New Delhi, Aug. 19: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has opened a window of opportunity for the BJP to strike an alliance with the AIADMK.
A special report in the latest edition of the Sangh’s English weekly Organiser (August 26) has singled out for praise AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa’s announcement that the Tamil Nadu government would subsidise travel for Hindu pilgrims to Mansarovar (Tibet) and Muktinath (Nepal).
The Tamil Nadu chief minister had recently said in the Assembly that her government would pick up Rs 40,000 of the projected expense of Rs 1 lakh incurred by Mansarovar pilgrims and Rs 10,000 of the Rs 25,000 spent by those travelling to Muktinath.
The report’s author, V. Shanmuganathan, virtually hailed the subsidy for the state’s Hindus as a secular move. “This sponsorship is definitely a clear positive step deviated (sic) from the communal angle taken by (former chief minister M.) Karunanidhi. Previous DMK regime had a history of negative propaganda against Hinduism,” he said.
Shanmuganathan ran down the DMK — that was born out of the Dravida Kazhagam movement spearheaded by E.V. Ramasami Naicker or “Periyar”— for vilifying Hindu deities and destroying idols. He noted that Jayalalithaa’s sops to the pilgrims coincided with the DMK’s agenda of celebrating the Dravida movement’s centenary this year. “Ultimately the soul of this nation wins and establishes its wonderful effect,” he claimed.
Religion apart, the RSS weekly also lauded Jayalalithaa for redeeming her poll promises of free laptops for school students and undergraduates and for launching a comprehensive health scheme to cover over one crore families.
The Sangh has had a soft spot for Jayalalithaa, a Tamil-speaking Iyengar from Mysore, because of its perception that Tamil Nadu’s minuscule Brahmin population had a place on her political radar after decades of being relegated to the margins by the DK and the DMK.
The sense in Tamil Nadu is that while Jayalalithaa has never done anything substantive for Brahmins, say, in terms of “redressing” supposed imbalances set off in education and government employment by reservations, she has resorted to symbolism to “restore” a feeling of confidence in the community.
Her frequent visits and unpublicised donations to temples, celebration of festivals traditionally observed by the upper castes and the Sanskritised Tamil she speaks, in contrast to the classical Tamil propagated and used by the DMK, have made Jayalalithaa and the AIADMK the “natural choice” for the one per cent Brahmins.
Although the RSS has accepted the growing political supremacy of the backward castes and Dalits as a fait accompli presented by India’s demographics, in precept and practice it holds the “varna” caste hierarchy at the core of its faith.
The BJP has had alliances with the DMK and the AIADMK in the past. During the BJP’s DMK phase, Sangh sources said they had “swallowed” the pact with Karunanidhi to put a government in place just as Shiva had drunk poison from the churning of the oceans to imbibe a mouthful of “amrut”, the nectar of immortality.
When it was Jayalalithaa’s turn to consort with the BJP, Sangh leaders were all smiles, notwithstanding the fact that she turned out to be Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s biggest tormentor.