February 17, 2018

India: Vallabhbhai Patel - A legacy appropriated and distorted | Neha Dabhade

by Neha Dabhade

(Secular Perspective Feb.16-28, 2018)

Historical figures are complex and shaped by the context they lived out of. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is no exception. Vallabhbhai Patel popularly known as the "indomitable iron man" of India is credited with unifying India when India was a cluster of numerous princely states at the time of independence and Patel was the first home minister of independent India. During the tumultuous times of the partition and subsequently the assassination of Gandhi, the leadership of the country had to guide it through many ups and downs towards a secular democracy that India has evolved into and still evolving. Nehru and Patel along with the others took tough decisions to serve this end. One of them was banning of RSS. Though Patel was instrumental in this decision, he is appropriated and co-opted by the RSS and BJP as one supporting their brand of politics and ideology- Hindutva while Nehru is derided for being weak and responsible for partition. Moreover the narrative that pits Nehru against Patel has gained currency and the two unfairly compared by the right wing which completely obliterates the fact that both leaders had one vision for the country and enjoyed each other's confidence.

Patel was again brought at the centre stage of public discourse by the Prime Minister recently. "Had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been India's first Prime Minister, a part of my Kashmir would not have been with Pakistan today" (Ashok, 2018). BJP and RSS have positioned themselves lately as ideological heirs of Patel. PM Modi wants to build 'statue of unity' as he refers to Patel and also commemorate his birthday as national unity day. He goes on to add, "There have been attempts to run down Patel, to ensure that the contribution of Patel is forgotten. But Sardar is Sardar, whether any government or any party recognizes his contribution or not but the nation and the youth will not forget him" (Indian Express, 2017). Similarly Venkaiah Naidu also praised Patel. This appropriation is problematic. Appropriation of mass leaders has been a thrust of RSS strategy by distorting historical facts. Similar attempts have been made towards Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh. Thus it is imperative to demystify Patel.

Though a lot has been written about Patel and his equation with RSS, keeping the aggressive appropriation of icons like Patel, it is important to repeat and emphasize on the following points. One point to be noted at the very outset is that historical figures are multidimensional and it is difficult to capture them in all their complexity. However one must try to understand Patel in a more nuanced way.

1. Patel was an admirer of Gandhi. He was pained with the assassination of Gandhi. He was all his life a staunch Congressman though sympathetic to plight of Hindus and Sikhs during the communal violence post and pre partition.

2. Though he was distrustful towards Muslims in India as a section of the community supported the Muslim League, he as a Home Minister vowed to protect all citizens equally and certainly did not encourage communal violence against Muslims.

3. Patel was not a supporter of the RSS or endorsed Hindutva politics which is narrow, discriminatory and exclusionist in its outlook.

The right wing is appropriating Patel for a number of reasons. It is no secret that the RSS had no role to play in the freedom struggle of India. Their members were not incarcerated in the prisons or enjoyed following amongst masses due to leaderships in any social movements- peasants, trade unions, women, reform in Hindu personal laws, eradication of caste etc. The freedom struggle represented certain ideas that of equality, pluralism, inclusion and democracy. The struggle was not just against the colonial powers for political power but also for a just and equal society ridden of hierarchies based on caste, religion and class. Patel being a tall leader of Congress can bring this legitimacy to the RSS, give them a respectable face and wider support base. Secondly with constant exaggeration and misrepresenting the differences between Nehru and Patel, the Nehruvian vision of the society and India is sought to be discredited since this vision is completely conflicting and incompatible to that of Hindutva. The Hindu supremacists want to taint this legacy and establish a new social order and deepen the existing hierarchies.

The actions of BJP leaders should be analyzed from this prism. To begin with, it would be interesting to study the views of Patel on RSS itself.

"There can be no doubt that the RSS did service to the Hindu Society. In the areas where there was the need for help and organisation, the young men of the RSS protected women and children and strove much for their sake. No person of understanding could have a word of objection regarding that. But the objectionable part arose when they, burning with revenge, began attacking Mussalmans. Organising Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing".

On the assassination of Gandhi, he expresses his anguish in no uncertain terms.

"All their speeches were full communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison and enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the valuable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of sympathy of the Government or of the people no more remained for the RSS. In fact the opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji's death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS.

"As regards the RSS and the Hindu Maha-sabha, the case relating to Gandhiji's murder is sub judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organisations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the government and the state. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure" (Zakaria, 2016).

It becomes clear from Patel's words that he opposed the RSS politics of hatred and targeting of the Muslims. He condemns the assassination of Gandhi and the politics that claimed his life. This is antithetical to the stand of RSS which hasn't condemned Gandhi's death but gone to the extent of installing busts and building temples of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Gandhi!

It also speaks volumes on the idea of India nurtured by Patel. Being a staunch congressman and influenced by Gandhi, he understood the contribution of different communities to India. The very fact that Patel skillfully brought as princely states onto one political platform without bloodshed and prevented balkanization gives an insight into his vision for an India which gave space to all- different languages, cultures, religions. Pluralism and democracy were hallmarks of his vision. This vision is again in contrast of a Hindu rashtra where the Hindus are rightful citizens and citizens of other religions merely second class citizens.

However this doesn't necessarily mean that some of his views were not problematic. He had certain extent of reservations and also distrust about the Muslims. This grew out of the support of a section of Muslims that the Muslim League enjoyed. Naturally it was wrong to paint the whole community with one brush, since large sections of Muslims supported the Congress and rejected the two nation theory. Nonetheless some of his policies have attracted flak. For example the enactment of the Evacuee Property Law, which resulted in the expropriation of their businesses, industries, shops, houses, lands and all such assets, movable and immovable; even Muslims, suspected by the police of intending to go to Pakistan were covered under it. However this law was for political exigency and in response to a similar law enacted by Pakistan. Another policy was the draconian permit system where the Indian Muslims who went to visit Pakistan after 15th August 1947, were at a risk of losing their citizenship.

These actions, though questionable, doesn't make Patel communal or suggests that he supported violence against Muslims or encouraged it for his own political or electoral interests. Manufacturing of violence and communal polarization is a project resorted to by the Hindu supremacists for electoral gains. This distinction is significant but often sought to be blurred by the Hindu supremacists when they co-opt Patel. As a leader who has constitutional duty he was of the opinion that India is a country for all and not a Hindu state and thus all citizens have to be protected. "I do not think it will be possible to consider India as a Hindu state with Hinduism as a state religion. We must not forget that there are other minorities whose protection is our primary responsibility" (Zakaria, Sabrang India, 2016)

This is of course a far cry from the approach of the current government which praises Patel. There is an atmosphere of impunity and encouragement given to vigilantes to target the vulnerable groups like Muslims and Dalits under the name of cow protection. Though the current political dispensation prefers to call the perpetrators of violence as 'fringe' elements or criminal elements thereby trivializing their acts of violence, Patel had a different approach as a statesman. There are numerous hate crimes taking place unabashedly with no justice. On the other hand, there were instances where Patel himself went to spots of trouble to quell any violence and took proactive steps to protect the Muslims and punish the criminals. The famous Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya in South Delhi was surrounded by some miscreants. He went there himself and clearly instructed the officers to protect the Muslims and take action against the miscreants. Whenever such incidents took place where the Muslim community was harassed or instigated, he said, "If you think that you can go on constantly troubling loyal Muslims because they happen to be Muslims, then our freedom is not worthwhile."

Cow protection is linked to nationalism as is the building of Ram Mandir where the Babri Masjid was demolished. Interestingly Patel had a more balanced approach towards Babri Masjid based on inclusion and dialogue. In 1949, a mob descended upon the Babri Masjid and, after chasing away the muezzin, installed an idol of Ram Lalla in order to claim it as a temple. Within a month of the incident, Patel shot off a letter to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, GB Pant warning that "there can be no question of resolving such disputes by force". Differing even more starkly from the final outcome of 1992, Patel opined that "such matters can only be resolved peacefully if we take the willing consent of the Muslim community with us" (Daniyal, 2014).

The latest statement of PM on Kashmir where he again pitted Sardar Patel against Nehru is another attempt distorting the legacy which stood for unity, democracy and pluralism. Patel was a mixed bag, multifaceted, complex. He was of course different from Nehru or any other political colleague. Patel had his own temperament, resoluteness and biases. But what he was not was communal and parochial. He espoused the cause of a united India where all citizens had an equal stake. He shared a vision of an India based on equality with Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar. He was a man who had fought for the rights of the farmers at Bardoli and other places. If the Hindu supremacists want to emulate Patel, their starting point should be his efforts for justice and equality. The Hindu supremacists on the other hand at ideologically at loggerheads with Patel by upholding, manipulating and further deepening of caste and religious divides.

Excerpt: Neyaz Farooquee’s memoir examines what it’s like to be a Muslim in India

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“Cow vigilantism” in India | The Economist

Often just an excuse to exacerbate tensions between religious communities

India: RSS Chief Bhagwat's claim on militarisation was no slip of tongue

An apology from the RSS Supremo was demanded for 'disrespecting the army and our martyrs' and adding “an insult to every Indian

( First published in newsclick.in)
Would it be possible to imagine that leader of any organisation openly declaring that her/his people/activists have the ability to prepare an "army" in three days
, can be deployed on the front within three days, questions the ability of the security forces for quick operations, and does not face any legal hassles ?
A lesser mortal would have been definitely hauled up for such ''ánti-national" act by now
Well, when it comes to the 'Pitrusangathan' - as the RSS is called in the larger Parivar - and its numero uno Mohan Bhagwat things move bit differently. Forget any hassles what one witnessed is unbelievable. A minister of the government rushed to Bhagwat's defence (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/kiren-rijiju-defends-mohan-bhagwat-trinamool-congress-calls-him-minister-of-sangh-5061058/) when RSS's supremos speech in Muzaffarpur, Bihar caused uproar in the country.
An apology from the RSS Supremo was demanded for 'disrespecting the army and our martyrs' and adding “an insult to every Indian,...” ( Rahul Gandhi) or transgressing 'constitutional propriety'( Vijayan, Kerala CM), or 'lowering the morale of the force. (Mayawati) etc...
The clarification of sorts provided by the Akhil Bharatiya Prachaar Pramukh of the RSS, Manmohan Vaidya, about this controversial statement added further insult to injury :
..[B]hagwat ji had said that if a situation arises and the Constitution permits, Indian Army would take six months to prepare society, whereas swayamsevaks can be trained in three days as swayamsevaks practise discipline regularly. .."
What Anand Sharma, spokesperson of the Congress said was more scathing. Demanding Bhagwat's apology and a response from PM on this remarks, it said how the statement itself and the clarification provided smacked of a dangerous mindset.
What the RSS chief has said is deeply disturbing and unacceptable. It amounts to insulting the Indian Army. Mohan Bhagwat’s statement about mobilising RSS supporters like an Army also means he talking about RSS running a private militia. We have already seen the dangerous consequences of such private militia in Afghanistan, in the form of IS in Syria and in many African countries such as Angola. We will not allow such a design in India,”
A moot question arises : Whether RSS Supremo would have a change of heart and would seek apology for his 'misrepresented' statement or issue clarification .
Looking at the intrasigence shown by the ruling dispensation on various occasions - where it has rather perfected the art of not saying sorry - it would be daydreaming to think that the RSS Supremo, formally head of the 'largest cultural organisation in the world', would express regrets. Anyone who entertains any doubt about this can have a look at the regular consultations between the 'Pitrusangathan' and various stakeholders in the government (e.g. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/boundaries-between-rss-bjp-dissolve/141962.html) or the fluidity of the boundaries between RSS and BJP, where Pracharaks metamorphose overnight into leaders of BJP and are easily accepted.
While debate would continue around the 'ínsult' heaped by the RSS Supremo on the army, one was bit surprised over the candidness with which Mohan Bhagwat spoke , frankly admitting what goes on within this 'biggest cultural organisation in the world'.
In fact there are rare occasions when you get to hear such clear cut statements from people associated with it. e.g. Not very many people would remember today that when involvement of Hindutva fanatics in terror acts had made headlines, and RSS had found itself on the defensive, Mohan Bhagwat had made this significant statement talking to RSS members in Surat
..of the majority of the people whom the government hasaccused (in various blast cases), a few had left voluntarily and a few were told by the Sangh that this extremism will not work here so you go away...
(‘No place for radicals in RSS, says Bhagwat’, The Indian Express, Delhi, 11-01-2011, p. 3 quoted in https://www.countercurrents.org/shamsul200113.pdf)
A combination of strict discipline, military type of training and action against the óther' pervades the broad universe of Hindutva organisations.
Critics and opponents of this exclusivist project have been underlining it since quite some time.
Commissions appointed by governments to look into riots in post-independence India have been consistent in underlying the alleged role of the local level cadres of the Hindutva Brigade.
Scholars of communal conflicts who have observed /studied Hindu-Muslim riots in post-Independent India have talked about emergence of "institutionalised riot systems" in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. (http://www.paulbrass.comthe_production_of_hindu_muslim_violence_in_contemporary_india_16681.htm)
e.g. The demolition of Babri Mosque by hordes of Hindutva Supremacist forces - which recently completed twenty five years - was also a very organised affair - which was cloaked under 'spontaniety of the masses' by interested quarters. e.g. The video magazine 'Newstrack'had then sent a team of reporters on the infamous day.
The recordings captured Hindu leaders, including .., exhorting the crowd that the masjid must be destroyed and a temple built. ..
Rehearsals of demolition teams practising with ropes, pick-axes and boulders were recorded by Newstrack. The images included Bajrang Dal leader .. in khaki shorts ‘directing’ with a whistle...
The idea of discipline and penchant for military type action is even visible in co-travellers on the Hindutva path. Remember what Justice Srikrishna commission - which was formed to look into Mumbai riots in Dec 1992 and Jan 2013 - had said about Bal Thackeray. It had unambiguously stated that Thackeray "like a veteran general commanded his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate with organised attacks against Muslims". (https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/19980817-srikrishna-panel-report-indicts-shiv-sena-chief-bal-thackeray-for-role-in-1993-mumbai-riots-826921-1998-08-17).
Interestingly relative newcomers on this path - who want to turn India into Hindu Rashtra - seem more explicit. Organisations like Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samity (SS and HJS) - where destruction of evildoers’ is an integral part of ‘spiritual practice’ and where this‘destruction’ is to be done at ‘physical and psychological level’, seekers ( called 'Sadhaks) are also provided with training in arms – rifles, trishuls, lathis and other weapons' to facilitate this ‘Dharm Kranti’ (religious revolution) . (http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/history-background-of-sanatan-sansthas-war-on-evildoers/) A very important text in the training of the seekers/ Sadhaksis 'Texts on Defence' where seekers of divine kingdom are also imparted training with air rifles ( Vol 3 H – Self Defence Training, Chapter 6, Page 108-109) ( For further details see : https://kafila.online/2008/07/03/spiritual-as-communal/)
Could it be said that Bhagwat's claim was 'a slip of toungue' or was an empty boast made to boost the morale of its cadres or he was serious about it.
While one can debate the timing of the statement, but nobody can say that he did not mean what he said or is ignorant of what he meant.
Reports galore where affiliated organisations of RSS - namely Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini - are seen imparting training supposedly for self defence which also involves rifle training ( https://www.newsgram.com/durga-vahini-a-self-defense-program-for-hindu-women-in-india ; https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/j-k-girls-turn-up-in-huge-numbers-at-durga-vahini-training-camp-for-self-defence-exercise-325387.html).
But what has largely gone unnoticed is the establishment of a proper military school by Dr B S Munje, mentor of Dr Hedgewar and one of the founders of RSS.( Apart from Dr Hedgewar, and Dr B S Munje, Dr L V Paranjpe, Dr B B Thalkar and Baburao Savarkar - V.D. Savarkar's brother were present at the inaugural meeting of RSS on Vijaya Dashmi - Ref : Page 16, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags, Tapan Basu, Pradip Datta, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Sambuddha Sen) which completed eighty years last year.
This military school had come under scanner when investigations started to unearth the sprawling network of Hinduva terror when it was discovered that premises of this school were used for holding military style training camps for band of fanatics. Reports had appeared in a section of the press that ‘[t]here are leads of some Hindu leaders from Bangladesh having attended the training camps held at the Bhonsala Military School, “(outlook 23 Nov 2008).
In one of the first exhaustive writeup "“Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: Archival evidence” in Economic & Political Weekly, January 22, 2000 Marzia Casolari ( http://www.epw.in/journal/2000/04/special-articles/hindutvas-foreign-tie-1930s.html) had provided details of Dr Munje's tour of Italy, his meeting with Mussolini and his impressions of The Balilla institutions an idea conceived by Mussolini for the 'military regeneration of Italy' and his resolve to to develop similar institution with ''our institution Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh"
India and particularly Hindu India need some such institution for the military regeneration of the Hindus: so that the artificial distinction so much emphasised by the British of martial and non-martial classes amongst the Hindus may disappear. Our institution of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh of Nagpur under Dr Hedgewar is of this kind, though quite independently conceived. I will spend the rest of my life in developing and extending this Institution of Dr Hedgewar all throughout the Maharashtra and other province
After returning to India Moonje formed the Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nasik in 1935 and started the school on 12th June 1937. If one refers to the official website of the School one discovers that
"...[T]he school started functioning in the Surgana Palace in Nasik city with 90 students on its roll. The Maharaja of erstwhile Gwalior state, H H Shriman Jivajirao Scindia inaugurated the main building of the school. In his inaugural speech, He said, “It is not a mere coincidence that within a short period of the opening of a first rate public school in India (he was referring to the Doon School, Dehradun), we are here today to open a first rate Military School.”
It is aimed
"..to bring about military regeneration of the Hindus and to fit Hindu youths for undertaking the entire responsibility for the defence of their motherland. ... to educate them in the ‘Sanatan Dharma’, and to train them “in the science and art of personal and national defence” (‘Central Hindu Military Education Society,’ NMML, Munje Papers, subject files, n 24, 1932-36)
As rightly noted by Prof Shamsul Islam ( https://www.countercurrents.org/shamsul200113.pdf) it provided "Hindu military officers to the British Army in its campaign to crush the attempt by Subhash Chandra Bose led INA to liberate India" and it was thus a "colloborative project between the British rulers and their Indian stooges" which was executed by these Hindutva organisations'.
The school celebrated platinum jubilee of its founding in 2012 and Mohan Bhagwat was invited as a Chief Guest for the function. In his long speech he had made two significant points : One, "..[E]xpressing concern over the dominance of ‘rich and powerful people’ in politics, besides the soaring inflation rate, he said that India’s situation was better during the British rule"" Two, he …"laid stress on the need for imparting military education to students, citing rising threat to the nation"

February 16, 2018

भारत के विभाजन और कश्मीर समस्या के लिए कौन उत्तरदायी है ? राम पुनियानी

भारत के विभाजन और कश्मीर समस्या के लिए कौन उत्तरदायी है ?
-राम पुनियानी
राजनैतिक शक्तियां अपने एजेंडे को लागू करने के लिए इतिहास को तोड़ती-मरोड़ती तो हैं ही, वे अतीत की घटनाओं और उनकी निहितार्थों के सम्बन्ध में सफ़ेद झूठ बोलने से भी नहीं हिचकिचातीं. जहाँ तक इतिहास का प्रश्न है, उस पर यह सिद्धांत पूरी तरह से लागू होता है कि “तथ्य पवित्र हैं, मत स्वतंत्र है” अर्थात आप तथ्यों के साथ छेड़-छाड़ नहीं कर सकते परन्तु आप उनके बारे में कोई भी राय रखने के लिए स्वतंत्र है. परन्तु मोदी और उनके जैसे अन्यों के लिए “प्रेम और युद्ध में सब जायज है”. अपनी व्यक्तिगत महत्वकांक्षाएं पूरी करने और अपने राजनैतिक एजेंडे को लागू करने के प्रयास में मोदी सभी सीमायें पार कर रहे हैं. सरदार पटेल का महिमामंडन करने के लिए वे जवाहरलाल नेहरु का कद छोटा करने का प्रयास कर रहे हैं और इन दोनों नेताओं को एक-दूसरे का प्रतिद्वंद्वी सिद्ध करने पर आमादा हैं. उनके इस प्रयास के दो लक्ष्य हैं. पहला, चूँकि “मोदी परिवार” ने कभी स्वाधीनता आन्दोलन में भागीदारी नहीं की इसलिए वे पटेल को अपना बताकर इस कमी को पूरा करना चाहते हैं. यह इस तथ्य के बावजूद कि पटेल का यह स्पष्ट मत था कि मोदी के वैचारिक पितामह (हिन्दू महासभा- आरएसएस), महात्मा गाँधी की हत्या के लिए ज़िम्मेदार थे. “...इन दोनों संस्थाओं (आरएसएस और हिन्दू महासभा) की गतिविधियों के चलते, देश में ऐसा वातावरण बना जिसके कारण इतनी भयावह त्रासदी संभव हो सकी...आरएसएस की गतिविधियाँ, सरकार और राज्य के अस्तित्व के लिए खतरा हैं”.
जहाँ तक देश के त्रासद विभाजन का प्रश्न हैं, ऐसी अनेक विद्वत्तापूर्ण पुस्तकें और लेख उपलब्ध हैं, जो हमें न केवल विभाजन की पृष्ठभूमि से परिचित करवाते हैं बल्कि यह भी बताते हैं कि वह अनेक जटिल प्रक्रियाओं और कारकों का नतीजा था. यह सही है कि यह प्रक्रिया इतनी जटिल थी और इसके इतने विविध पहलू और कारण थे कि आप उनमें से किसी एक को चुन कर अपना मनमाना चित्र प्रस्तुत कर सकते हैं. जिन्ना के समर्थकों की दृष्टि में, देश के विभाजन के लिए कांग्रेस ज़िम्मेदार थी. मोदी भी जिन्ना-समर्थकों की तरह, कांग्रेस को ही कटघरे में खड़ा कर रहे हैं. 
विभाजन के पीछे तीन मूल कारण थे. इनमें से पहला था अंग्रेजों की फूट डालो और राज करो की नीति. अंग्रेज़ यह जानते थे कि भारत के राजनैतिक नेतृत्व का समाजवाद की ओर झुकाव है और उन्हें डर था कि स्वाधीन भारत, अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर रूस के नेतृत्व वाले समाजवादी देशों के गठबंधन के साथ जुड़ सकता है. अपने साम्राज्यवादी हितों की पूर्ति के लिए अंग्रेज़ चाहते थे कि दुनिया के इस इलाके में एक ऐसा देश हो जो उनका पिछलग्गू बना रहे. और पाकिस्तान ने यह भूमिका बखूबी अदा की. अंग्रेजों के लिए अपना यह लक्ष्य पूरा करना इसलिए आसान हो गया क्योंकि सावरकर, जो कि मोदी की विचारधारा के मूल प्रतिपादक थे, ने द्विराष्ट्र सिद्धांत के स्थापना की. तीसरा कारण था जिन्ना की यह मान्यता कि चूँकि मुस्लिम एक अलग राष्ट्र हैं इसलिए उनका एक अलग देश होना चाहिए.
अपनी एक महत्वपूर्ण पुस्तक “गिल्टी मेन ऑफ़ इंडियास पार्टीशन” में लोहिया लिखते हैं...”हिन्दू कट्टरवाद, उन शक्तियों में शामिल था जो भारत के विभाजन का कारण बनीं...जो लोग आज चिल्ला-चिल्लाकर अखंड भारत की बात कर रहे हैं अर्थात आज का जनसंघ (भाजपा का पूर्व अवतार), और उसके पूर्ववर्तियों, जो हिन्दू धर्म की ‘गैर-हिन्दू” परंपरा के वाहक थे, ने भारत का विभाजन करने में अंग्रेजों और मुस्लिम लीग की मदद की. उन्होंने कतई यह प्रयास नहीं किया कि हिन्दू और मुस्लिम नज़दीक आयें और एक देश में रहें. बल्कि उन्होंने हिन्दुओं और मुसलमानों के परस्पर संबंधों को ख़राब करने के लिए हर संभव प्रयास किये. और दोनों समुदायों के बीच यही अनबन और मनमुटाव भारत के विभाजन की जड़ बनी...”.
समय के साथ जिन्ना ने भी अलग पाकिस्तान की अपनी मांग पर और अड़ियल रूख अपना लिया. नेहरु के यह कहने के बाद कि वे कैबिनेट मिशन योजना से बंधे हुए नहीं हैं, जिन्ना ने यह साफ़ कर दिया के वे अलग पाकिस्तान की अपनी मांग से पीछे हटने वाले नहीं हैं.
जिस समय अंग्रेज़ ये चालें चल रहे थे, गांधीजी देश में मुसलमानों और हिन्दुओं के बीच धधक रही हिंसा की आग को बुझाने में व्यस्त थे. उन्होंने हिंदुस्तान-पाकिस्तान का मुद्दा सुलझाने का काम अपने विश्वस्त सहयोगियों सरदार पटेल और नेहरु के हाथों में सौंप दिया था. मौलाना अबुल कलाम आजाद अपनी विद्वतापूर्ण पुस्तक “इंडिया विन्स फ्रीडम” में लिखते हैं कि सरदार पटेल पहले ऐसे प्रमुख कांग्रेस नेता थे, जिन्होंने भारत के विभाजन की अंग्रेजों की योजना का समर्थन किया था. मौलाना ने कभी विभाजन को स्वीकार नहीं किया और गांधीजी ने अंततः भारी मन से इस योजना को अपनी स्वीकृति दी. उन्हें यह आशा थी कि भारत कभी न कभी फिर से एक हो जायेगा. मोदी मंत्रिमंडल के सदस्य एमजे अकबर ने नेहरु की अपनी जीवनी “नेहरु - द मेकिंग ऑफ़ इंडिया” (1988) में लिखा “भारत के लौह पुरुष सरदार वल्लभ भाई पटेल ने रूमानी नेहरु के बहुत पहले देश के विभाजन को स्वीकार कर लिया था” (पृष्ठ 406).
हम सबको याद है कि मोदी की पार्टी के एक बड़े नेता जसवंत सिंह ने अपनी एक पुस्तक (जिन्ना, पार्टीशन, इंडिपेंडेंस) में पटेल की भूमिका की चर्चा करते हुए लिखा था कि पटेल ने परिस्थितियों के आगे झुकते हुए विभाजन को स्वीकार लिया. यही कारण है कि गुजरात के तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री के रूप में, मोदी ने इस पुस्तक को अपने राज्य में प्रतिबंधित कर दिया था.
कश्मीर समस्या के बारे में जितना कम कहा जाये, उतना बेहतर होगा. यह समस्या ऐतिहासिक परिस्थितियों की उपज थी. कश्मीर एक मुस्लिम-बहुल राज्य था परन्तु वह पाकिस्तान का हिस्सा बनना नहीं चाहता था. पाकिस्तान की सेना के सहयोग से कबाइलियों  द्वारा राज्य पर आक्रमण करने के बाद वहां के महाराज हरिसिंह ने भारत की मदद मांगीं. शेख अब्दुल्ला यह चाहते थे कि भारत उनकी मदद करे. इस मामले में पटेल और नेहरु की सोच एक सी थी. पटेल तो कश्मीर घाटी पर भारत का दावा छोड़ने के लिए तक तैयार थे. राजमोहन गाँधी ने पटेल की अपनी जीवनी (पटेल: ए लाइफ) में लिखा है कि पटेल इस सौदे के लिए तैयार थे कि अगर जिन्ना, हैदराबाद और जूनागढ़ को भारत का हिस्सा बन जाने दें तो भारत, कश्मीर के पाकिस्तान में विलय पर कोई आपत्ति नहीं करेगा. वे पटेल की जूनागढ़ के बहाउद्दीन कॉलेज में दिए गए एक भाषण को उद्दत करते हैं जिसमें उन्होंने कहा था कि “हम कश्मीर पर राजी हो जायेगें, अगर वे हैदराबाद के बारे में हमारी बात मान लें”, (पृष्ठ 407-8). यह भाषण पटेल ने जूनागढ़ के भारत में विलय के बाद दिया था. 
पटेल-नेहरु संबंधों के बारे में सबसे महत्वपूर्ण कथन राष्ट्रपिता महात्मा गाँधी का है. ‘इंडियन एक्सप्रेस’ से बात करते हुए उन्होंने कहा था कि मोटे तौर पर, कश्मीर सहित सभी मामलों में पटेल और नेहरु की सोच एक सी थी. मोदी एक झूठ को बार-बार दोहरा कर, उसे सच सिद्ध करना चाहते हैं. वह सिर्फ इसलिए क्योंकि उसमें उन्हें अपना फायदा नज़र आता है. (कुछ सन्दर्भ सुधीन्द्र कुलकर्णी की पुस्तक “मोदीस डिसलाइक फॉर नेहरु कैननोट ओब्लिटीरेट द फैक्ट्स” से)
(अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया) 

Religion was always recognised in India’s public sphere — but, unlike now, in the plural | Christophe Jaffrelot

Indian Express
The most Hindu of them all
Religion was always recognised in India’s public sphere — but, unlike now, in the plural
Written by Christophe Jaffrelot | Updated: February 16, 2018 7:16 am
The most Hindu of them all Zee News presented the story with the title “Rahul ko Hindu hone ka garv nahi?” Republic TV ran the hashtag #RahulHinduorCatholic During the last election campaign in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi was challenged by the BJP to say whether he was a Hindu or not. The party, and maybe the nation, wanted to know and he was asked the same question repeatedly, as if the religious identity of the political leader was now a key factor of his legitimacy. The question arose after Rahul had been accused of signing the temple trust register for non-Hindus, while visiting the temple of Somnath. As it turned out, he had not been presented any register during his visit and someone had signed for him and for Ahmed Patel, who was accompanying him. But before this new instance of fake news had been exposed, social media and TV channels had exploited the issue to the full.
Zee News presented the story with the title “Rahul ko Hindu hone ka garv nahi?” Republic TV ran the hashtag #RahulHinduorCatholic and asked questions such as “When you were 27-years-old, the New York Times listed you as a Catholic. Did you correct them?” Times Now conducted a prime-time debate at 8 pm and 9 pm with the hashtag #RagaSomnathSelfGoal. On the defensive, the Congress communication chief, Randeep Surjewala, declared: “We have no hesitation in saying that Rahul Gandhi is not only a Hindu but wears a sacred thread.”
The question of the Gandhis’ religion had arisen before. Not only had Congress leaders, including Sharad Pawar, seceded to form the NCP in the late 1990s partly because the new president, Sonia Gandhi, was a Christian, but in 2002, the BJP of Gujarat suggested that the Chief Election Commissioner, J M Lyngdoh, refused to organise elections after Narendra Modi had dissolved the assembly in order to get a post-riot and post-polarisation fresh mandate, not because refugee camps were full of Muslims who would not be in a position to vote, but because he was playing into the hands of another Christian, Sonia Gandhi, again. Such a discourse reflects an equation between religion and national allegiance that transforms non-Hindus into potentially anti-national elements. A similar approach resulted in one of the provisions of the first Pakistani Consitution according to which the head of the state had to be a Muslim.
The Somnath-related controversy unfolded while Rahul was visiting one temple after another in the framework of the Gujarat election campaign. He visited almost as many temples as Modi this time. Subsequently, Ashok Gehlot, the chief architect of the Congress campaign in Gujarat, explained that the Congress had to do it to dispel the impression created by the BJP that the grand old party was for Muslims and against Hindus. A few months later, another senior Congress leader, Shashi Tharoor, published a book titled “Why I am a Hindu”, another way to contest the BJP’s claim that it epitomised and maybe monopolised the religion of the largest community.
These developments are revealing not only of the role of a sensationalist media hardly interested in cross checking sources, but also, and more importantly, of the political use of religion in India today. To be or not to be a Hindu has become a key question, as if the legitimacy of a politician and even his ability to govern was measured by this criterion.
Critics have denounced the “soft Hindutva” syndrome of the Congress, a very complicated subject indeed. In fact, the party has never defined secularism as hostility to religion or even as an a-religious ideology. Jawaharlal Nehru presented this “ism” in this manner in 1961: “We talk about a secular state in India. It is perhaps not very easy even to find a good word in Hindi for ‘secular’. Some people think it means something opposed to religion. That obviously is not correct. What it means is that it is a state which honours all faiths equally and gives them equal opportunities”.
Rahul Gandhi kicks off Gujarat tour, offers prayers at Somnath Temple Rahul Gandhi offers prayers at Somnath Temple (INC) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, President of India when Nehru was Prime Minister, expressed Nehru’s vision in equally eloquent terms: “When India is said to be a secular state, it does not mean that we as a people reject the reality of an unseen spirit or the relevance of religions to life or that we exalt irreligion. It does not mean that secularism itself becomes a positive religion or that the state assumes divine prerogatives. Though faith in the supreme spirit is the basic principle of the Indian tradition, our state will not identify itself with or be controlled by any particular religion.”
In other words, religion was recognised in the public sphere by these leaders, but in the plural, in a multicultural perspective. Nehru and Radhakrishnan — like several articles of the Indian Constitution — drew some of their inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi himself, who wrote in Hind Swaraj (1909): “If the Hindus believe that India should be peopled only by Hindus, then they are living in dreamland. The Hindus, the Mahommedans, the Parsis and the Christians who have made India their country are fellow countrymen, and they will have to live in unity, if only for their own interest. In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India.”
Gandhi was a Hindu the secular way. On the one hand, he followed the Bhagavad Gita and venerated the cow. On the other hand, considering that each religion was equally valid, he chaired the All India Khilafat Committee in 1919 and constantly defended the religious minorities. For decades and even more than one hundred years, Congress has been a party of temple-going Hindus who respected other faiths and were, therefore, secular the Indian way.
The challenge for the party today is to restore an idea of India where to assert one’s Hindu identity would not imply some anti-Muslim or anti-Christian attitude, at a time when xenophobia has gained so much momentum. Hindu majoritarianism has become such a powerful discourse that it may well be the main reason why not only are Congress leaders visiting temples again, but why they have also stopped nominating Muslim candidates in substantial numbers at the time of elections (only six out of 170 in Gujarat). Congress leaders may argue that this is a tactical move, but Mahatma Gandhi would object that the end is in the means and, indeed, there may only be a difference of degree and not of nature between the Congress and BJP if this trend continues, reaching a point of no return.

The writer is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian politics and sociology at King’s India Institute, London