The grand design of Hindutva rhetoric

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Wordplay Narendra Modi has been shrewd while speaking on intolerance. Photo: Pramod Adhikari

Despite dissent brewing from various quarters, a majoritarian narrative is taking hold over the country’s political landscape. A common theme is beginning to emerge in the public discourse of leaders of the ruling dispensation, the rss and other right wing affiliates.

The new narrative has a few commonalities: The incidents — whether it is the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq, the burning of Dalit children in Faridabad or attacks on rationalists — are not worthy enough to be condemned. The dissenters, who put the spotlight on such happenings, are biased against the majority and do not pay heed when Hindus themselves are victims.

The majority, according to the narrative, has been under attack for decades and their interests need to be protected — be it their food habits or rituals. Those who want to live peacefully in the land have to respect the sentiments of the majority.

Take, for instance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments in the backdrop of the murders, lynchings and arson. On 28 September, the lynching of 52-year-old Akhlaq raised a nationwide uproar. The cries were for a strong condemnation of the incident especially from the ‘strong’ prime minister himself.

What followed was 10 days of deafening silence. Then, in an interview, he said, “Dadri and Ghulam Ali incidents are sad.” This happened after President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his apprehension about the politics of intolerance choking the country.

Modi again referred to the incidents at an election rally in Bihar’s Nawada. “Some politicians are making irresponsible statements for political interests. Such statements should end. Do not pay attention to such statements,” he said. Initially, the media described it as a condemnation of the Dadri incident.

However, on the same day, at Begusarai in Bihar, Modi responded to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s statement that Hindus also eat beef saying, “You [Lalu] come out with such statements on what they [Yadavs] eat. I am ashamed to even talk about this. Please do not insult my people; I come from Krishna’s Dwarka.” In one fell swoop, he managed to insert the politics of beef in to the electoral landscape of Bihar, a statement which can very well be described as an “irresponsible statement for political gain” in itself.

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