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Verdict Maharashtra: 2004
By Ram Puniyani

Defeat of Communal Forces

Close on the heals Lok sabha (Parliament) elections, the results of Maharshtra elections have come as a big blow to BJP and its allies, Shiv Sena in case of Maharashtra. In the keenly contested elections in Maharashtra, BJP coalition initially tried to test the waters of emotive issues. Tiranga, Savarkar, Bangladeshi immigrants and to its dismay found that these issues are no longer able to rouse the passions of average people the way similar issues did few years ago.  Then they were left with no option but to talk of worldly issues of the people but as average people have already seen their performance during the period of 94-99 it did not wash and they were trounced at the hustings. It is also to be remembered that the ‘Mumbai chauvinism’ displayed by Shiv Sena, like the attitude towards, Non Marathi speaking could not be forgotten by the electorate. The campaign of Mee Mumbaikar with its xenophobic tone, the beating up of Non Maharashtiran boys by Shiv Sainiks was too fresh in the minds of people.

As far BJP, the Gujarat has been a big blow to the sensibilities of the ‘aam adami’ (common man), the whole carnage on the pretext of Godhra and the post carnage humiliation and intimidation of minorities and the Supreme Court injunctions against Gujarat Government have an indelible impression on the minds of people. The dis-investment of the major properties in Mumbai, Centaur Hotel, at throw away price and the petrol pump allotment to the RSS coterie by previous govt., revealed a lot about this political outfit.

During Lok Sabha elections (mid 2004) also the emotive issues failed to click, the high fi ‘shining India’ campaign was perceived as an insult by the deprived masses and the highly confidant BJP electoral machine had to bite the dust. It seems, gradually the electorate has realized over a period of last one decade that the divisive politics promoted in the garb of religion is dangerous to society’s amity and the poor and marginalized suffer much worse during BJP regimes. It is their concerns, which get pushed back to promote the interests of the handful of elite and ‘shining Indians’ of the society. It is the Adivasis, dalits, workers, minorities and women who suffer much worse during such Governments.

So is it that it is the end of road for the BJP type religion based politics, the Shiv Sena type sectarianism? Is it the end of the cycle of ascendance, which began with Advani’s Rath Yatra in the year 1990, the campaign which was meant to distract the social attention for the Mandal, the need for addressing the issues related to social justice? One Recalls that these parties propagating their politics in the garb of religion Were able to create a mass hysteria around Ram Temple to begin with. This increased their electoral strength by and by to the extent that they could come to power in the Center. When this emotive appeal began to decline, the Godhra happened and the clever projection of threat of terrorism did the trick and Gujarat could be won back with bigger majority by BJP’s Narendra Modi, under whose supervision the biggest massacre of 21st Century has taken place. While this helped the BJP to have immediate gains, in the medium term it has become and albatross in BJP’s neck and has been working against its political ambitions.

So is it the end of road for communal politics? Is it that we can Breathe easy and ignore the threat of RSS and its progeny? It will be suicidal For democratic values to think in those terms. The votes-polled in favor of these parties is substantial. One has to know that the communal poison sown by this outfit has reached far and wide. One should know that RSS trained swayamsevaks have infiltrated in most of the walks of our society, educational, cultural and media. Its penetration into bureaucracy and other wings of state structures has been phenomenal. By now it must have hundreds of front organizations which are spreading hate against minorities in particular and against weaker sections of society in general. Its funding by the NRIs must be incalculable.

It is sure to come up with more aggressive intimidating strategies in Due course of time. Already one of its progeny VHP is asserting that return To Hindutva is called far if they have to win elections. In the past we Have seen that communal violence, orchestrated in a very clever manner, so That it looks to have been initiated by the ‘others’, has been the major Weapon of consolidation of RSS ideology. One cannot take it easy that so much subjective power bend upon destroying the concept of Democratic Secular India and to bring in Hindu Nation is scattered all over. The need Today is to combat this poisonous ideology. The very notion of fraternity (community) has been mauled by the hate ideology dished out through shakhas and other outlets of RSS. We are witnessing the ‘mini Pakistans’ and ‘borders’ right in our cities and small towns. Surely no society Can progress under these circumstances. The need is that we try to build bridges between our communities at social level. The need is to celebrate our diversity, to have mutual respect for different traditions of the country. The defeat of BJP. Shiv Sena should not lull us into slumber. We can only think that this has given the secular democratic forces space And time to bring together communities, to bring back the social issues Back as the major concerns of our social and political polices.