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Babri Masjid trial may reveal BJP’s communal face

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Babri Masjid
Photo IANS

The proverb, “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet … with exactness grinds He all”, can be said to apply to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwarts who have been charged with criminal conspiracy in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court for their role in demolishing the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.

It has taken a quarter of a century for the law to catch up with the heroes/villains of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, depending on whether one belongs to the saffron brotherhood or is with the minorities and the Left-Liberals.

There is little doubt that the political fallout of the judgment on their culpability for the destruction of a 16th century protected monument will influence the outcome of the next general election.

While the BJP will hope that a renewed focus on the temple issue, which brought it from the margins of politics to centre-stage, will ensure a consolidation of the Hindu vote, there is also the possibility that the exposure of the BJP’s communal face during the trial will undermine its sabka saath, sabka vikas claim.

Although the BJP has been trying to live down its anti-minority image under Narendra Modi, it is no secret that the Muslims have not been fully reassured in view of the murderous activities of the gau rakshaks (cow protectors) or the love jehad campaigners who oppose inter-faith romances.

The reiteration during the cross-examination of some of the slogans which marked the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation like “ek nahin, teen hazar, nahin rahegi ek mazar” or “Musalmano ka do hi sthan, Pakistan ya kabaristhan”, recalling the promised destruction 3,000 mosques or sending Muslims either to Pakistan or to their graves, cannot but revive memories of the frightening days of the 1990s.

These will not only be a reminder of the essentially communal foundation of the BJP’s growth but also of the fact that it was laid by celebrated figures in the party’s Hall of Fame who will now be standing in the dock. They include L.K. Advani, a former deputy prime minister, and Murli Manohar Joshi, a former human resource development minister.

The list includes one minister of the present Union cabinet, Uma Bharti, who is now supposedly concerned with cleansing the Ganga. But her main claim to fame is the time when she was the stormy petrel of the movement directed against what Advani called the “ocular provocation” of the Babri masjid.

Another “sanyasin” has also been charged. She is Sadhvi Rithambara whose venomous anti-Muslim speeches played a significant role in the mobilisation of the crowd which destroyed the mosque.

But the person whose rhetoric and rath yatra (chariot ride) played the most crucial part in the destruction, which the Supreme court has called a “crime”, is undoubtedly Advani, currently a margdarshak of the BJP or a visionary who shows the party the right path.

It is doubtful, however, if he saw what lay ahead when he embarked on his futile Somnath to Ayodhya journey in 1990 because he didn’t reach his destination since Laloo Prasad Yadav’s government in Bihar arrested him in Samastipur. Nor could he have visualised the possibility of ending up in jail because the judiciary is unlikely to accept the Hindutva camp’s claim that the destruction was an “emphatic assertion” of Hindu pride, as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has said.

Revisiting 1992 may not make any major difference to the existing polarisation between the communal-minded Hindus on one side and the minorities and Left-Liberals on the other. But the BJP’s worry will be the impact on Dalits who have been at the receiving end of saffron ire in recent months as during the confrontation between them and the Rajputs in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and earlier in Una, Gujarat, where several Dalits were lynched for skinning a cow, their traditional occupation.

Although the Dalit-upper caste stand-offs are common, what is new is the emergence of a new generation of Dalits like the lawyers Chandrashekhar Azad “Ravana” and Jignesh Mevani who have been breathing new life into their community’s assertiveness. There is little doubt that they will make effective use of any embarrassment which the BJP may suffer in the event of the arraignment of Advani and Co. If so, the BJP’s hope of winning over large sections of the community as in 2014 and in Uttar Pradesh recently with the ‘sabka saath’ pitch is unlikely to work.

Cynics have said that ensnaring Advani and others in the 25-year-old case will enable Modi to oust from political contention those who had opposed his elevation before 2014. This view of the Prime Minister’s critics is substantiated in the latter’s opinion by Modi’s own exoneration from the 2002 Gujarat riots and Amit Shah’s from the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.

The events of 1992 and 2002 are the two black marks on the BJP’s rise to political prominence. While Atal Bihari Vajpayee believed that the 2002 riots led to the BJP’s defeat in 2004, it remains to be seen what effect the judicial indictment of Advani and his fellow “conspirators” in the “crime” which they committed in 1992 will have on the next general election.

IANS
By Amulya Ganguli
(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected] )

Politics

Financial experts of Modi government are completely fed up: Congress

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Randeep Singh Surjewala

New Delhi, June 20: Reacting to  Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian’s decision to quit his post, the Congress took a swipe at the Centre, saying financial experts of the government were completely fed up by its “colossal economic mismanagement”.

“Financial experts of Modi government are completely fed up by its colossal economic mismanagement, tepid economic reforms and financial anarchy. CEA Arvind Subramanian’s resignation, after the stepping down of Niti Aayog’s Arvind Panagriya and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, comes as no suprise,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.

Earlier in a day, Union Minister Arun Jaitley took Facebook to inform that Subramanian’s term would not be extended as he wants to go back to the US due to family commitments. Subramanian had joined as the CEA on October 16, 2014 for a period of three years.

Subramanian, a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, was appointed as India’s Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) in October 2014.

His term was for three years, which was to end on October 16, 2017. He had got an extension of one year in September last year.

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Modi government cheated farmers on MSP to gain votes: Congress

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Congress

New Delhi, June 20: The Congress on Wednesday hit out at the Modi government over a range of farmer-related issues including “defrauding” peasants by giving them a false promise of paying 50 per cent extra for their crop above the minimum mandated by the centre. 

Targeting government, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet, that it “sowed lies” which it “nurtured with rhetoric” only to “reap votes”.

Surjewala’s tweets were posted as an attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the day he interacted with farmers.

Modi interacted with select farmers across the country through “Narendra Modi App” during which he asked them about their success stories of increase in production and income.

The Congress accused the Centre of reducing expenditure on agriculture and allowing private firms to increase their profits through income from insurance premium and import from foreign countries.

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Swami Akhileshwaranand appeals for state cow ministry

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Bhopal, June 20: Following his elevation to the rank of a cabinet minister in the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government, Swami Akhileshwaranand on Wednesday requested Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to constitute a cow ministry in the state.

Akhileshwaranand was of the opinion that if there could be a cow secretariat in Rajasthan, a ministry for happiness in Madhya Pradesh, then a cow ministry should be formed in the state for the welfare of the state.

The newly appointed minister stated that the formation of the ministry will attract even more budget into the state and that he wanted the cow to be removed from the category of animal.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Akhileshwaranand said that he had previously spoken to Chief Minister Chouhan on this regard.

“He (the chief minister) told me that he will restore all the cow-houses, and there will be no shortage of funds, there just needs to be the willpower and commitment towards the cause. Now I am even more hopeful as he was made the chairman of National Agriculture and MGNREGA committee,” the minister said.

“The state gets 15000 Cr under the scheme. I asked them how much they spend, they told me they could hardly spend half of it. So I asked them why was there this lapse, you are a part of the Cow Protection Board, provide me with a budget of 1000 Cr, I have a strong willpower for my cause, they told me I was not making any unconstitutional demand, they will back me,” he added.

Last week, the MP government had elevated Akhileshwaranand, formerly the state’s Cow Protection Board chairperson, to the rank of a Cabinet minister.

Earlier he was granted Minister of State (MoS) rank.

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