What is Prime Minister’s New Year wish?
Sri Narendra Modiji may be praying that Christmas Peace will end the Conversion hurricane, engineered by his militant comrades. The last thing he wants is the global press accompanying President Obama talking about communal riots. That will wash away the party, planned to increase Direct Foreign Investment in developing India.
For days, the Parliament kept demanding that the Prime Minister must come to the House to clarify his Government’s position on the Hindu drive to convert Muslims and Christians. He refrained from even attempting to steer the nation’s emotions.
Thanks to his silence, the militant (e.g. Ashok Sinhgal) and opportunistic (e.g. Subramanian Swami) members of his Hindu base handed the stick to the Opposition to beat him up.
Modiji wants to be focused on economic development. Investors want socio-political stability. So, why is his militant base disrupting social harmony? Militant Hindus believe that missionaries exploit poverty to lure poor Hindus into other faiths. If so, isn’t Modi strategy right? Remove poverty – no one will fall prey to allurement?
Sri Ashok Singhal, World Hindu Federation’s (VHP’s) senior-most leader argues that it has taken 800 years (since Mohammad Gori defeated Prithviraj Chouhan in 1192) for ‘real’ Hindus to recapture Delhi’s throne. Therefore, Hindus must undo the damage Muslim, Christian, and secular rulers did. Hindu rulers must emulate non-Hindu predecessors and use political power to patronize proselytization.
The militant Hindu group RSS’ Chief, Sri Mohan Bhagwat, expressed this bluntly: converts to Christianity and Islam, he said, are Hindu’s stolen property. Now that Hindus have power, we have the right to snatch back what is ours.
The RSS Chief is a highly intelligent person:
- Why does he then think that an evil missionary stole my soul, therefore, Hindutva’s political power can reconvert me?
- As a nationalist and Prime Minister’s supporter, why would Sri Bhagwat risk derailing Modiji’s development agenda?
Socio-Political Power and Conversion
Long time ago I went on a school hike along a dry, seasonal, mountainous river. There were stones everywhere. Someone had taken one, painted it saffron and put it up under a tree. The stone had been garlanded. Some had burnt incense sticks. So, one of my classmates bowed down to worship it. Surprised, I asked: “is that stone god?”
The school boy replied without blinking an eyelid: “Mano to bhagwan hai: na mano to patthar hai” (It is god if you believe, it is a stone if you disbelieve).He meant ‘truth’ is irrelevant; Hinduism is built not on theology, but on mythology. Faith is socially accepted myths. If a Buddha, Kabir, Dayanand, Phule, or an Ambedkar rejects myths and wants truth – then religious myth has no option but to rely on force. Myth can’t reason in order to persuade someone to worship a stone because it actually is god.
Tolerance was institutionalized as public policy to free people to seek truth. The winning arguments were grounded in the Bible and illustrated from pagan classics. These included John Milton’s Areopagitica, Westminster Confession’s doctrine of Conscience and John Locke’s theology of the cross and the Apostles’ evangelism. Christianity institutionalized tolerance so that people may seek truth. Myth must be coerced.
For seventy years Christianity has had no political power in India; Yet, the Hindutva leadership is upset because Indians are accepting Jesus in significant numbers. This is happening because every single day hundreds of thousands of Indian Christians take up their cross – bear abuse and risk their lives and families – to share the Gospel Truth. Hindutva wants to counter this self-sacrificing service with the help of political power to promote myths.
Why Would a Responsible Hindu Nationalist Risk Derailing Modi’s Agenda?
I don’t know what is going on in Sri Bhagwat’s mind. Therefore, I can only guess his motives. My charitable guess is that by supporting pro-conversion Hindus publicly he earns the right to advise them privately to shut up and let Modiji stay focused on the economic agenda.
My other guess is more sobering. For months my Christian friends have expressed apprehensions about persecution in Modiraj. I have disagreed with them. To me Modiji seems sincere about giving good governance to India. In order to do that his first priority is to fight corrupt bureaucracy. But Collectors and Police Officers can rarely take bribes without political patronage. Therefore, Modiji’s second priority has to be to fight the BJP. Controlling bureaucracy and his party’s MPs and MLAs is relatively easy. His real headache is to control the RSS and related groups.
The BJP netas (petty politicians) who failed to win a seat in Parliament or State Assemblies will be tempted to use the RSS to collect “donations” from individuals and businesses to clear their files through bureaucratic and political labyrinth. Good governance will require Modi ji to ask his MPs and officers to pay no attention to the RSS related netas. That is just the beginning of a conflict; Modiji’s headache is deeper.
The RSS is the only force that can pull the rug from under Modiji’s feet. Therefore, disgruntled BJP Ministers, MPs and bureaucrats will rally behind the RSS to weaken the Prime Minister. To put it bluntly (and hopefully wrongly), my guess is that the conversion tsunami has already ushered in Mr. Narendra Modi’s ‘Stalin Moment.’
Post-Lenin, Stalin was not the Communist Party’s only leader. Several comrades thought of themselves as better qualified.
- Subramaniam Swamy, former professor of Economics at Harvard (and my former friend) was considered as potential Finance Minister but he was discarded.
- Narendra Modi was ‘another RSS Pracharak’ while Sri Mohan Bhagwat is the Sar Sangh Chalak. Why should a Pracharak be the PM? Why shouldn’t the Sangh itself govern the nation?
At least – why shouldn’t the Chief be the new Sonia Gandhi and guide the new Manmohan Singh? I don’t know if Bhagwatji wants Sonia’s role, I am simply contextualizing what I call the Stalin Moment.
Mr. Modi has bulldozed the bureaucracy and the party. Now, like Stalin, he has to decide now whether he will run the country or be run by his comrades.
It is understandable that Modi’s Hindu constituency wants to use his political power to pressurize Christians and Muslims to convert. To fulfill their objecrtive, Modiji’s comrades are using his activists to clip his wings. That’s why, like Stalin, Modiji has to decide whether to give in to his brothers’ rivalry or replace Bhagwat and Singhal with loyal soldiers like Amit Shahs.
Either the RSS will control Modiji or he will have to control the RSS related groups. This choice will not be easy. For it will require transferring RSS’ leadership to his trusted followers. Such a step will divide the family and will have unforeseen consequences.
Adopting Stalin’s methods will change India. Nevertheless, one or the other course will have to be chosen, and the choice will determine Modiji’s legacy.
author, “India: The Grand Experiment”
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