Orissa is presently burning but it is not getting adequate media attention, because floods in Bihar and the latest developments on the nuclear deal have been hogging the limelight. Violence, triggered by the killing of Swami Laxmananada by the Maoists, has spread in the State. For the VHP, the Maoists are innocent and the Christians are the real culprits. According to VHP’s rationale, the killing of the Swami had to do with his mission of re-conversion of Hindus and the Christians therefore had a valid reason to eliminate the Swami.
The VHP has totally rejected the claim of the Maoists that they killed the Swami. The Maoist menace in Orissa is not something new; many such killings have been attributed to their organization. If Maoists are staking the claim for killing Laxmananda, then there is no point in rejecting the said claim. There was a sinister plan underlying the VHP’s rejection of the said claim by the Maoists. The plan envisaged blaming the killing on the Christians. VHP tactfully exploited the killing of its mentor to attack the Christians in Orissa. This casts serious doubts on the intention and modus operandi of the VHP. The self-proclaimed representative of Hindu religion always uses dead bodies to kill numerous innocent people. In Jhajhhar, they killed Dalits for a dead cow; in Gujarat, they triggered a communal carnage after the unfortunate Godhara incident; presently they have resorted to killings in Orissa, after a death took place.
Communal politics triggered by dead bodies is not a coincidence; it needs a serious analysis. At present Orissa, which boasts of a two percent Christian population, is becoming a second Gujarat. This is alarming for those who sincerely believe in Indian secularism and want to protect the country’s secular fabric. In any debate on Indian secularism and VHP, the role of the Congress is significant. Congress is responsible for the growth of VHP because it adopted a soft approach towards it. There are thousands of reasons to ban VHP, as there are for SIMI. India does not need organizations like SIMI and VHP which spread hatred in the name of religion.
Moreover, VHP presently is a national threat. A couple of weeks back, its activists were arrested in Kanpur city of Uttar Pradesh for making bombs. They were planning serial bomb blasts. In Nanded in Maharashtra, VHP and its other wings were caught red-handed, while making bombs for carrying out blasts in many areas. It is easy to guess what prevents the UPA government from banning the VHP. Soft attitude towards a communal organization will never help parties like the Congress, which swears by secularism.
Let me end this article by recalling my simple encounter with some NSUI (National Student’s Union of India) activists. NSUI is a student wing of the Congress and recently it mobilized activists from all over India for the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) election. In one of the colleges of Delhi University, I met three NSUI activists. They had come from Madhya Pradesh to campaign for NSUI candidates. I talked to them individually; all the three said they had come to Delhi since it would add to their political profile, back home in Madhya Pradesh; two of them would vote for the BJP; one was upset with reservation for the OBC. These two were completely ignorant of NSUI’s ideology, objectives and aims. The third was somewhat well-informed and said the Congress stood for secularism and it appealed to him; but the next sentence shocked me. According to him, Uma Bharti did not fulfil her promise of constructing a temple in Bhojsala (a very controversial place) and this had led him to the Congress. Constructing a temple at Bhojsala was important for him even at the cost of riots. This was how he had understood secularism. NSUI activists did not know what Congress was; on the other hand, RSS had succeeded in penetrating even the Congress.
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