It is often the case in human life that those to whom we owe the most we also hurt the most, as parasites do their host.
How frequently does the Hindutva lobby remind us that the Muslim rate of population growth threatens the primacy of the “Hindu” nation.
Yet, consider this:
Imagine that all Indian Muslims had opted to go join the new Dominion of Pakistan in 1947. What then might have been the shape of Hindutva politics? Would Hindutva politics been either possible at all, or fruitful if tried as a standard electoral gimmick.
Clearly, the right-wing would have been obliged to vie for state power within an exclusively Hindu society, with no “other” to polarise Hindus against.
Calls to the spectre of Hindu victimisation and ‘Muslim appeasement’ – two conjoint tried and tested instruments of Hindutva politics – would have lost all locus and electoral purchase among Hindus.
Evacuee properties left behind by migrated Muslims may well have become a legal conundrum, but hardly a plank on which successful electoral battles may have been fought repeatedly by the right-wing.
Inevitably, the communal void created by the absence of a Muslim population would have foregrounded the realities of caste and class, both very tricky turfs for Hindutva batters to negotiate with any certainty.
Neither on the anvil of caste nor of class could Hindutva’s imperialist pipe-dreams of totalitarian hegemony be forged, as socially and economically oppressed Hindus would have found mere invocations of an Islamic neighbour (poor substitute for non-existant Muslims at home) too far-fetched to drown their woes at the hands of their entrenched ‘upper’ caste, co-Hindu exploiters.
Within the new context of a necessarily secular national ground, issues of nitty gritty livelihood, from the quotidian to the large concerns of the economy would have come to occupy central spaces in the praxis of political parties, since little would have been gained from communalising any issue in the absence of a living and present strawman.
Needless to say that a minuscule Sikh or Christian minority would hardly have served as threats to Hindutva hegemony.
No greater favour was therefore ever done to the Hindutva lobby than by the vast majority of Muslim Indians — those who chose not to leave their beloved Hindustan, which belonged as much to them as to Hindu Indians, and whose ancestors had contributed so richly in countless ways.
To this day, nothing bolsters Hindutva politics as much as the appearance somewhere of a poster bearing Aurangzeb’s likeness.
And, never mind that Aurangzeb was a monarch who thought nothing of incarcerating his father (a fellow Muslim) for life, and of having his brother (another fellow Muslim) murdered; a ruler who both desecrated Hindu temples and, when realpolitik dictated, also gave land grants to them.
A monarch, we ought to know, who had the most number of Rajput officers in his army, just as his celebrated adversary, and Maratha-Hindu icon, Shivaji, had some 60,000 Muslims in his army.
But those are the secular facts of power struggles among rulers of all denominations, facts with which Hindutva politics has little truck.
One may ask, since Hindutva revanchists go far back into ancient times to seek either legitimation or vengeance, what punishment may Hindutva law-givers advise for the Hindus who stood with Aurangzeb, and for Shivaji who had such a humongous number of Muslims in his “anti-Aurangzeb” battalions?
Here is a laugh:
First we are reminded that there are too many Muslims in the country. Too many clearly do not suit Hindutva interests; but not to have any Muslims at all is even worse, for then there is no Muslim Ravana to rail against.
And, then we are also told in the same breath that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh of course, besides Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka etc., are all territorial/cultural components of Akhand Bharat.
Never mind that a mural of Akhand Bharat in the new parliament building triggered a row in neighbouring Hindu Nepal. Now, were Akhand Bharat to become a reality, that new nation would in all likelihood, have close to as many Muslims as Hindus.
How then does that pipe dream gel with the fright we are asked to take each day of each week at the Muslim population in India?
To note: however Hindutva ideologues might contend that all those inhabitants of Akhand Bharat are Hindus, such a construction would hardly wash with so great a Muslim population. What might then have been the contours of Hindutva politics in Akhand Bharat?
Did not the great Samuel Johnson call consistency “the hobgoblin of small minds”? The cold fact is that India’s Muslim citizens in their current numbers do no less than constitute a lifeline to the communal right-wing. Had they been less, the right-wing politics of crying wolf would have seemed patently fake. And had they been many more, they would have taken on the untrammelled bullying of right-wing communal politics.
Think that the ruling BJP, after all the water that has gone under the political bridge since the reading down of Article 370 is still unsure that it can win an assembly election in the so-controlled Union Territory. Were the Kashmir paradigm multiplied manifold through an Akhand Bharat, Hindutva politics may never have had the least future.
How shabby therefore that the ideologues of Hindutva should not be grateful that Muslims exist in India in about the right numbers to enable the politics of sectarian hegemony and profitable hate.
Indeed, the followers of V.D. Savarkar most deserve to give thanks that an Aurangzeb still exists, even if in his grave or on a poster.
No greater guarantee of the continuance of Hindutva politics than its so-called enemy, the Indian Muslim.
And what irony that those who, unwittingly, most ensure such continuance should be so relentlessly at the receiving end of those who feed of their existence.
What would the politics of Hindutva do without an Aurangzeb?
Speaking of which, the Maharashtra deputy chief minister’s characterisation of Muslims as “Aurangzeb ki aulad (child of Aurangzeb)” begs the question: how right would it be to characterise all Hindus as “Godse ki aulad”?
When heads of governments who have sworn oaths to uphold the constitution take to using such language for the people they represent, the republic is clearly in trouble.
All of which highlights the historical importance of the great need on all sides to open a “mohabbat ki dukan in a nafrat ka bazaar (a shop of love in a marketplace of hatred).”
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