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Why are Hindus angry?

        In a snap election, the BJP Alliance would secure 320 seats in Parliament, according to the India Today-ORG-MARG Mood of the Nation Poll taken in January 2003. The Poll noticed that the popular vote for the NDA may touch 42 per cent, giving the ruling coalition a clear majority of between 310 and 320 seats. And, noted in the Poll, if the BJP and the BSP strike a poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the NDA tally may even reach 340.

        This finding must be sending shivers down Congress spines. Furthermore, according to the Poll, 'most heartening for the BJP is that the surge is most marked in its traditional strongholds and particulary in the Hindi heartland states where Assembly elections are due late this year'.

        How come? Reeling from the after-effects of Gujarat the Sonia Gandhi Congress seems to be in a state of total disarray. Indeed, it is clear that the Congress has lost its bearings, and does not know which way to go.

        In Gujarat it tried 'soft Hindutva' and Sonia Gandhi started her campaign from Ambaji Temple when she might have done so from Sabarmati Ashram. But she must have felt it necessary to appease Hindu sentiment, which had been deeply hurt over what the party and the Secular media said about Hindus in Gujarat.

        And may this be said: it is not just the Gujarati Hindu whose anger has been aroused. The Hindus throughout the country spread across castes and creeds, languages and ethnicities are in revolt against what they consider unfounded charges levelled at them by secularists, and by minority spokesmen.

        They have become sick of secular humbug and they are out to teach Congress and the so-called secularists the lesson of their lives. The secularists went overboard in criticising Hindus generally and the BJP particularly, accusing Narendra Modi of all sorts of crimes.

        Many newspapers (and journals) revelled at publishing the photo of a Muslim, hands folded, stalking fear in his green eyes, pleading for his life. It epitomised the unleashed terror in Ahmedabad as nothing else did.

        It was an indictment of the rioting Hindu and the media lapped up the picture with undisguised glee. Unfortunately no photographer took any picture of the last minutes of 58 innocent women and children, as they coughed and choked and felt the stinging heat of the surrounding flames, shouting to God to save them.

        How did the faces of those women look like as they clasped their children to their bosoms as the heat and the smoke slowly ate through their skins and their young died in their arms screaming till they were silenced? Alas, there was no photographer around to immortalise the fiery scene. What is now remembered is the callousness and bias of the secular press and the utter indifference to Hindu suffering of Sonia's Congress.

        No wonder Narendra Modi's BJP won the Assembly elections in Gujarat with astounding ease. Yes, the Hindus are boiling mad at the Congress which has had its heydey in Nehruvian days. Nehru had little use for Hinduism which he held in contempt. And under his leadership there grew a generation, western in thought, word and deed that Macaulay would have applauded. Macaulay's children were everywhere, ensconced in seats of power.

        Over the decades Hindu thought dared not openly surface; it would have been quashed if freely expressed. To be 'secular' was fashionable. Rajiv Gandhi unconscionably exposed the hypocrisy of it all in the matter of the Shah Bano Case.

        The Babri Masjid episode showed another aspect of Congress hypocrisy. The Shias to whom the Masjid belonged would have happily given up their claim to the Masjid but our secularists would have none of that. They wanted BJP blood. And they had it.

        It only enraged majority Hindu sentiment. The average Hindu is more secular than anyone else. But constant denigration of Hinduism has done more than what partition could not do: It has made Hindus conscious of their culture and heritage.

        They are getting united as seldom before in the past, despite major efforts by Congress to play the caste game. In Gujarat all castes were united, as were even Scheduled Castes and tribals in their opposition to Congress. For the first time in post-independence history Hindus as a whole stood together in opposition to the shady secularism of the Congress.

        There is a message here. Hindus would go a long way to be accomodative of other religionists. But when their sensitivities get continuously trampled upon, their goodwill taken for granted or deliberately misunderstood or wilfully exploited, does it come as a surprise that their cup of frustration and anger boileth over. One minority columnist even has gone to the extent of advocating the weaning of tribals and Scheduled Castes from the collectivity of Hindu society and condemning ayudh pooja during dussehara as indicative of Hindu bloodthirstiness! Another such columnist continues to heap abuse at the majority community in a Mumbai daily. That, apparently, is considered fair. Only, the Congress seems either blissfully ignorant of gathering Hindu anger or believes it can be assuaged by taking recourse to artificial means such as party leaders taking to wear Gandhi caps, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijay Singh conceding that the Congress is not against buildng the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and members of the Rajasthan Cabinet nestling cozily at the feet of Gujarat's famous sant Murari Bapu as he recited Ram Katha in Jaipur at the invitation of the State's Governor Anshuman Singh.

        Minority leaders are propagating against Hindutva refusing to accept that the word is not linked to religion but, in the words of Atal Bihari Vajpayee 'encompasses all sections of society, irrespective of caste, creed' and is timeless. Hindutva has been defined in terms of cultural nationalism but apparently as much with the support of secularists as on their own, minorities are rejecting it only to add fuel to Hindu fire.

        What is saddening is that even as an effort is being made to bring all people together under a cultural umbrella, Congress states are trying to prop up Muslim separatism as in evident in a proposal to set up a Muslim University in Bhopal. So fed up with the bogus secularism are many Hindus that they are quietly turning to the BJP on the theory that 'enough is enough'; they are equally quietly demanding that their suppressed voice be heard, a voice that expresses resentment at being called 'fascist' and 'communalist' when Hindus are neither.

        The record of one thousand years of history shows it. In all these years it was the Hindu who was being terrorised and suppressed by rulers from alien lands. The Congress would do well to listen to the voice of anger. Very novel for Hindus, they are beginning to assert themselves at the polls in hitherto unexpressed sense of oneness. To continue to mock at them is for the Congress to invite disaster. What minorities should remember is that it is under a majority - not majoritarian - rule that they can get the greatest protection and safeguards. So it was under Shivaji, so it was under all Hindu kings that ever ruled India.     

( The author is a veteran journalist and chief of the Prasar Bharati)




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