“Hindu Pakistan,” Shashi Tharoor quips. Even before the controversy over that one subsides, he follows it up with cries of “Hindu Taliban.”
Let’s leave aside for the moment the politics behind Tharoor’s newly ‘Janeudhari’ Party disavowing his comments. Expressions such as “Hindu Taliban” and “Hindu Pakistan” had been doing the rounds among ‘secular’ voices on social media long before Tharoor used them. Instead, I want to point out just how astonishingly self-defeating those insults are.
So they want to speak ill of the Hindu right. And they do so by speaking of “Hindu Pakistan”?
So Pakistan is a bad thing, eh? You mean, several million Muslims split from their fellow Indians, founded an independent nation at the same exact time as we did and it didn’t go well? You mean the place became such a cesspool of violence and terrorism that Pakistan’s name is to be used today as an insult in itself? How come? Whatever happened to Islam being a religion of peace?
Much the same can be said for the term “Hindu Taliban.” Where’s the peace?
Now, every political party uses exaggeration and rhetoric to discredit its opponents. But why are opponents of the Hindu right having to borrow names of violent Islamist and Leftist organizations to coin insults against the RSS/BJP?
Why the need to talk about “Hindu Taliban” at all? Is it because they are failing to find something in the millennia-old history of Indian Hindus that can serve as a metaphor for absolute evil?
Here’s another pejorative they use: “India’s North Korean channels.” The expression is used on social media to mock certain news channels that are accused of having a pro-Modi editorial stance.
Okay, but why “North Korean channel”? I know, because North Korea has a Communist government, because of which the media there is only ever allowed to talk about how great the ruling Communists are!
So basically the left is accusing the Hindu right of forcing sections of media to become as bad as leftist media under leftist regimes?
As I said earlier, that is astonishingly self-defeating coming from opponents of the Hindu right. And hilarious to boot.
I thought the Mahagathbandhan of Leftists and Islamists was trying to put the focus on alleged excesses of the Hindu right with their name calling. Instead, all I can see is them drawing attention to their own crimes.
There’s more. What term do Modi’s detractors use when they accuse him of stifling free expression of artists, journalists, writers, students and filmmakers?
You guessed it! They call it “undeclared Emergency.”
They did it again!
The problem that Modi’s detractors are facing is obvious. Whether they dig into history or into current affairs, everything that they could use as a metaphor for evil just so happens to have been perpetrated by their allies the Islamists, their allies the Leftists or self-proclaimed Bharat Ratna Indira Gandhi.
And that is why the imagination of liberals is failing them when it comes to coining insults against the Hindu right. Even that of the aristocratic Tharoor, with the entire farrago of the last five hundred years of the English language at his disposal. No matter how much they try, their insults end up looking like this:
<Qualifier> + <Something bad that Congress, Leftists or Islamists did>
The Hindu right, on the other hand, faces no such problem in designing its own rhetoric. Consider the term “Urban Naxal” that the Hindu right has begun using recently to attack its opponents. The metaphor for evil used here is that of “Naxals,” i.e., violent leftists who have murdered hundreds of innocent people.
So, what’s left of the insults that enemies of the Hindu right like to use? There’s always “Fascist.” From JNU professors to Congressi intellectuals, they love to refer to the RSS as ‘fascist.’ Ah! The word fascism comes from the Italian word ‘fascio,’ meaning a ‘bundle of sticks.’ It became an established political philosophy under Mussolini, who was endorsed by the Pope himself in return for giving the Catholic Church authority over Vatican City and a big wad of cash. There is enough in those last two sentences to make sections of India’s secular establishment highly uncomfortable.
Finally, there’s “Bhakt.” I guess they would call me one. I’ll give them this much: that one does not make any reference to any great evil perpetrated by Congress, Islamists or Communists. If there is any historical reference there, it is to the Bhakti movement which emphasized love and compassion towards all living things and sometimes advocated extreme forms of non-violence. You can go ahead and call me a Bhakt, I don’t mind.
Of course, the honest thing here for opponents of the Hindu right to do would be to give up. To admit that there is no civilization that has been historically more tolerant and peaceful than that of the Hindus of India. To stop presenting Islam as a religion of peace, to stop presenting Communism as a form of social justice and to stop presenting India’s biggest zamindars as allies of the poor and downtrodden. But that would take more honesty than they will ever have.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.