The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh sees nationalism, not fear, in sweep

New Delhi, Dec. 16: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has dismissed the Congress charge that “fear and terror” were behind the BJP’s thumping victory in Gujarat.

The Sangh rejected the analysis that there was Hindu-Muslim polarisation and said the sweeping mandate for Narendra Modi was a “victory of Hindutva-delineated nationalism over Hindu-bashing secularism”.

“To say that the victory of the BJP in Gujarat is due to fear and terror is nonsense,” RSS spokesman M.G. Vaidya told reporters today. “The suggestion is that the Muslims were frightened. If so, how could they come out in large numbers — their percentage was reported to be 80 per cent to 90 per cent — to cast their votes'”

According to Vaidya, if at all there was “polarisation”, it was between “one pole of nationalist forces, delineated by the ideology of Hindutva”, and the “other pole of Hindu-bashing perverse secularism”.

The spokesman said Hindutva represented “appreciation of plurality, democratic values, justice for all and appeasement of none”, and its antithesis was nurtured on “pampering the fissiparous attitudes of the religious minorities. So much so that even blatantly communal demands are justified and paraded as in tune with secularism.”

Vaidya distanced himself from Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia’s call for a Hindu rashtra (nation). “Hindu rashtra cannot be built like that, in two or three years. We have a state, which is a legal association and a political arrangement, but it is not based on religion. People are the rashtra and, in that sense, we always had a Hindu rashtra,” he said.

Vaidya’s arguments were used by the BJP, though in a different language. It was apparent that the party was trying to play down the communal theme after the results conclusively established the BJP’s gains in riot-hit areas — which used to be Congress strongholds — and the point stressed in the analyses on television. Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said the new government will not only have to wipe out terrorism, the election’s central plank, but also provide good governance.

Yesterday, he had attacked the media at a press conference and said some journalists should sport black badges.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a painting exhibition by Gujarati artist Mohsin Shaikh on the December 13 attack on Parliament last year, Advani drew a parallel with Indira Gandhi’s “garibi hatao” slogan to counter the Opposition’s “Indira hatao” call. “While the greatest crisis before the nation is terrorism, the Opposition in the recent polls had the one-point agenda of Modi hatao,” he said. The subtext was, rather than being a communally polarised election, it was one between Modi and the rest.

BJP spokesman V.K. Malhotra said that not only did his party get the Hindu votes but also that of the Sikhs and Christians. “There is no need for any section to feel worried by this victory because development and security will be our slogan and it will be security for all citizens, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs,” he stressed.

In an orchestrated response, the BJP and the RSS blamed the Congress for “generating and sustaining the fear complex in the Muslim community”. Vaidya alleged that the Congress reaped the entire Muslim vote by getting clerics to issue a “fatwa” (edict) in its favour.

“This was evident from the Congress managers’ attempt to downplay it by saying that it was not a fatwa, it was an appeal. The justification ought to have come from the Muslim clerics and not the Congress’ spokespersons. However, this is in conformity with the Congress brand of secularism,” he said.

Malhotra urged his “Muslim friends” to come out of the “web of deceit” spun around them by the Congress and join the “mainstream” by not voting along religious lines.

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