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Tharoor, Hegde and the Constitution

Union minister of state Anantkumar Hegde’s remarks that “BJP had come to power to change the Constitution” and that it would “do so in the near future” made Shashi Tharoor quote RSS ideologues and their supposed hostility to the Indian Constitution. Shekhar Gupta, on whose website the article appeared yesterday, tweeted that ‘the cat is out of the bag.” These two oily characters, both literally and figuratively, have often been annoying with their selective truths.

Tharoor threshes out quotes from the works of former RSS supremo M.S. Golwalkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyay, to show their disapproval of Indian Constitution. The insinuation is that our holy grail, the Indian Constitution, is not safe under the present dispensation of BJP and its fountainhead, RSS.

Only if Tharoor could explain to us why in their decade-long years in government (1998-2004 and 2014 onwards), BJP has made no amendment whatsoever on the religious statutes of the Constitution? Surely, if this is their hidden agenda, they would’ve made a move to change the status-quo.

If Tharoor could explain to us why a political party with the so-called “Hindutva” agenda is seen as a pro-Capitalist party, swearing by “development” and being no activist, unfortunately, on the issues of cultural heritage? Or why all the BJP election manifestos since 1980 have asserted the right of legal equality regardless of religion? Perhaps Mr. Tharoor could answer why the introduction of a Uniform Civil Code would be such a bad thing to do, considering secularism should in essence mean equality under law?

While considering the Constitution as sacrosanct, maybe Mr. Tharoor should also explain why amendment in Article 30 is not desirable which allows minorities to set up schools, have religion-centric curriculum and get Government funds to boot while denying the same to Hindu majority? Or for that matter Article 25 which allows “propagation” of one’s religion, knowing fully well that Hinduism doesn’t have a tradition of proselytization while Islam and Christianity do. As Dr. Koenraad Elst says: “It’s like giving wolves and sheep the equal liberty to eat each other”. (Dr Koenraad Elst, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, Page 230)

I wonder if Mr. Tharoor can explain why Article 370 must not be amended which doesn’t allow non-Kashmiri Indians from acquiring property and citizenship in Jammu and Kashmir state? Why such a measure, conceived and executed with the understanding that it was only temporary, be allowed to continue to damage the fabric of one nation? Or if the constitution is the paramount beacon of equality, why under Article 26 Hindus do not have the fundamental right to maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes, as interpreted by the Supreme Court (Shri Adi Vishveshvara of the Kashi Vishvanath temple vs Uttar Pradesh case, Dr Koenraad Elst, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, Page 241). Why Christians and Muslims can manage their own place of worship but the Hindus’ religious institutions have been taken-over by the state governments?

What about the discrimination against Hindus while Minorities Finance Corporation are functional in almost all the states of India? Or the 1992 Minorities Commission Act in a nation which is avowedly secular? Or the Hindu Code Bill while personal laws of a minority can’t be amended without their approval or initiative? Why religion-based personal laws which continue to flout the Article 44 of the Constitution which is for Uniform Civil Code?

In passing, let me also throw a Golwalkar quote to sober up Tharoor on his hysteria: “Let the Muslims evolve their own laws. I will be happy when they arrive at the conclusion that polygamy is not good for them, but I would not like to force my views on them,” said Golwalkar (Andersen and Damle: Brotherhood in Saffron, Page 83)

It is surprising, that critics like Tharoor can only go back to Gowalkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyay, every time they wish to critique the current dispensation. It is indeed amusing that he can’t find any other stick to beat the BJP and RSS with. And since they can’t, shouldn’t they for a moment concede that the current government concerns itself with ‘sabka saath sabka vikaas’, sometimes, much to the anguish of some of his own supporters?

Tharoor won’t tell that Golwalkar was a spiritual leader—who almost became a Shankaracharya—and was completely anti-political. Golwalkar never warmed up to Hindu Mahasabha’s political goals. As for Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Tharoor would’ve done well to point out the merit of former’s “Integral Humanism” which is BJP’s core philosophy.

Wish Tharoor someday would write and Gupta would publish the former’s views on 42nd Amendment which inserted the word “secular” in the Constitution when all the opposition was in jail and it’s clearance in Parliament was no better than a joke on democracy.

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