RSS did not fight for freedom. It’s a cover-up
It’s easy nowadays to get branded as an anti-national. Writers and artists returning awards to protest against murders of rationalists and Dadri lynching are anti-nationals. People voicing concerns about a private organisation hosting a cultural festival in gross violation of all rules leading to environmental damage are anti-nationals. Students shouting slogans against “punjivad” and “Manuvad” are anti-nationals. Sloganeering is encouraged, but only of specific kind and rhetorical phrases that are decided and dictated by the ruling party and its ideological mentor. We saw on a news channel how a spokesperson of the ruling party want hoarse shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and challenging his co-panelists to parrot him.
If one could have managed to ignore the chilling implication, it would have been rather amusing. Debates, discussions and dissent are part of a healthy democracy. The raging debate about nationalism is welcome. However, it’s ironic that a political party whose ideological fountainhead refused to take part in India’s freedom struggle against imperialist forces, whose political predecessors did not have any role to play in the post-Independence task of nation building, is steering this debate. But it’s precisely because of this reason that they are trying to create an atmosphere of hyper nationalism. Empty vessels make more noise.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Right-wing forces are trying to appropriate legacies, to monopolise ideologies and concepts. They are attempting to appropriate Hinduism by trying to impose their chauvinistic, bigoted brand of “Hindutva” on people. They are trying to appropriate legacies of great leaders and martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose and Vallabhbhai Patel. They are trying to cover-up their non-participation in the freedom struggle. They are trying to make amends for their erstwhile leaders who apologised to the British to come out of jail. They are trying to cover-up the fact that the RSS refused to hoist the national flag at their headquarters till as late as 2002. That’s why there has been a fervent diktat from the ministry of human resources development to all Central universities to hoist the tricolour. They are trying to create their own brand of hyper nationalism that obliterates plurality, annihilates differences, suppresses voice of dissent and kills sanity and reason.
In this whole shrill-pitched scenario of allegations and counter-allegations of who is an anti-national and who is not, one point is emerging clearly. Political parties with anti-liberal, communal mindsets like the BJP and the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen are nothing but two sides of the same coin. The BJP’s insistence on saying “Bharat Mata ki Jai” as a determinative of nationalism and the AIMIM’s refusal to say it stem from the same mindset that caters to politics of hate. Both have reduced nationalism to mere sloganeering.
It’s indeed a bad day for a nation when mere sloganeering is taken as the litmus test to prove one’s patriotism. Pandit Ravi Shankar, who familiarised the world to the beauty of Indian classical music, didn’t need to shout “Bharat Mata ki Jai” to prove his patriotism. Sachin Tendulkar’s sixers are far more convincing testimonial to his patriotism than any sloganeering. Artists and scholars, scientists and philosophers who have done India proud by their achievements and millions of unknown Indians who contribute towards the ongoing task of nation-building are greater patriots than the slogan shouting pseudo-nationalists.
Our Constitution gives us the freedom of expression. By implication, it also gives us the freedom of silence. While sloganeering can generate passion and create bonds, let our acts and deeds speak more eloquently towards our commitment to the nation.
Sharmistha Mukherjee is chief spokesperson, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, and national media panelist, AICC.
Won’t allow threat to India’s integrity
It would be appropriate to first delve into the history of the very concept of Bharat Mata before discussing the need for making the chanting of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” compulsory. Our republic rose from a long-drawn freedom struggle, a movement that was bathed in nationalist fervour. There are enough evidences to show that religion and culture played an important role in making the freedom struggle mass-based and widespread.
There are several references in our history texts, not written necessarily by Right-wing scholars, about the role of Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal and Ganpati mandaps in Maharashtra in galvanising public sentiment against the imperialist forces. These two festivals played a major role in mass mobilisation and spreading the message against British occupation.
Right at the beginning of the freedom struggle the motif of Durga was used to depict the Indian nation and Mahishasur symbolised the imperial forces. It was from worshipping Durga that Kiran Chandra Banerjee, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Abanindranath Tagore got their inspiration to depict Bharat Mata.
Much feted nationalist leader Bipin Chandra Pal had no qualms using Hindu philosophical traditions and rituals to idealise Bharat Mata. Thus, an assault on such sentiments invites the wrath of people in general.
While development is the priority of the Narendra Modi government, preserving nationalist ideals is its responsibility. This was underlined by home minister Rajnath Singh at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive meeting where he said, “We have progressive policies and nationalist thoughts. We can accept political dissent, but not anti-nationalism.”
And to those who thought working towards preserving nationalist ideals amounted to being fascist, our finance minister Arun Jaitley gave a very remarkable explanation. “Constitution gives full freedom for expressing dissent and disagreement, but not the country’s destruction. Freedom of expression and nationalism do necessarily coexist,”
Mr Jaitley said while piloting the political resolution at the just concluded national executive in the capital.
The so-called opposition to reciting Vande Mataram and raising the slogan “Bharat Mata ki Jai” are products of convoluted minds working on a visceral political line to defeat the spirit of the nation. Vande Mataram, the song that inspired the freedom struggle, was denied its rightful position by Left-wing activists, who want to strike at the very roots of Indian nationality. It’s after a long-drawn struggle by the BJP that the song is now being sung inside Parliament and Legislative Assemblies.
That the spirit of this song lived in the souls of Indians was best evidenced when musical genius A.R. Rahman and Lata Mangeshkar sang it again for the nation. Rahman’s rendition of Maa tujhe salaam too has been widely accepted. Muslim scholars have come forward and said that in Bharat Mata they see the image of “Madre watan” (Mother nation). So where is the scope of debate? We saw recently in Kolkata that during the India-Pakistan match the whole stadium resonated with “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
However, overlooking the sentiments of the people, a few elements, desirous of the destruction of the nation, have taken to denouncing Bharat Mata. They have to be fought tooth and nail for that it’s necessary that saying the slogan “Bharat Mata ki Jai” be made compulsory. There cannot be any compromise on the integrity of the nation and such law is necessary to make it difficult for those who, in the name of liberal ideals, preach subversion.
Ashish Sood is general secretary, Delhi BJP...