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Last Word: Bharat Mata Ki Jai

The journey from ‘Mandir Wahi Banayenge’ to ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is a deceptive one. Actually there is no journey. We are at the same point where we were 24 years ago. Only the slogans on the billboards have changed.

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The campaign over the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogan has become contentious and dangerously divisive and could result in a communal conflagration anytime, anywhere. A single violent confrontation somewhere can set TV screens on fire in the hands of Newshour anchors, opening wounds that we thought were healing. It appears that both Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, and MIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi are either unaware of the fuse they have ignited, or they are consciously polarising society on the eve of elections.

As a result, the spectre of communal holocaust has begun to haunt India again. I have seen in the past the deep divide among Hindus and Muslims, and the atmosphere of violence, suspicion and schizophrenic hatred. It was after the Rath Yatra led by L.K. Advani was stopped at Samastipur by Lalu Prasad Yadav in October 1990. ‘Mandir Wahi Banayenge’ and ‘Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain’ were the slogans that reverberated from Mumbai-Pune to Delhi and beyond.

For the next two years, until 6 December 1992, the country was in the throes of communal tension and violence. Even Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in May 1991, and the partial victory of the Congress and Narasimha Rao becoming prime minister did not fundamentally alter the communal canvas.

The journey from ‘Mandir Wahi Banayenge’ to ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is a deceptive one. Actually there is no journey. We are at the same point where we were 24 years ago. Only the slogans on the billboards have changed.

For some time, there was ‘love jihad’ which led to heated debates in the media. Then there was ‘Ghar Wapsi’, which created such a buzz that when some authors returned their awards, the term was appropriated by the media and dubbed ‘Award Wapsi’.

Meanwhile, the idea of ‘Nathuram Temples’ has been spread in UP, with a section of the Sangh Parivar publicly calling Gandhiji’s murder as achieving only half ‘the patriotic goal’. The other half should have been Nehru’s assassination, they say, which would have kept India free from dynasty rule. And now we have reached the stage in the campaign which dubs all critics of Narendra Modi as “anti-national” and exhorts them “to go to Pakistan”.

Then Ishrat Jahan case too has been exhumed to serve the cause of Modi; and a notorious drug trafficker and triple agent of the CIA-FBI-ISI, David Coleman Headley, is paraded to certify that Ishrat was a ‘suicide bomber’. Some news anchors with the help of self-styled analysts have also “proved” how she had come to Gujarat to kill Modi way back in 2004.

Then came Rohit followed by Kanhaiya and Smriti Irani’s firing squad. Even before the truth came out as to who doctored the “taped evidence” of the sloganeering on the JNU campus came exhortations from Mohan Bhagwat that ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is a slogan that every patriot must chant.

Headley has inflamed the already heated atmosphere by saying now that there was a plot to kill Balasaheb Thackeray. He knows the storyline. The script is ready, the actors are in place, the stage is set, and anchor persons are well positioned with loud and irresponsible panellists. And the nation waits with bated breath and vulnerable necks for the communal sword to descend.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Kumar Ketkar

The author is Chief Editor of Dainik Divya Marathi as well as former editor in chief of Marathi newspaper Loksatta

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