logo. Image Courtesy: Twitter @MEAIndia

The International Day of Yoga logo. Image Courtesy: Twitter @MEAIndia

The Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, an autonomous body under Department of AYUSH, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has given its nod to the organisations to hold the camp.

However, the top leader of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and MLA (Ramanathapuram), MH Jawahirullah, said: “Yoga minus Hindu elements like recitation of slokas is fine.”

“I myself practice the breathing exercise. But Suryanamaskar is worshipping the sun and it is unacceptable,” he told PTI.

“Asking Muslims to do Suryanamaskar goes against Islamic tenets,” he added.

Stressing that Yoga practices that have features against Islam should not be imposed on Muslims, he said the Constitutional guarantee to practice and profess any religion should not be infringed upon.

“There should absolutely be no compulsion and only as physical exercise without any religious connotations Yoga is fine.”

President of Tamil Nadu Thowheeth Jamaath (TNTJ) Fakeer Mohammed Althafi said, “Yoga is not necessary for us, Muslims. The reason for saying so is that today the yoga exercises have been integrated in toto with Hindu religion. Hence, we do not accept it.”

“Aspects like Suryanamaskar, recital of slokas, Guru Vanakaam (Guru worship) are not related to physical exercise but linked to religion. By mixing up such things with yoga they claim that it is yoga (exercise),” he added.

On the views by Muslim outfits, Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan said, “Yoga has beneficial effects and it must be seen on that lines and the ancient system belongs to all irrespective of religion or caste.”

“Yoga may have originated from Hindu religious traditions, but its benefits should go to all,” she added.

PTI

PM Modi’s anti-discrimination talk not aimed at Hindutva proponents, says Shiv Sena

“Hindutva is a culture and it should not be overzealous. But at the same time to convert tribal and poor Hindus to Islam or Christianity by allurement is also terrorism. Modi’s plain-talk is for such bigots,” the editorial said.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Shiv Sena on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plain-talk on zero tolerance against religious discrimination was not aimed at “pro-Hindutva” forces and suggested that he might have on his mind those “bigots” who convert Hindus to their respective faiths by “deception”.”Prime Minister has taken a strong view against extremists by saying that communal intolerance will not be accepted. But the question is for whom these comments were meant for. Modi’s statement is projected as it is meant for ‘anti-Hindutvavadis’ (pro-Hindutva forces) in certain sections. But, we don’t think that Modi had only Hindutvavadis in mind when he made those comments,” Sena said in its party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ on Thursday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi had recently asserted that he won’t tolerate any discrimination or violence against any community and termed anti-minority comments by some Sangh Parivar leaders as “unfortunate” and “uncalled for,” which is viewed as his strongest response so far on growing incidents of hate speeches.”Hindutva is a culture and it should not be overzealous. But at the same time to convert tribal and poor Hindus to Islam or Christianity by allurement is also terrorism. Modi’s plain-talk is for such bigots,” the editorial said.It said the Hindutva forces were very much active under the previous Congress regimes as well. “Had it not been so the Babri mosque could not have been demolished. Because of this Hindutva wave only the BJP could achieve its current position of power,” the editorial said.Sena said Modi’s assertion also applies to those who convert tribal and poor Hindus to Islam or Christianity “by deception.”The editorial said the recent attacks on churches opened Modi to criticism from Christian community across the globe.”However, the real reasons behind attacks on churches and who were the culprits are still unknown. If these attacks (on churches) happened due to conversion row then Modi’s message was also for those who are indulged into conversion,” it said.Sena said, “Modi’s comments were also directed to those who oppose the uniform civil code and those who oppose the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution. His comments also seem to be directed to (AIMIM president Assaduddin) Owaisi who is stoking (communal) fire. Modi has also taken on those (through his comments) who unfurl flag of Pakistan in Kashmir.”

Hate speech will not be tolerated: PM Modi hits out at Sangh Parivar

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For St Stephen’s principal Valson Thampu, it’s time to take his own advice to Hindu Right

St Stephen’s College principal Valson Thampu is best advised to take his own advice, or rather criticism. A man who recently warned against the arrogance and overreach of the Hindu Right appears now to have fallen prey to these very same vices.

Thampu was recently pilloried all around for blocking access to the inaugural issue of an in-house e-magazine the Stephanians took out, suspending one of its founder, Devansh Mehta, and denying him an award for good conduct. He has come to represent the very same qualities that were on full display when members of his community were recently subject to ugly attacks.

He has been embedded in the collective consciousness as the man who has wronged the weak, remains unforgiving and unrepentant, and invokes rules to hand out punishment disproportionate to the transgression allegedly committed by a student. This, to say the least, is un-Christian in spirit. This irony Thampu hasn’t perhaps noticed.

Has Thampu effectively become what he had one criticised? Ibnlive imageHas Thampu effectively become what he had one criticised? Ibnlive image

Has Thampu effectively become what he had one criticised? Ibnlive image

Thampu can’t or won’t see how close he is to becoming what he hates.

What is possibly happening to Thampu is often the fate of some who seek to vanquish those whom they detest, because of the ideas they harbour. The conscionable opponent soon begins to resemble his rival. Indeed, in the manner of the Hindutva hotheads, Thampu has used college (instead of state) power in an abortive attempt to intimidate the boy who wasn’t willing to fall in line or was, at worse, playing the precocious truant.

This allusion to the attacks on Christians might seem flawed at a glance, largely because the religious identity of Thampu and Devansh isn’t the trigger to the controversy in which St Stephen’s is embroiled. Yet it does bear certain similarities with the attacks on the Christians.

Devansh insists he can publish online and any curb violates the fundamental right guaranteed to him under the Constitution. Likewise, the religious minorities invoke the Constitution to claim they have the right to preach and propagate their religion – and are, therefore, justified to undertake religious conversion. Both are appeals to rights of citizenship.

The Hindutva brigade opposes this right of religious minorities, arguing, even though speciously, that the Hindus would be reduced to minority and their culture marginalized. Emboldened because of the BJP government in power at the Centre, besides believing the party could win Assembly elections in other states, the Hindutva hotheads have taken to menacing the religious minorities, particularly the Christians, and also want a ban on religious conversion.

Thampu has invoked the disciplining powers he possesses as principal to gag Devansh. No doubt, Thampu can claim he is justified in regulating any magazine, print or web, which bears the college’s name, which Mehta’s e-magazine did, as it was titled St Stephen’s Weekly. Yet Devansh’s petition in the court suggests this title was adopted at the behest of Thampu.

Devansh was accused of violating the code of discipline because he did not wait for the principal’s clearance of his interview,  which he had given to the students for the inaugural issue of the e-magazine. The transcript of the interview was submitted to Thampu, from whom, according to Devansh, no response came even after 12 hours and 28 minutes. He and others, therefore, decided to upload the e-magazine.

Devansh may have been guilty of contravening the undertaking he gave to Thampu. Yet it is one thing to suspend or punish the boy, but it is quite another to suspend the publication of or block access to the e-magazine altogether. It smacks of an over-reach of authority.

Laws are important to ensure the state do not become an unfettered behemoth, and rules of conduct are vital for institutions to function. But these become inherently unjust in case their basis is immoral, as would be the case should the Indian state ban conversion. This is indeed the case with the widening of the ban on cow-slaughter to include oxen and bullocks. It is decidedly a majoritarian imposition, an imprimatur of the powerful.

Thampu is the power in St Stephen’s College. His exercise of power Devansh believes snuffs out his right to his free speech. Some might call his interpretation as an instance of boyish exaggeration. But this tendency India’s premier liberal arts college ought to nurture, not stifle.

In this sense, Thampu is imitating the style of tormentors of Christians. They evoke the absurd fear that conversion could reduce the Hindus to minority for justifying their intimidation of the Christians. For Thampu to believe an e-magazine and a Devansh could throw the college discipline in disarray is plain paranoia. In throwing the rule book at Mehta he is flexing his muscles with the arrogance of the Hindutva hotheads.

About the quest of the RSS and its Hindutva hotheads, political psychologist Ashis Nandy once told this writer in an interview, “They want to establish the 19th century idea of nation-state in the 21st century.” About Thampu, you can say he wishes to impose archaic ideas of discipline and Victorian morality on college students.

For a college imparting liberal education, it is tragic Thampu should be stuck in the morass of the pre-internet age. In the 21st century the internet has redefined the ideas of freedom and rendered a tad more difficult for the powerful to censor ideas. Freedom as teenagers understand today is remarkably different from what its meaning was 30 years ago.

Indeed, the internet is not just a technological tool but a mindset. Thampu has missed this big point in the controversy he has triggered, as has the RSS in mistaking the popular mandate for the BJP as a signal for implementing its divisive agenda.

(Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist from Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, published by HarperCollins, is available in bookstores)

Economic, social development of Muslims more important than voting rights: Sanjay Raut

After his outrageous and controversial demand for Muslims to be disenfranchised, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut claimed that the decision will expose “secular” leaders who pander to Muslims only for their votes. Speaking to dna’s Dhaval Kulkarni, Raut, who is also the executive editor of the Shiv Sena’s newspaper ‘Saamna’, hinted that pro-Hindutva parties were hand-in-glove with hardline Muslim organisations for reaping mutual political benefits through communal polarisation. He said that instead of voting rights, social and economic development was more important for Muslims.

After his outrageous and controversial demand for Muslims to be disenfranchised, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut claimed that the decision will expose “secular” leaders who pander to Muslims only for their votes. Speaking to dna’s Dhaval Kulkarni, Raut, who is also the executive editor of the Shiv Sena’s newspaper ‘Saamna’, hinted that pro-Hindutva parties were hand-in-glove with hardline Muslim organisations for reaping mutual political benefits through communal polarisation. He said that instead of voting rights, social and economic development was more important for Muslims.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> You have alleged that pro-Hindutva parties are fanning the rise of Muslim politicians and parties to splinter the minority vote and create communal polarisation. Please comment.This must be criticised by all. That is why (late Shiv Sena chief) Balasaheb (Thackeray) had said that since Muslims were being used as vote banks by Muslim leaders and other political parties which call themselves secular, Muslims must be divested of their voting rights for some time.Rather than voting rights, economic and social development is important for Muslims; this will help to bring them into the mainstream. Many politicians don’t want that. These politicians say they are different from others, but they, too, use Muslims as pawns.Muslims are being blackmailed for vote banks, that is why there are talks about them being 15 crore strong. Leaders from Hyderabad are coming to Mumbai and making incendiary speeches, but after the polls they will not go to Behrampada (in Bandra East) to take people out of the rot they find themselves in. Hence, Balasaheb said that once the voting rights of Muslims are taken away, the real faces of these leaders will be exposed, as Muslims will be of no use to them then. But your statement can be interpreted to mean that there is a tacit understanding between Hindutva parties like the BJP and Muslim organisations like the AIMIM.You are free to draw your own conclusions. All use Muslims just as vote banks. This is harmful for the country, like Barrister Jinnah who created Pakistan. We all will be responsible for it. How, then, are Muslims to progress?There must be social and economic development for Muslims. They must get a good life, jobs, education, and go beyond religious fundamentalism. If leaders like the Owaisis care about the Muslims, then they must try to mainstream them and call for a uniform civil code and a ban on the burqa. They must remove the notion that Muslims are different from the rest of the country. They must sing Vande Mataram and say that India is our motherland. Muslims will progress if they come out of a frame of mind which wants to threaten and blackmail on the basis of a 15 crore-strong population. Though you talk about emancipating Muslims, your party opposed the short-lived 5% quota for the community in Maharashtra.Balasaheb opposed reservations given on grounds of caste and religion. Muslims who are poor and backward must get reservations and help. No one has the right to deny them quotas on economic grounds.

Subramanian Swamy seeks special session of BJP National Executive

The former union minister also suggested that a national ban on cow slaughter could be done through enacting a Central law which is permissible under the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
File Photo

Pushing the Hindutva agenda, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has pressed for convening of a special session of the party’s National Executive to draw an “actionable” programme to implement the promises like building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, abolition of Art 370 and a national ban on cow slaughter.A National Executive member, he has told his party President Amit Shah in a letter that there was “anxiety” among the people to know the roadmap to fulfil some of the promises made in the 2014 election manifesto on Hindutva issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The letter, copies of which were sent to some members of the National Executive, urges the BJP-led government to find solutions to these “outstanding” issues to bring a “renaissance” in the country’s religion, culture, history and heritage.Swamy, who had recently launched Virat Hindustan Sangam for pursuing Hindutva issues, has said a negotiable settlement could be worked out by Hindus and Muslims for building a Ram Temple in Lord Ram’s birth place. Hindus can agree to build for Muslims a new masjid across the Saryu river in place of the demolished Babri Masjid, he has said.The former union minister suggested that a national ban on cow slaughter could be done through enacting a Central law which is permissible under the Concurrent List of the Constitution.The abolition of Art 370 of the Constitution that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir does not require a vote of Parliament or the state Assembly but by a notification of the President on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet, he said.Swamy demanded a law barring the government from taking over the management of religious institutions, which is in the Concurrent List for more than three years and declaring Ram Setu a national heritage monument.Making Sanskrit an optional language in all southern states and an alternative choice to Hindi in Hindi-speaking states and setting up of a committee to “correct” the history of India in text books were the other demands he has made in his letter to Shah.

Girish Karnad turns up for Bengaluru beef eating event, but cops take away food

Bengaluru: Calling ban on beef as an act that was against the diverse food culture of our society, Left wing body Democratic Youth Federation of India and Dalit outfits today held a beef eating programme here that was attended by Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad.

The event was organised in protest against the ban on beef in different parts of the country and also supported and attended another famous Kannada writer Dr K Marulasiddappa.

Ibnlive imageIbnlive image

Ibnlive image

Protesters criticised the beef ban as an attempt to encroach upon the choice of food and against the diverse food culture of Indian society.

Both Karnad and Marulasiddappa did not eat beef,but said they support the event and stand against such ban.

“I don’t want people to say that because I eat beef therefore I opposed the law. No, everyone has the right to practice….” Karnad said.

To a question he said “Who said large part our population doesn’t eat beef? This nonsense is created by Brahmins;this is created by Hindutva protagonists. Vokkaligas, Muslims, Christians, Dalits and many other communities eat….then how is it against the practice of large population of this
country?”

Marulasiddappa said “I have not eaten beef here because I don’t follow that food habit, I have that right, but at the same time I don’t have right to scorn at those who eat it. I have respect towards them.”

Anticipating trouble as the event had invited a lot of opposition, police intervened and took away the eatables made of beef from the organisers.

Criticising the police action as undemocratic, organisers said, “this is against the law, we criticise this act by the police, ours was a peaceful programme, we have in no way affected the law and order situation.”

PTI

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy launches Hindutva outfit

The outfit will empower the youth to articulate the “values” of Hindutva, like scrapping of Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, Ram temple and beef ban.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today announced the formation of an organisation that would push for Hindutva issues like securing the disputed Ram Mandir area for building a temple by persuading Muslims to accept an alternative site.The outfit Virat Hindustan Sangam will empower the youth to articulate the “values” of Hindutva, like scrapping of Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, Ram temple and beef ban, he told a press conference.Indicating that the new body will also act as a pressure group on the ruling BJP, he said it would provide a list of candidates to the party for consideration and work closely with the Sangh parivar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked what will be his priority issue, he said it would be construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. “We will take up from January 1, 2016 the Ram temple issue. I will want the government to follow the Saudi Arabian example of offering the Waqf Board a site across the Saryu river for building a mosque…and leave the Ram temple premises completely for temple.”We hope to complete it by the end of 2016 because of our activism both in courts and in terms of pushing the government,” he said, adding that he would have finished most of his legal work in the Supreme Court by then.He also batted for scrapping of Article 370, an issue put on the back burner, saying it is in the party’s manifesto and it would have to do it by 2019 when next Lok Sabha election is scheduled. His organisation, he said, will be open to Hindus or those Muslims and other Indians who acknowledge their Hindu ancestry.

US to oppose plea to declare RSS a terrorist organisation

New York: The US has told a court in New York that it intends to move for dismissal of a lawsuit for declaring India’s RSS as a “terror group” while seeking time till 14 April to do so.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. AFP

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. AFP

In a motion filed on Tuesday before judge Laura Taylor Swain of the Southern District of New York, US attorney Preet Bharara said the “government requires additional time to finalize its motion and supporting papers.”

The US based rights group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has filed a lawsuit in the US court to label the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a foreign terrorist organization, according to SFJ attorney Gurpatwant S Pannun. It has sought such a declaration for RSS for allegedly “believing in and practicing a fascist ideology and for running a passionate, vicious and violent campaign to turn India into a ‘Hindu’ nation with a homogeneous religious and cultural identity”.

In its response filed on behalf of Secretary of State John Kerry, Bharara’s office acknowledged that the government’s deadline to respond to the complaint was Tuesday.

But “in lieu of an answer, the Government intends to move to dismiss the complaint, and requires additional time to finalise its motion and supporting papers,” it said.

“In the event this request is granted, the Government would consent to any reasonable deadline for the filing of opposition papers that plaintiff’s counsel would propose,” it added.

IANS

Shiv Sena attacks Narendra Modi government on Kashmir, Hindutva issues

“The responsibility to find the solution to the Kashmir problem lies not with the Parliament or the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. It is is with us and it requires courage. Abrogate article 370 that has been a noose around the country’s neck for the last 60 years,” he said.

A leader of Shiv Sena, a constituent of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre, on Monday accused the Narendra Modi government of “compromising” on Hindutva issues and termed BJP’s coalition with PDP in Kashmir as “treason”.Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena MP and spokesman, said the only solution to the Kashmir problem was to abrogate Article 370 that has been a “noose” around the country’s neck since its inception.He was speaking at a seminar on “Kashmir: Problem and Solution” organised by a forum ‘We the Citizens’ here.”The responsibility to find the solution to the Kashmir problem lies not with the Parliament or the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. It is is with us and it requires courage. Abrogate article 370 that has been a noose around the country’s neck for the last 60 years,” he said.
“Abrogating Article 370 won’t lead to snapping ties with India. If any political leader makes any such comment then he has no right to continue in his post,” he said.Accusing the Modi government of going soft on Hindutva, he said having a Congress government at the Centre was a better proposition.”During the polls you spoke of Ram Mandir, Article 370, finishing Pakistan off, Uniform Civil Code but what happened after the polls? The first compromise is always with hindutva torun government.”Even having Congress was better it seems. At least they used to fear when we used to stare at them,” Raut said.On the land acquisition bill, Raut said if the bill was being pushed by the government for development, then it should implement it in Kashmir first.”Let Ambanis, Adanis and the Tatas to go there. Why take our land only? Is that because we won’t raise our hands and they have guns? Go buy a piece of land there if you want to show courage,” he said.
Raut said BJP had even distanced itself from the Babri Masjid demolition accusing “Shiv Sainiks” for the act. ” At that time Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray had said I am proud of the Shiv Sainiks if they did so.”Raking up the ‘ghar vapsi’ (home coming) issue he said, “Start ghar vapsi in the Kashmir valley with the thousands of Kashmiri Pandits first.”Senior VHP leader Acharya Dharmendra, who also spoke, mocked Modi for “shying away” from uttering the word “Hindu” even once after coming to power.”You keep on talking about Gandhi so much so that even Congress worker would not take his name so many times,” he said.He also made a strong attack on Gandhi and Muslims, blaming them for the Kashmir issue.
He dared Modi to erect the statue of Vallabhbhai Patel at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk instead of building it in Gujarat.Taking on both Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat he said, “They seem to have forgotten that Hindustan is 100 per cent for Hindus.””I don’t believe with their definition of a Hindu when they say that whoever has taken birth in this country is a Hindu…For us only those are Hindus who believe that they are the children of bharatmata,” he said.

Haryana to introduce ‘Bhagwad Gita’ in schools this year, says CM

Chandigarh: The Haryana government will introduce the teaching of “Bhagwad Gita”, a Hindu scripture, in school curriculum from the new academic session this year, said Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday.

Khattar, who heads the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, told media that the scripture will be introduced for school students across Haryana from the academic session starting in April.

“We will be introducing ‘Bhagwad Gita’ in schools from the coming academic session. Students will be taught shlokas from it,” he said.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The opposition Congress had earlier, in guarded criticism of the BJP government, had accused it of trying to give a religious colour to the introduction of “Bhagwad Gita”.

Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had said that the BJP government was trying to push its Hindutva agenda.

“The Bhagwad Gita belongs to all and no party can lay claim over it,” Hooda had said.

Kurukshetra, the battlefield described in the mythological epic “Mahabharata” and where the sermon of “Bhagwad Gita” was given by Lord Krishna to Pandava warrior Arjun, is located in Haryana.

IANS