WEB DESK: The extremist Hindu outfit Shiv Sena’s hatred for Pakistan being generational it is no big surprise that its activists upstaged PCB chief Shaharyar Khan’s meeting with his Indian counterpart in Mumbai on Monday.
But what surprises one is this sudden spurt in its anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim offensive. Last week, its activists threw black ink on the face of ORF head Sudheerdra Kulkarni for hosting Khursheed Mahmud Kasuri’s book-launch in Mumbai; having forced cancellation of music concert of Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali in the same city a week before. But this past Monday seemed to be the culmination of Shiv Sena’s anti-Muslim hate campaign.
Not only have the Hindu fanatics in New Delhi express their hatred for Muslims by throwing ink on Kashmiri MLA Engineer Rashid who had earned their animosity for hosting a beef-kebab dinner in Srinagar following the Eid day; they also murdered a Muslim truck driver in the Occupied Kashmir accusing him of slaughtering cows and elsewhere harassed, and made to apologise an Australian tourist for a tattoo portraying some Hindu goddess on his body.
Shiv Sena is the ruling BJP’s coalition partner both in Maharashtra and at the Centre. Is it that Shiv Sena’s anti-Muslim campaign has the blessing of the BJP, or is that it is engaged in a turf war with its senior partner? Prima facie, in mistreating Muslim and other minorities both the parties are on the same page – with BJP and Shiv Sena as its coalition partner, drinking deep from the well-springs of BJP’s parent body, Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh (RSS) that is committed to ushering in a 100 percent Hindu India. But for their commitment to obtain this total Hindutva they would not have been in power in Hindu majority India.
Of late, however, that common cause has come under a severe test – the Shiv Sena accuses Prime Minister Modi of ‘diluting’ the cause of Hindutva by being miserly in its support for the Senaks’ anti-Muslim activities. Though Narendra Modi doesn’t show to be agreeing to this perception, but he doesn’t seem to be greatly upset over it either. Seemingly, the Shiv Sena was critical as an ally, as a ladder to the top slot, but once there, Modi’s prime concern is his international image befitting India’s claim as the largest democracy with undeniable secular credentials.
For him all of it is a win-win situation – while at home his election pledge to obtain Hindutva is materialising out of India his disconnect with Shiv Sena would help sell his image as a pragmatic nation-builder. But what both the Shiv Sena and BJP leaderships don’t realise is that by trivialising the stakes of non-Hindu minorities in a unified India they tend to expose the fault lines that exist in their country’s demographic character. Today’s India is inhabited by scores of racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, with a propensity to explode and splinter up into many segments.
Given the ironclad caste system, its main Hindu group has its own socio-cultural unredeemable divisions. No less than 30 percent of India’s population is non-Hindu, and that makes them more than the hard-line cow-worshippers. But the RSS, the mother of all extremist Hindu entities including Modi’s BJP, wants India to be all-Hindu within the next decade or so, whatever it takes. If ‘whatever it takes’ is going to be what Shiv Sena occasionally puts on display in Mumbai, and now elsewhere in India also, then there would be resistance along the fault lines that already exist in India.
At stake is not Pakistani cricketers’ wish to play in India, nor is there Ghulam Ali’s desire to sing in Mumbai; it is India’s image that is being soiled and its cohesiveness and integration that is being tested. India is being hijacked by extremist fringes, which were always there, but with the BJP in power they have come to occupy centre stage and feel free to translate their extremist agendas into a concrete action. There can be no denying of reality that India too has its Hindu brand of terrorists, which are a threat not only to the Indians but also to others in the region and abroad.
But for the fact that the Indian establishment is in cahoots with them and in agreement with their agendas, scores of Indian intellectuals would not have been provoked into returning their state awards.