By Vidya Bhushan Rawat, 13 February, 2007
BJP's manifesto for Uttarakhand reflects the bankruptcy of its ideology. That Sanskrit will be the state language and the government would pass anti conversion laws shows that BJP has not learnt the methods of governance at all. It also shows how the saffron party does not talk of governance but only hate formula to win an election.
Nobody knows it better than the saffron outfit how to claim the legacy of an entire movements, which has dominated the dreams of a common man in Uttarkhand. Neither the BJP nor the Congress party ever contested on the plank of a separate hill state. Major political leaders of both the parties in Uttar-Pradesh came from the powerful Brahmin communities of the hills. In fact, Uttar Pradesh, due to its geographical and influential Brahmin population always remains the hunting ground for the 'national' leaders of Uttarakhand. The tiny Indian state remained useless for their grand Indian vision. But one decision of Mulayam Singh government to implement Mandal Commission Report in the hills created so much of blood bath and later the unfortunate incident of the Rampur ka tiraha, that the entire history of the state changed.
More than five years of Uttarakhand with two different governments, things have not changed in the hills. The only thing that is changed is that the bureaucracy has increased its head. While the Congress party does not have credible face. It imposed upon the state a chief minister who might have been a heavyweight and so-called father of 'industrialization' of Uttar-Pradesh, it really betrayed the popular sentiments of the hill state. Congress never contested the election under the leadership of N.D.Tiwari. Similarly, when the BJP created Uttaranchal State, clearly it betrayed the popular sentiments by changing the name of the state. Secondly, it also imposed on the state a leader Nityanand Swami who does not have any standing in the hills, neither is he considered to be a sympathizer of the hill state. Finally, buckling under the pressure of the party cadres, the high command made Bhagat Singh Koshiari, an obedient follower of the Sangh, Chief Minister of the state. The things did not work. Being a state where popular aspirations were rising high, BJP could not fulfill those and lost the poll to Congress.
Congress as usual did nothing to assuage the feelings of those who sacrificed their lives for the creation of the new state. Growing discontents in the party forced ND Tiwari, a veteran from Uttar-Pradesh to spend huge sum of money on his discretionary quota. Therefore, every MLA had a list to support people from his/her constituency. Governance was nowhere except that the government was very keen to invite 'foreign' investment which many of the resident Uttarakhandi's are proudly claiming would make Uttarakhand a Switzerland. Without going into the merits of these nonsensical debates, it is shocking that the non resident Uttarakhandis' do not seem to be worried about the growing discontent in Uttarakhand on the current module of development. The environmental hazards of mining near Dehradun once destroyed the beauty of the city, the big damns that are being constructed on the lines of Narmada, the rivers which are being sold to the multinational and above all the dangers of global warming on the Himalayan glaciers will devastate the hill culture and geography. But in the din of money, we want to claim that the Uttarakhand has become Switzerland, though many of them may not even know how democratic is the Swiss system of governance. Governance in Uttarakhand means a heavy police system with red beacon vehicles followed by the chums of political leaders.
Moreover, to become Switzerland, one needs values of impartiality, a system where individual dignity is restored. Where mind is free from racial and caste prejudices. Uttarakhhand has not really got rid of them. Who will it blame if the women continue to face the brunt of male chauvinism. Who will we blame if the Dalits face threatened in the entire state and rarely consider them part of the mainstream.
Now, we see the manifesto of the Hindutva party which is worried about cow protection while give a damn to people's aspiration. It talks of a Sanskriti but keep quiet on the issue of sanskriti. Will it be the hegimonistic brahmanical values, which the Brahmin bosses of the Sangh always preach us? Why is a party so much bothered about conversion in the hills? Why the hell it want to go on an agenda, which has nothing to do in the hills. Even if there are Christians or Muslims in the hills propagating their faith, the Hindutva people have equal rights to propagate their faith. Clear enough, the brahmanical religion of Hindus has never been missionary in zeal and practice and therefore this superfluous threat perception from the minorities. Can they deny me right to convert if I wish to do so? And who has given them the authority to decide about an individual's freedom and choice of religion to be followed.
The fact of the matter is that state like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat give no option to people. They make people look similar though mask may change in one form or the others but 'identity' business work. Hence, in all these states, the parties have been dominated by the Hindutva ideology whether it is BJP or Congress or even the so-called third front. That has been the hallmark of the Hindutva agenda to Hinduise the political parties and bureaucracy. Hence, when BJP comes out with an agenda of cow protection and a law against conversion in Uttarakhand state, it clearly reflect the mindset of its upper caste leadership which has no constructive thing to offer to the people of the hill state. Congress leadership of Himachal Pradesh has already brought anti conversion laws. The fact is that the tears of those who lost their nears and dear ones have not dried and the party is playing ultra-national politics in the hills. A calculation of the number of dead soldiers in the Kargil war gives clear report how a majority of hill soldiers lost their lives while BJP went offensive in other part of the country to get votes. This ultranationalism helps the Hindutva to warm up the state for its own dubious purposes and befool the masses into the national framework. While the needs and issues of the Uttarakhand are entirely regional the Hindutva want to turn it into a National referendum against minorities.
It is more than ironical since there are not much issues related to minorities in the Uttarakhand. Unlike UP where Muslims are a major chunk to influence the votes, Uttarakhand does not have such a religious diversity. But then, as I have always mention that if India were a totally upper caste state, the Sangh Parivar and its Brahmin bosses would become totally redundant since in a Hindu upper caste state, the Brahmin would become a minority and therefore may not get the power. Even in the Uttarakhand state, where the Brahmins and Thakurs come together to hate the Dalits and minorities but do not like each other despite all public pretence.
BJP's fad reflect from the fact that it has not stated anything on the migration of the Uttarakhand people to other state converting it to mere money order economy. Rather, it has used an idiotic issue of Sanskrit as a state language. Whose interest the Hindutva want to serve? Clear enough, the Sanskrit language, which has no value except for those who wish their children to capture the huge temples in the hills and do the social work of performing wedding and dying rituals; there is virtually nothing in the language. Where was the need to rake up this issue of Sanskrit? Do all the hill people speak Sanskrit? Why did the BJP not raise the issue in Uttar-Pradesh or Gujarat, which is its laboratory?
Uttarakhand people have to be careful by such destructive agendas of th
e Hindutva outfits. They must reject the caste notion and identity politics of the Hindutva based on hatred against the minorities. Where was the need to rake up this issue in Uttarakhand. Does it have any constructive programme for the hills? One must not ignore the fact that the Hindutva laboratory function well in the upper caste dominated states. Even leaders like ND Tiwari who remained a Brahmin first and secular later, the Hindutva's mascot Ashok Singhal gave him certificate of the best chief minister of India. Tiwari deliberately gave support to Swami Ramdev against whom lot of complaints were lodged with the health ministry.
It would be unfortunate, if the people of Uttarakhand allow themselves to be swallowed by the narrow casteist political leaders masquerading as the champion of Hindutva or nationalist leaders, who do not have any agenda for the hill state and its people. Five years have gone and people of the state feel betrayed by both the nationalist parties.
The mountains of Uttarakhand remain unparallel. So are the people. They are simple and have been truly nationalists. But the ultra nationalist forces who have contributed very little for the development of the state have exploited this nationalism. Uttarakhand need a government where every one can own the government and where sarkari babus are not to suck the blood of the innocent people, where the MLAs are not your bosses but your companions and where every community remains in peace with other. Let the Hindutva work for social cohesion in Uttarkhand rather than raking up useless issues. Let Hindutva's managers work for a combine strength of upper caste with out any façade of Hindu Unity. There cannot be any Hindu Unity by abusing the Muslims and Christians.
It would be better for them to start a movement to eliminate the castes? The Hindutva talks of Samarasta by organizing joint meals but it has never worked on inter caste marriages. At least, if it wants to make Uttarakhand a laboratory of Hindutva first, start this from the upper castes? Let the Thakurs and Brahmins of Uttarkhand organize marriages together and give lessons to the people of other parts of the country. The Sangh Parivar knows it well that it is an impossible task and hence hate against Muslim and Christian is the biggest agenda for them to come back to power. Hope the people will realize this and reject such forcees. Uttarakhand need a coalition government of all communities so that the Hindutva's experiment is defeated in the very beginning. It is important to have leaders of quality and not just with one point programme to capture power. Smaller states are turning dangerous these days. It is easier for the international financial institutions to pressurize them under the pretext of investment. The people of Uttarakhand may not know the dangers of privatization of water but they have more worry about Muslims and Christians. They may not know much about the plight of the Tehri Dam evacuees as they have got the issue of Sanskrit language, which will give them employment as suggested by the Sangh Parivar. Smaller state may be good for governance but easy to implement the agenda of the Hindutva.
The experiment of Hindutva continues in Chhatishgarh where they made Raman Singh, a non Chhatisgarhi, a Thakur, Chief Minister, in Jharkhand, they wanted to change and impose a leadership, which backfired, and in Uttarkhand, they brought a man called Nitya Nand Swami whose track record is well known to be mentioned here. The hate formula worked in all the other states. In Chhatishgarh, we have everything for the Babas, Thugs and international corporate houses but nothing for the poor tribals. The economic interest of the powerful non Chhatishgarhi elite are being persevered by the government. In Jharkhand, while tribal die of hunger, Ramdev become state guest to preach Yoga to the MLAs, in Uttarkhand, ND Tiwari was the best person to protect the interest of Hindutva and therefore there was not much needed. Since Twiariji is on his way out, the BJP and its various leaders are ready to capture the space. Ofcourse, the Thakurs and the Brahmins will always fight with each other as their interest clash with each other. But who care for ideology, caste will rule Supreme in Uttarakhand, except from the fact, public posturing unity among people would always be there.
For a better Uttarakhand, let the people raise local issues and leave these national issues to national politicians. The more some body focuses on so-called national issues, the bigger the chances of betrayal of popular sentiments in the 'national interest'. Uttarkhand's voters have always paid the price of being nationalist, now time has come that they shed this stigma of nationalism and question every politicians and throw them to garbage who are giving them useless slogans and destructive ideas. Let Bijli Sadak paani aur rojgar (Electricity, water and employment) dominate the political discourse there. If hate agenda wins in Uttarakhand, it will the upper castes only who will have to pay heavy price and not any one else. We all know how politicians thrive on hate propaganda for their own dubious purposes. Beware with such hate politics and defeat their agendas.