Time has turned Hindutva fascist Vajpayee into a moderate

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s writings clearly indicate that he held both Muslims and Christians (more specifically Muslims) as foreigners and viewed their patriotism with suspicion. (Image: PIB)

The Narendra Modi led NDA government at the Centre has declared to bestow Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. With this award, Vajpayee finds himself amid the likes of several iconic Indians from various fields including BR Ambedkar and Sachin Tendulkar.

But was Vajpayee the kind of leader he is projected to be by the BJP today? Was he an accommodative consensus builder or was he just another Hindutva fascist, who has turned into a moderate with the passage of time?

The answer unfortunately rests in the fact that Vajpayee was as foul mouthed a leader as the likes of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. In an article titled ‘Sangh is in my soul’, Vajpayee had written, “… We don’t want to destroy this diversity. The other task is to assimilate the non-Hindus, like Muslims and Christians in the mainstream. They can follow the faith of their own conviction. No one can object to it. We worship trees, animals, stones, and what not. We have hundreds of ways of worshipping God. They can go where they want. But this country must be looked upon as the motherland for them. They must have a feeling of patriotism for this country. But the Islamic division of the world into ‘Darul Harb’ and ‘Darul Islam’ comes in the way.”

He had further stated, “Islam has yet to learn the art of existing and flourishing in a country where Muslims are in a minority. They cannot convert the whole of India to Islam. After all, they have to live here. So they have to recognize this fact. And today it has become a matter of grave concern and deep thinking in the Muslim countries. Because Quran offers no guidance in this regard, it only talks of killing kafirs or converting them to Islam. But they cannot do it always and everywhere. How can they do it where they are in a minority? If they try to do it, a major clash will take place and only the members of the minority will be killed.”

Vajpayee’s writings clearly indicate that he held both Muslims and Christians (more specifically Muslims) as foreigners and viewed their patriotism with suspicion. Moreover, Vajpayee made certain highly misleading remarks about the Quran, the holy book of Muslims. The Quran speaks of religious freedom in numerous verses (2:256 & 109:6) wherein it states that “there is no compulsion in religion” and “to you, your religion and to me, mine” but Vajpayee sought to make hysterical remarks like the Quran sanctioning murder of non-Muslims.

Vajpayee’s tone seemed to be similar to that of AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi as he spoke of a “major clash” between Hindus and Muslims. The only difference in Vajpayee’s prophecy being that such a clash would lead to the killing of “only the members of the minority.”

Further, Vajpayee was often touted as the “right man in the wrong party” vis-a-vis the issue of Babri Mosque demolition. After all innocent Vajpayee wasn’t even present in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when his party was at the forefront of crucifying Indian secularism by razing the Babri Masjid to the ground! But was Vajpayee really innocent?

In a rally held on December 5, 1992 (a day before the demolition of the Babri Mosque) at Jhandewalan Park in Lucknow, Vajpayee had said, “There is no question of stopping. By doing kar seva in Ayodhya we will not be disrespecting any court order, by doing kar seva we will be respecting and obeying the Supreme Court order.”

Vajpayee went on to state that the court had allowed them to conduct “bhajan, kirtan programmes” at Ayodhya but they could not be done by “one person” nor could they be done by “standing”. He argued that there was a need for “even more people for kirtan”, which was a clear nod for mobilization of large number of Hindus before marching to Ayodhya.

Thereafter, through appropriate use of concealed language, Vajpayee gave the nod for the demolition of the Babri Mosque by saying, “There were sharp stones that came out, no one can sit there, the ground has to be levelled, it has to be made fit for sitting.”

The Liberhan Commission set up by the Government of India to investigate into the demolition of the Babri Mosque was clever enough to see through Vajpayee’s bluff. It not only indicted Vajpayee for being a part of the conspiracy to destroy the Babri Mosque but also labelled him as a “pseudo-moderate”.

A lot of people consider Vajpayee to be secular because he apparently asked Narendra Modi to do his ‘Raj Dharma’ in the aftermath of the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. But if one sees the complete video of that press conference, then in the end Vajpayee expresses his confidence in Modi and says that the he is doing his ‘Raj Dharma’. It doesn’t end over here. People’s Democracy (Vol 26, No. 22, June 9, 2002) reports the controversial remarks of Prime Minister AB Vajpayee at BJP’s summit in Goa on April 12. He is on record having said, “Jahan jahan Musalman hain ghul milkar nahi rehte hain” (wherever there are Muslims they don’t live in peace). He added, “They don’t want to mix with others. Instead, they want to preach and propagate their religion by creating fear and terror in the minds of others.”

Does such a man deserve the Bharat Ratna?

The BJP is merely interested in furthering its political legacy. But the sad reality is that this award would make Vajpayee a national icon in the eyes of several generations to come. But the truth is that he was an Islamophobic, hate monger. With the passage of time, the masses seem to have forgotten Vajpayee’s views.

It is disheartening to see how the Bharat Ratna has been politicized. Equally disheartening is the manner in which it is being handed out. The Congress government made the timing of the announcement of the award coincide with Sachin Tendulkar’s last test match. BJP has followed their footsteps and made the announcement just one day before Vajpayee’s birthday.

Such ceremonial announcements seem to erode the credibility and stature of the award. Why should the timing coincide with an event concerning the awardee – be it his last test match or yet another birthday?

But such is politics and it would continue to be so.


(This article was originally published on TwoCircles.net)


The Bharat Ratna Debate


The Government of India has awarded ace batsman Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar with the Bharat Ratna for his contributions to the game of cricket. (Image: Getty)

Sachin Tendulkar’s glorious career came to a picture perfect end when he was awarded with the much deserving Bharat Ratna. The Master Blaster has to his credit an array of cricketing records which include amassing highest number of runs in both one day internationals and tests and also scoring the highest number of centuries in both the formats of the game. Besides Tendulkar, Southern Scientist CNR Rao was also awarded with India’s highest civilian honour. Prof. Rao currently serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. The octogenarian has to his credit over 1500 research papers and has been awarded numerous honorary doctorates by both national and international universities and institutes.

However, the recently announced awards have generated quite a lot of controversy. Prof. Rao’s Bharat Ratna award was bound to be overshadowed had he not labelled politicians as “idiots” for not sanctioning enough funds for carrying out research. The media took this statement of his very seriously as it provided them with ready-made ammunition to question the credentials of the ace-scientist and add murk to the murky procedure of selecting awardees. Let’s come back to the man of the moment, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

We all know that Sachin truly deserved the award but unfortunately, the award has come at the wrong time for him. Let me reiterate that the Bharat Ratna is bigger than every individual in this nation. Somehow, Bharat Ratna has been made to look miniature in front of Sachin as the timing of this announcement has been purposely made to coincide with the retirement of the man from Mumbai.

It would be childish on our part to forget as to how the UPA Govt. is trying to save its skin and reputation by cashing in on celebrities. It was definitely an image-makeover exercise on the part of UPA when we saw Sachin alongside Rekha being sent to the Rajya Sabha. Similarly, we’re witnessing Sachin besides Rao getting the Bharat Ratna as a result of a hush-hush announcement made by the PMO. With due respect to Sachin, it is quite possible that the Congress led UPA is trying to boost its electoral prospects by means of Sachin.

There are other questions which also need to be answered. We were told some time that the Sports Ministry favoured Dhyan Chand over Sachin Tendulkar. What really happened which catapulted Tendulkar over Chand in the race for Bharat Ratna?

Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP’s Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha kick-started the debate as to why Former India Prime Minister AB Vajpayee has not been awarded the Bharat Ratna. He found support from unexpected quarters as Nitish Kumar, Farooq Abdullah and Pallam Raju echoed similar views. Union I&B Minister Manish Tewari responded by stating that Vajpayee cannot be a recipient of the award since he did not follow “Raj Dharma” during 2002 riots in Gujarat. While defending Tewari’s statement on Arnab Goswami’s The Newshour, part spokesman Sanjay Jha referred to the infamous “Babri ya barabari” statement of Vajpayee to say that he stands disqualified from being awarded the Bharat Ratna. Considering the personal indictment of AB Vajpayee by the Liberhan Commission set up to investigate into the Babri Masjid demolition, which by the way called Vajpayee a “pseudo moderate”, it would certainly be a highly controversial call to honour Vajpayee that too at a time when video recordings of him making provocative speeches on the eve of the Babri Masjid demolition have been published for all to view on the web.

Besides supporting Vajpayee, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar pleaded the Government to bestow the honour on legendary socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia. In the past, BSP Supremo Mayawati had said that her mentor Kanshi Ram deserves the highest honour of the land. PCI Chief and Retd. Justice Markandey Katju has also been asking the Government to honour Urdu Poet Ghalib with the Bharat Ratna. Personally, I don’t think it’s a wise step to give away the Bharat Ratna award “posthumously”. Not because the deceased souls are undeserving but because if we keep dwelling in the past, the living souls’ chance won’t ever come. We’ve had such great men emerging from Indian soil that we won’t get an opportunity to honour anyone except them. Right from Buddha, Mahavir Jain and Guru Nanak to Vikramaditya, Ashoka and Akbar, all would be in line to win the award. It would be chaotic if we went around handing out awards in this manner.

The Bharat Ratna award should be above politics. It’s really a shame that the selection procedure for the same is so shrouded in secrecy that we can’t help but question the decisions made. The government should strive to make the procedure a bit more transparent by at least revealing the names of those who are considered for the award every time it is given and the reasons why the awardees have been chosen over the other contenders.