Vikas Saraswat
Saffron Hate
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

As if the brute force deployed to crush the p0or pious protesters at Ramlila maidan wasn’t enough, the unremitting abuse and threatening language deployed Congress leaders continues to add insult to injury. At the outset the intemperate outburst directed towards crusaders against corruption, whom Congress perceived to be plotters out to destabilize their government, appeared spontaneous, but a closer observation revealed a distinct method to the Congress madness.

Congress, rattled by the Anna Hazare fast, tried to brazen it out initially but relented in the end; agreeing to the formation of a joint drafting committee on Lokpal. True to the Congress style, subterfuge was employed through its dirty tricks departments to sow seeds of discord among members of civil society. Fake CDs surfaced to discredit the Bhushans. Retainers in media were pressed into service; panegyrising the rights of elected representatives alone to legislate and warning, at the same time, about perils of civil society kind of adventures. The UPA government was indeed vexatious towards Hazare and team but ready at least to engage, howsoever grudgingly.

These concessions, however, were not to be extended to Baba Ramdev. The saffron of Baba was a blight the secular government wasn’t going to bear. Abuse was turned into argument and brutality the sole response. The ad hominems RSS, BJP and saffron were intrinsic enough justifications to stall all debate on issues that warranted Baba’s fast in the first place and the popular support there for.

It was calibrated difference in two responses that betrayed the method to Congress’ madness. The message was loud and clear. Congress under the Gandhis had a divine right to rule India; pedantic disagreements were agreeable so long as they came from the right kind of people. Saffron right, at least, had forfeited its rights to protest even on secular issues and that unlike others, it would be dealt with ruthlessly.

Not surprisingly, the viciousness of Congress vitriol was echoed in the studios and offices of establishment media. An orchestrated attack was launched on Baba. Script of the charade was such in unison that it was difficult to believe news anchors weren’t reading handouts from ruling party office. While the thrust of the offensive was to character assassinate Baba Ramdev, a few eminences made public their general contempt for Sadhus and Babas. Vinod Mehta was quick to announce his annoyance with Swamis and Babas. Pankaj Pachauri dug up an unrelated quote from Gandhiji to pronounce the uselessness of Sadhus as an unproductive lot. Several others mocked the Sadhus preaching them to stick to temporal affairs, an advice they would dare not offer to Muftis and Maulanas issuing Fatwas on where to vote or to the likes of John Dayal bellowing hideous political agenda at every opportunity.

Events of the past fortnight prove that despotism is part of Congress DNA and that concentration of Power in the hands of one family for a long period has only made the matters worse. That this despotism comes wearing the garb of a democracy doesn’t offer a consolation. Like all despotic regimes it has a cabal of beneficiaries running around and singing paeans to it and like all despotic regimes it has its pet hates. From the personal manhandling of Karpatri Maharaj by the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and the killing in Police firing of Sadhus demanding ban on cow slaughter, right outside the Parliament, to the midnight barbarity of  June 5, Congress has displayed time and again its deep loathing for saffron right. The only changing character of this, over the years, is the subtle shift in grounds for this hate. From minority appeasing Nehruvian secularism of nominal Hindus, it has become rooted in theological and ideological prejudices of minority rulers and spirited anti Hindus.

Baba Ramdev’s fast at Ramlila Maidan had no charter of religious demands; it could not be labelled parochial or divisionary. In fact, every time Hindu organisations agitated on religious issues, the ‘seculars’ would lampoon them for their inability to think in wider national terms. Black money and corruption, the issues raised by Baba, were as secular and non sectarian as they could be. But the government which has no qualms in engaging with secessionists and anti nationals chose to teach the peaceful gathering of humble men and women a severe lesson.

Whether or what political price Congress will pay for its insolence is in the realm of future, the contemptuous denial of fundamental right to protest to a section of society for its religious character has exposed the perversity manifesting the ‘liberalism’ and ‘secularism’ of Indian politics.