A development model of communalism, military politicisation

By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal  
The prime minister who preached Kashmiriyat and Insaaniyat in the heart of Srinagar just a week ago chose to become invisible and amazingly silent as Insaaniyat lay trampled by people of his Sangh Parivar with forced conversions, hate speeches and other Hindutva agendas – from Ram Temple to nationalising Gita and hero-worshipping Godse. More than six months after he took over as prime minister on the promise of inclusive growth and development, the real development agenda has been laid bare – development of saffron footprints and march of fascism. In pursuit of this development model, prime minister Narendra Modi is pushing the country towards a discourse that is either religiously divisive or extremely militaristic. Both are antagonistic to the secular and democratic essence of the country. In a country with over six decades of working democracy, despite the many flaws in its functioning, Modi is beset with the dilemma of balancing out the much cherished democracy and his own ideals of a fascist state. India’s diversity and democracy’s popularity is the country’s greatest defence against this march to fascism. And that is why while one finds Modi cocooning himself in abject silence (strange though after his rebuke for his predecessor ‘MaunMaun Singh’) when it comes to signs of firebrand communalism from his ministerial and party colleagues, his militaristic push is mired in enigma. 

He is consciously steering clear of any communally divisive discourse and the compulsions of electoral politics in Kashmir last week, in fact, found him in a new avtar of ‘insaaniyat’ and champion of human rights in Kashmir. Seemingly, he may have stepped onto something non-controversial but something that in times to come will have far reaching implications that may not be very pleasing for the country. He may be shrewd enough to prop himself as a messiah of the masses, even as many believe that 12 years ago his fingers were dipped in blood of innocents in Gujarat, through his robust propaganda machinery. But he is neither a visionary, nor a man of intellect enough to weigh the consequences of his words and actions, aimed to fetch petty returns. What he said or did in Kashmir is unlikely to eventually work in accordance with Modi’s desires. Kashmir’s conflict has not only been a breeding ground for angry youth pushed to revolt in varied ways – peaceful campaigns, stone pelting and the gun. It is also a place with a situation that has produced a highly politically educated and conscious population. Modi’s background of hate speeches and Gujarat is not a forgotten story. Nor is the Sangh Parivar’s hypocrisy of saying one thing in rest of the country and yet another in Kashmir during election time. Rather the double standards of rabid communalism and this exceptional Kashmir based secular bait may backfire in areas where the Sangh Parivar was likely to benefit due to its hardcore Hindutva ideology. That may be of consequence mostly to Modi’s BJP and allies. 

Of greater worry is his bid to politicise army as he uses the militarization discourse in varied ways. In striking contrast to the chauvinism he invoked about a little more than a month back on the borders, both in pursuit of his policy to hyphenate Pakistan and his vote bank politics both in Maharashtra and pockets of Jammu region, making grounds easier for the RSS cadres to smooth his pitch for elections, he chose to play the human rights card in Kashmir. The excessive politicization of the army in both cases is fraught with dangers. On the Pakistan front, Modi and his government while taking credit for the military might have used the army to wriggle out from any possibility of dialogue and maintain his government’s aggressive posturing. On the Kashmir front, he has taken the credit for summary court martial proceedings in two cases of innocent killings, springing a surprise this election season, in an obvious bid to couple up his development slogan in Kashmir with human rights. In doing so, he has left the army on the edge of a precipice. The peril of his words lies in his claim of being the only one to make army accountable for its atrocities, an idiom that the army may well be uncomfortable with as it is at complete odds with army’s earlier posturing on the issue of human rights. This reckless politicisation of the army in two opposite extremes will have repercussions of dangerous proportions. 

Only some degree of sensibility and maturity can help a fair introspection and an end to this policy. As for the free flow of rabid Hindutva discourse, it stems from years of an ideological belief and there may thus be little escape from that. 

Tail-piece: In a season of conversion controversy, the real ‘home-coming’ would be in recalling the origins of human life and converting the entire humankind to cave-men. The Sangh Parivar, which always wishes to be a step further than the rest may be converted into apes.