The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Realpolitik between Ram and bhakt

Calcutta, Dec. 8: Dipankar Basu, B.Sc, M.D. (Alternative Medicine), lives in the past. For the last 10 years, he has been doing so, trying to re-live what he did at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.

But, as he (his name has been changed on request) has already discovered, it is difficult. A BJP-led coalition — cobbled together with parties that do not share the Sangh parivar’s enthusiasm for what happened at Ayodhya a decade back — has not exactly helped his cause. Ram rajya (or janmabhoomi) door asth, as they would say in Ayodhya.

For Basu, the genial ayurvedic practitioner from a nondescript village in one of the state’s southernmost districts, the distance traversed — to another nondescript cowbelt town in Uttar Pradesh, suddenly pitchforked into the centrestage of national politics — has been quite long. But he is willing to walk a few more miles if the situation demands. There is “the unfinished agenda”, he explains.

Basu’s agenda appeared to be taking a concrete shape at Ayodhya on December 6 a decade back when he and his co-religionists succeeded in demolishing a concrete structure there. The soft-spoken Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak (akin to the CPM whole-timer) was not just another face among the 300,000-strong crowd that had gathered to “change the course of the history of Hindu dharma”. He was, instead, the pranta pramukh (regional chief) of the 7,000-strong team from Bengal that had gathered there and it was he who was marshalling them into an orderly queue, telling them that they must uphold the values they had imbibed from the RSS.

But, as Basu now realises, finishing the agenda is much more difficult than beginning it. The disciplined RSS foot-soldier — “I am no leader,” he says modestly — understands that the exigencies of realpolitik demand that the BJP push its “original agenda” under the carpet.

This, however, has not stopped Basu — and his co-pracharaks — from being a trifle “disappointed” with the party that, along with the RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, makes up the Sangh parivar’s trident. “We understand the political compulsions of the BJP that has to stay in power with the help of ‘secular’ allies, be it the Telugu Desam or the Trinamul Congress or the National Conference,” Basu said. “But we must also remember that the Hindu samaj will ask us what is stopping us from finishing what we started out to do, especially when we have ‘our’ government in power at the Centre.”

“We could explain the failure of the kar seva in 1990 (then, too, Basu was the pranta pramukh of the small Bengal contingent) with the excuse that the government in Uttar Pradesh then was not our political arm,” he said. “Things were much easier with the Kalyan Singh-led BJP government in Lucknow in 1992.” He added that the same logic could be extended by Hindus now to take the Sangh to task.

Basu, therefore, has to be content with re-living what happened on December 10 years ago. “Right from the time I set foot on Ayodhya soil in November, 1992, (the leaders arrived there much earlier to chalk out the plans), I knew that we were going to make history,” he said. From the elaborate arrangements made by “our government” to the wide passage to the disputed structure (in 1990, it was a narrow lane), Ayodhya was breathing history-in-the-making.

Basu brought along a piece of that history: two (4 inch x 2 inch x 1 inch) bricks from the pulled-down structure. But, just like his extended family’s losing its way in the jungle of bricks and polemics, Basu, too, has lost the two pieces of history.

“Some over-zealous Hindu must have taken it,” he said, adding that he did not bear the filcher any grudge. For, no one would be able to filch what he really values, he explained: “My Rambhakti (my devotion to Ram).”

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