Kashi, the Hindu and Hindutvatext_fields
"New history is being created. Sultanates rose and fell here. But Banaras survived. Dictators invaded the city. Tried to break it. History witnessed Aurangzeb's atrocities and terror. He tried to overthrow the culture with the sword. But if an Aurangzeb comes, a Shivaji will emerge here." So ran Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech while inaugurating the first phase of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor project which cost Rs 800 crores. After completing all the rituals and bathing in the Ganges, Modi inaugurated the corridor in the presence of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP President JP Nadda and hundreds of sanyasis from across the country. The inauguration even before the work is complete and the speech at the inauguration hint at one thing; Yogi Adityanath must win the UP Assembly elections early next year and ensure continued BJP rule under his leadership in the state. The balance sheet of five years of Hindutva rule are not conducive to that. There have only been setbacks in employment, health and development sectors. It is impossible for the Modi-Amit Shah duo to refurbish Yogi as a model ruler anymore. The Jat-Muslim conflict that helped Yogi to come to power last time is also non-existent this time. Moreover, the successful end of the year-and-a-half-long farmers' protests left behind a glaring picture of the pathetic defeat and setbacks of the central and state BJP regimes. This time there will be no opportunity to stir up Hindutva sentiments and buy votes by reminding people of the Ram temple to be built on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. The Supreme Court has allotted the land of Babri Masjid to Hindus and started the construction of a temple there at a cost of several crores. Hence, anti-Muslim and extreme Hindutva sentiments should be stirred up as much as possible to achieve the goal.
What about the opposition? Although the failures of Yogi Adityanath's rule can be listed one by one, the opposition has nothing to combat Hindutva sentiments. Therefore, the main rival Samajwadi Party's chief ministerial candidate Akhilesh Yadav is also allying with Hindutva. Akhilesh claims that he is entitled to be credited for the construction of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor as it was approved by his government. Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, another party in the election arena, has already travelled to Kashi with all sorts of religious overtones and rituals. What remains is the truly secular Congress. Rahul Gandhi's Jaipur speech is now viral in the media. "I am a Hindu but not a Hindutvavadi. Mahatma Gandhi was Hindu, and Godse was Hindutvavadi. A Hindu is one who is not afraid of anyone, embraces everyone and respects all religions. This is a country of Hindus and not Hindutvavadis. Since 2014, it's the Hindutvavadis who are in power, and not Hindus. Like how two living beings cannot have the same soul, two words cannot have the same meaning. We need to oust the Hindutvavadi and bring the rule of Hindus," Rahul said. Rahul's words vindicate the perception about the Congress's soft Hindutva stance against extreme Hindutva. Indira Gandhi's grandson was not able to declare that India is the right of all citizens, regardless of caste, creed, language or colour, as the Constitution of the country makes clear. This, however, is not due to a lack of intellect or because he is not secular either. The present situation has made him say the above lines. Even though the Left parties are using this opportunity to put Rahul Gandhi in the dock, don't the developments in Kerala not prove that they too are being forced to make big compromises and appeasement strategy for votes and power?
In the present context wherein the communal sentiment of religious nationalism transcends all boundaries, all secular forces and parties must unite, disregarding temporary gains, to uphold the fundamental principles of the Constitution. If they are unable to defeat the powers of hate and divisiveness, Yogi Adityanaths will rule not just UP but the entire nation.