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Updated on 3/4/2002 9:33:18 AM
The Sangh is Vajpayee’s soul

Khawaja Mohammad Bashir Butt

We are generally gullible and are easily taken in by glib words or meek postures.

We divide the Hindutva leadership into the categories of soft and hard, hawks and doves or extremists and moderates.

It is an ingrained strategy and the nature of the Hindutva leadership that while dealing with their adversaries, some of them outwardly pose as moderates and the other as diehard extremists, but in reality, they are chips off the same block.

Both are the parts of the same body and structure serving a common purpose and goal.

Some people in Pakistan consider Vajpayee as a moderate and soft leader and not an extremist and fundamentalist Hindu leader.

Here is reality and the truth from the horse’s mouth as shown by the following extracts from Mr Vajpayee’s own article entitled “The Sang is my soul”, published in the weekly New Delhi (The official organ of RSS and BJP) dated May 7, 1995.

“I came in contact with the RSS in 1939 through Arya Kumar Sabha, a youth branch of Arya Samaj in Gwalior.

I started going to the Shakha regularly.

I liked the games played in the Shakha as well as the weekly Buddhiks (intellectual discourses).

A Pracharak Shri Narayanroa Tarte had come from Nagpur to start the Shakha.

What I am today is the making of Shri Tarte.

(Note: The RSS runs schools and training camps that openly promote religious intolerance and discrimination on the basis of caste.

At present, there are more than 300,000 such camps in India known as Shakhas, which are recruiting young boys and men.

They give them extensive physical and ideological training, creating disciples full of “Hindu fervour” and military-like discipline) “Next to him I was inspired by Deendayal Upadhyaya and Bhauroa Decras.

In 1941 when I was in high school, I did my first year of officer training course of RSS.

In 1942 when I was in the intermediate class I did my second year OTC and I did my third year in 1944 when I was doing my BA.

When I wrote Hindu Jeevan, I was a student of Class X.

Owing to the partition, I could not complete my law.

Then in 1947 we were assertive Hindus.

“I decided to give up my studies to come out as a wholetime worker of RSS.

Till 1947 I did the RSS work at the Shakha level and carried on my studies.

My elder brother was also attached with the RSS.

The RSS does not change only individuals.

It changes also the collective mind.

That is the beauty of the RSS ethos.

Gandhiji had praised the RSS for absence of untouchability in the organisation.

The RSS has a two-fold task before it.

One is to organise the Hindus to build a strong Hindu society.

The other task is to assimilate the non-Hindus like Muslims and Christians in the mainstream.

But the Islamic division of the world into darul harab and darul Islam comes in the way.

Islam has yet to learn the art of existing and flourishing in a country were Muslims are in a minority.

“The Congress has not correctly understood the Muslim problem.

They continue to carry on their policy of appeasement.

But to what effect? The Muslims of this country can be treated in three ways.

One is tiraskar, which means if they will not themselves change, then leave them alone and reject them as our compatriots.

Second is puraskar, which is appeasement, i.e.

bribe them to behave, which is being done by the Congress and others of their like.

The third way is parishkar, meaning to change them by offering them the right samskaras.

Their religion will not be changed.

Mecca can continue to be holy for the Muslims but India should be holier than the holy for them.

If they have to choose between Mecca or Islam and India, they must choose India.

“I wrote Hindu Jeevan when I was studying in the tenth class.

I had then said, ‘Koi batlaye Kabul mein jaker kitni masjidien torin.’ I still stand by my words.

But we did pull down the structure in Ayodhya.

In fact ,it was a reaction to the Muslim vote bank.

There was no puraskar for burai (evil).

We change burai also with parishkar.

Now I think the Hindu society has been regenerated, which was the prime task of the RSS.

Earlier, Hindus used to bend before an invasion, but not now.

If the Hindu society does not expand itself it will face a crisis of survival.

We have to expand ourselves.

We have to take others along with us.

The ample reason for my long association with the RSS is that I like the Sangh.

I like its ideology.

Actually, the Sangh is our family.

We are all one.

In the beginning, we could not spread our work in all sections of society because we did not have enough workers.

As we have more workers now, we are covering allocations of society in all fields of life.”

 

Organiser , RSS: Vision and Action Special, May 7, 1995. p. 61-63.
The Sangh is my Soul

(by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee)

What I am today is the making of Shri Tarte. Next to him I was inspired by Deendayal Upadhyaya and Bhaurao Deoras. Gwalior was then not within the field of Bhauraoji. But once he had come to Gwalior with Shri Balasaheb Apte who was the then Bauddhik Pramukh... My father was not attached to the RSS, but my elder brother was... But the Islamic division of the world into 'Darul Harab' and 'Darul Islam' comes in the way. Islam has yet to learn the art of existing and flourishing in a country where Muslims are in a minority. They cannot convert the whole of India to Islam. After all, they have to live here. So they have to recognise this fact. And today it has become a matter of grave concern and deep thinking in the Muslim countries. Because Quran offers no guidance in this regard. It only talks of killing kafirs or converting them to Islam. But they cannot do it always and everywhere. How can they do it where they are in a minority? If they try to do it, a major clash will take place and only the members of the minority will be killed. But Muslims themselves have to change this state of affairs. We cannot change it for them... Congress has not correctly understood the Muslim problem. They continue to carry on their policy of appeasement. But to what effect? The Muslims of this country can be treated in three ways.... One is 'tiraskar' which means if they will not themselves change leave them alone, reject them as out compatriots. Second is 'puruskar' which is appeasement, i.e., bribe them to behave, which is being done by the Congress and others of their ilk. The third way is 'parishkar' meaning to change them, that is, restore them to the mainstream by providing them samskaras. ... We want to change them by offering them the right samskaras. Their religion will not be changed. They can follow their own religion. Mecca can continue to be holy for the Muslims but India should be holier than the holy for them. You can go to a mosque and offer namaz, you can keep the roza. We have no problem. But if you have to choose between Mecca or Islam and India you must choose India. All the muslims should have this feeling: we will live and die only for this country.

I wrote "Hindu Tan-man Hindu Jeevan" when I was studying in the tenth class. I had then said, "koi batlaye Kabul mein jaakar kitni masjiden todin." I still stand by my words. But we (Hindus) did pull down the structure in Ayodhya. In fact it was a reaction to the Muslim vote-bank. We wanted to solve this problem through negotiation and legislation. But there was no puraskar for burai (evil act). We change burai also with parishkar. Now I think, the Hindu society has been regenerated which was the prime task of the RSS. Earlier Hindus used to bend before an invasion but not now. This change in Hindu society is worthy of welcome. So much change must have come with the new-found ... The simple reason for my long association with the RSS is that I like the Sangh. I like its ideology, and above all I like the RSS attitude towards people, towards one another which is found only in the RSS ... When I was ill during the Emergency, my family members did not turn up to see me. They were afraid of being arrested for any such action. Only the RSS workers helped me.

 

Organiser, "RSS: Vision and Action Special", May 7, 1995. p. 61-63.
"The Sangh is my Soul"

(by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee)

{Quote}

I came in contact with the RSS in 1939 through Arya Kumar Sabha, a youth branch of Arya Samaj, in Gwalior-then a princely state which was not part of any province. I came from a strong 'sanatani' family. But I used to be at the weekly 'satsang' of Arya Kumar Sabha. Once Shri Bhoodev Shastri who was a senior worker of Arya kumar Sabha, and a great thinker and an expert organiser, asked us: "What do you do in the evenings?" "Nothing", we said, because the Arya Kumar Sabha used to meet in the morning on every Sunday. Then he recommended us to go to the shakha. Thus I started going to the Shakha in Gwalior. It was my first association with the RSS. At that time the shakha in Gwalior had just begun. It had only Maharashtrian boys, and naturally all the swayamsevaks used to speak only Marathi. I started going to the shakha regularly. I liked the games played in the shakha as well as the weekly 'bauddhiks' (intellectual discourses).

A pracharak, Shri Narayanrao Tarte had come from Nagpur to start the shakha. He was indeed a superb human being; a very simple man, a thinker and an expert organiser. What I am today is the making of Shri Tarte. Next to him I was inspired by Deendayal Upadhyaya and Bhaurao Deoras. Gwalior was then not within the field of Bhauraoji. But once he had come to Gwalior with Shri Balasaheb Apte who was the then Bauddhik Pramukh. Apteji was very soft-spoken. We were soon drawn towards him. I had talked with him for only a few minutes. But the same year (1940) when I went to see the first year Officers' Training Camp (OTC), I came in close contact with him. I went there just to attend the valedictory function of the camp, not for training. Dr. Hedgewar had also come there for the some time. I first saw him there. When Doctorji was ill I went to see him. In 1941 when I was in High School I did my first year OTC. In 1942 when I was in Intermediate class I did my second year OTC, and I did my third year in 1944 when I was doing my B.A.

When I wrote 'Hindu Tan-man Hindu Jeevan' I was a student of class X. After completing my graduation from Gwalior I did my M.A. from the DAV College in Kanpur, because there was no post-graduate college in Gwalior. I then got State Government's scholarship also. Owing to Partition, I could not complete my Law. And then in 1947, I decided to give up my studies to come out as a whole-time worker of the RSS. Till 1947 I did the RSS work at the shakha level and carried on my studies. I also participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942 and was jailed. I was then studying for my Intermediate examination. I was arrested from my native village Bhateshwar in Agra district. I was then 16.

My father was not attached to the RSS, but my elder brother was. He would go to the shakha. Once he went to the winter camp where he created a problem. He said: "I cannot take my food with the other swayamsevaks. I shall prepare my food myself." And see how deftly the RSS handled the situation. The 'sarvadhikari' (superintendent) of the camp complied with his request and provided him all the necessary thing for preparing his food. After taking his bath and properly adjusting his sacred thread, etc., he started cooking his food. On the first day he prepared the food for himself. The next day, however, he could not prepare it and joined the queue of all swayamsevaks for partaking of the food. Within 44 hours he was changed.

The RSS does not change only individuals. It changes also the collective mind. This is the beauty of the RSS ethos. In our spiritual tradition an individual can attain a great height. Even self-realisation is possible if one undertakes the right 'sadhana' and also attain 'nirvana.' But what about the society? Nobody thinks about his obligation to the society in general. Now for the first time the RSS thought about it and concluded that by changing individuals we shall change the society. Had the sarvadhikari at the camp scolded him and not allowed him to prepare his food himself his spiritual development would have been thwarted, whereas in the RSS within 44 hours he was a changed boy. This is the "secret method" of the RSS. That is how society is changed. It is true that it is a long process but then there are no short-cuts, no instant recipes.

Gandhiji had praised the RSS for the absence of untouchability in the organisation. Only the RSS organises the society. Other movements only divide the society by emphasising distinct 'identity', different 'interests', special 'status', etc. They only encourage untouchability by constantly reminding the so-called untouchables of their "separateness." "You are being insulted. You have no place in society."

The RSS has a two-fold task before it. One is to organise the Hindus. To build a strong Hindu society, well-knit and rising above caste and other artificial differences. Some differences will persist but then variety is the spice of life. Like, we have the differences of the language. We don't want to destroy this diversity. The other task is to assimilate the non-Hindus, like Muslims and Christians in the mainstream. They can follow the faith of their own conviction. No one can object to it. We worship trees, animals, stones, and what not. We have hundreds of ways of worshipping God. They can go where they want. But this country must be looked upon as the Motherland for them. They must have a feeling of patriotism for this country. But the Islamic division of the world into 'Darul Harab' and 'Darul Islam' comes in the way. Islam has yet to learn the art of existing and flourishing in a country where Muslims are in a minority. They cannot convert the whole of India to Islam. After all, they have to live here. So they have to recognise this fact. And today it has become a matter of grave concern and deep thinking in the Muslim countries. Because Quran offers no guidance in this regard. It only talks of killing kafirs or converting them to Islam. But they cannot do it always and everywhere. How can they do it where they are in a minority? If they try to do it, a major clash will take place and only the members of the minority will be killed. But Muslims themselves have to change this state of affairs. We cannot change it for them.

Congress has not correctly understood the Muslim problem. They continue to carry on their policy of appeasement. But to what effect? The Muslims of this country can be treated in three ways. One is 'tiraskar' which means if they will not themselves change leave them alone, reject them as out compatriots. Second is 'puruskar' which is appeasement, i.e., bribe them to behave, which is being done by the Congress and others of their ilk. The third way is 'parishkar' meaning to change them, that is, restore them to the mainstream by providing them samskaras. We want to change them by offering them the right samskaras. Their religion will not be changed. They can follow their own religion. Mecca can continue to be holy for the Muslims but India should be holier than the holy for them. You can go to a mosque and offer namaz, you can keep the roza. We have no problem. But if you have to choose between Mecca or Islam and India you must choose India. All the muslims should have this feeling: we will live and die only for this country.

I wrote "Hindu Tan-man Hindu Jeevan" when I was studying in the tenth class. I had then said, "koi batlaye Kabul mein jaakar kitni masjiden todin." I still stand by my words. But we (Hindus) did pull down the structure in Ayodhya. In fact it was a reaction to the Muslim vote-bank. We wanted to solve this problem through negotiation and legislation. But there was no puraskar for burai (evil act). We change burai also with parishkar. Now I think, the Hindu society has been regenerated which was the prime task of the RSS. Earlier Hindus used to bend before an invasion but not now. This change in Hindu society is worthy of welcome. So much change must have come with the new-found self-assertion. This is a question of self-preservation. If the Hindu society does not expand itself it will face the crisis of survival. We have to expand ourselves. We have to take others along with. Now the Yadavs and the so-called Harijans are going with us. After all we have to live as Hindus. Once a Yadav leader came to me and said: "Don't condemn all Yadavs. All Yadavs are not with Mulayam Singh and Laloo Prasad. A 'samskrit' (cultured) Yadav does not like them. There can be sections of Rajput, Kurmi and Gujjar Muslims but you cannot find any Yadav Muslim anywhere. The Yadavs never accepted Islam. This talk of "Yadav-Muslim" Unity - MY card - is nothing more than an empty slogan for votes."

The simple reason for my long association with the RSS is that I like the Sangh. I like its ideology, and above all I like the RSS attitude towards people, towards one another which is found only in the RSS. I remember an incident, when I was in Lucknow. The Socialist movement was its peak. Suddenly a senior socialist activist fell ill. He was lying alone in his house, and nobody went to enquire after his well-being. Then Acharya Narendra Deo came to know and he went to his house to see him. The Acharya then said, "What fraternity is this in the Socialist Party? Nobody has come to see you. It can never happen in the RSS. If a swayamsevak does not go to the shakha only for one day the same day friends will promptly reach his house to enquire about his well-being."

When I was ill during the Emergency, my family members did not turn up to see me. They were afraid of being arrested for any such action. Only the RSS workers helped me. See, how much living contact and fraternal feeling is in the RSS. Actually the Sangh is our family. We are all one.

In the beginning we could not spread our work in all sections of the society because we did not have enough workers. "Man-making" is the prime job of the RSS. As we now have more workers, we are covering all sections of the society in all fields of life. Changes are taking place in all spheres. But the work of man-making will not be discontinued, it will go on. It must go on. That is what the RSS movement is.

{Unquote}

 

In `RSS - The "Sangh": What is it, and what is it not?" Partha Banerjee notes that:

"Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the parliamentary leader of BJP, is a lifelong member of RSS, more commonly known as the "Sangh". Most leaders and active members of BJP are products of the Sangh and steeped in its Hindu supremacist doctrine. Vajpayee was a full-time RSS worker before he was "released" for BJP (formerly Jana Sangh) activities. In one of his Hindi poems, Vajpayee proclaims: "Hindu Hindu mera parichay"-my only identity is Hindu. This may remind us of his campaign speeches during the recent Indian elections, "Is it a crime to be a Hindu in this country?" ...

"Israel now has become a hot favorite of the Sangh Parivar-Vajpayee, Advani, and other BJP leaders have frequented the country to show their support for the ferociously anti-Arab nation. Attempts have often been made, allegedly, to iron out the Sangh's previously bitter relationships with USA via the mediation of Israel. Note the irony here-a Hitler-admiring organization is having a mutual love-fest with the one nation that has the most reason on earth to despise anything that even remotely seeks of Hitler and the Nazi party. "

 

`Vajpayee-"Hindutva" & Minorities' SAAG, paper 67
Pandit Vajpayee's belief Akhand Bharat

Pandrah august ka din kahta,
azadi abhi adhuri hai sapne sach hone banki hain,
ravi ki shapath na poori hai.
din door nahin khandit bharat ko,
punah akhand banayenge,
gilgit se garo parwat tak azadi parva manayenge. us swarn divas ke liye aaj se kamar kasen
balidan karen jo paya usme kho na jayen
jo khoya uska dhyan karen.

(The day of August 15 says-Freedom is still incomplete.
There are still dreams waiting to be realised.
River Ravi`s pledge is still unfulfilled.
The day is not far when we shall reunite the divided India.
From Gilgit to Garo Mountain, we shall celebrate the freedom festival.
Come, get ready to strive, and sacrifice for the golden day, so that we protect what we have got and aim to get what we have lost.)

 

The News International, Friday, April 26, 2002
Criticism over Gujarat riots irks Vajpayee

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee lashed out on Thursday at swelling international criticism of the Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat state as the violence claimed another life.

Vajpayee, angered over comments by Western diplomats in local papers, told a religious gathering in New Delhi that India would not accept sermons from other countries about its handling of the bloodbath. "India is being advised on pluralism and secularism. We need not learn about secularism from anybody," Vajpayee said. He also maintained that his government would be able to end the violence. "Our foundation is strong. There is no reason why people, who in the present circumstances have deviated, should not come back on the right path," Vajpayee added.

Thirty-one people have been killed in Gujarat since Sunday, when fresh unrest broke out in the deadliest clashes there since the army was deployed to keep order in early March. In the latest incident, police said on Thursday one man was killed and two others injured in overnight riots. They were shot by police who fired several rounds on a mob, who were burning down houses and other properties in the commercial hub of Ahmedabad.

The international criticism caused India's foreign ministry to warn European and other countries on Wednesday not to meddle in the nation's internal affairs. "Some foreign countries and missions in New Delhi are injecting themselves into the highly politically charged internal debate in the country and are creating an impression of playing a partisan role," the ministry said and added.

 

The Hindu, Opinion, April 16, 2002
Mr. Vajpayee, the swayamsevak

By Kuldip Nayar

The outcry by the intelligentsia is not because the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee's mask has come off but because his liberalism has turned out to be phoney. Many feel cheated when they find him as much a torchbearer of Hindutva as anyone else in the Sangh Parivar. An RSS ideologue had repeatedly said that Mr. Vajpayee was only a `mukut' (mask). Still very few believed him because Mr. Vajpayee spoke and even sometimes acted differently from the saffron leaders. In fact, one sympathised with him, believing that his was a lone voice, lost in the cacophony of fundamentalists. It was hoped — a mere wishful thinking — that some day his voice would be loud enough to silence those who were arguing in favour of converting the democratic secular India into a theocratic state.

Doubts about Mr. Vajpayee were always there. But never before was he found out, as happened at the BJP's Goa conclave. His behaviour and contradictory statements after the Gujarat carnage have made people see him in his true colours. The question is not whether the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi should be removed or not. The question is whether Mr. Vajpayee should defend him and echo his words. The burning of Ram sevaks at Godhra is unpardonable and the Centre is doing well to find out the killers. They deserve no mercy. But when Mr. Vajpayee says that the happenings in the rest of Gujarat were a consequence of Godhra, he repeats what Mr. Modi said to cover up his mistakes and complicity: ``Action would have reaction.'' Incidents in Ahmedabad and Vadodra were part of a well-planned and well-executed scheme of exterminating a particular community. This scheme had been prepared long before Godhra and it would have been carried out, even without the gruesome Godhra incident. Taking Mr. Vajpayee's explanation to its logical end will mean that if some Muslim fundamentalists were to kill some Hindus at a certain place, it would be natural for Hindus to kill innocent Muslims elsewhere. What norms the Prime Minister is trying to lay down?

And what an irresponsible statement he has made at the BJP's meeting at Goa: ``We allow them (Muslims and Christians) to offer prayers and follow their religion''. This is an excerpt which a Delhi paper published on the front page in its Sunday edition. Who are `we'? Is he justified to say so? Just because he is the Prime Minister with the help of some self-serving members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), or just because he belongs to the majority community, can he arrogate to himself the power which no one has got, since power belongs to the people living in the country?

And even if the country comes to be ruled by Mr. Vajpayee's party, it does not mean that he has the authority to dictate to the minorities. They draw their right from the Constitution as Mr. Vajpayee does. India is as much their country as his. The Constitution used the word, ``We, the People of India''.

No individual, government or party is above the people. Both the majority and the minority constitute the people.

Mr. Vajpayee has done a service by owning Hindutva openly. At least those who have had illusions about him know who he is. He is only a swayamsewak who stands to attention at RSS parades to prove that he is as obedient as any other in the Parivar and all of them believe that religion and the state are synonymous. What a fall!

I won't be surprised if Mr. Vajpayee does not get even a footnote in history.

 

IndiaExpress.com, February 05, 2002
Vajpayee strongly defends the RSS

In what is sure to kick up a political storm, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has come out strongly in defense of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and called it a “cultural and social organization.”

Vajpayee on February 5 defended the Gujarat Government's decision to lift the ban on the State government employees joining the RSS in the face of opposition criticism.

"Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh is not a political outfit. It is a cultural and social organization and I don't think objections should be raised on anybody joining it," Vajpayee told journalists after inaugurating the World Book Fair in New Delhi.

Asked to comment on reports that President K R Narayanan had sought clarification from the Center on the Gujarat Government's decision, the Vajpayee said "The Government's stand will be made known to the President. I am confident this will satisfy him."

Central Civil Service (conduct) rules 1964 prohibit Government servants from joining any political party or organization which takes part in politics, subscribes in aid of or assists in any other manner, any political movement or activity.

 

April 18, 2002 Posted: 10:08 AM EDT (1408 GMT)
Vajpayee reveals his true colors

By Mark Tully

(CNN) -- The communal violence in the western Indian state of Gujarat -- which is still continuing sporadically nearly eight weeks after it first broke out -- has cast doubts on the future of secularism in India.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, known to believe in moderation in politics, has now come out openly in support of the Hindu hardliners in his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

These hardliners now seem determined to revive the campaign for a Hindu India.

Vajpayee has often been described as the mask, hiding the true nature of his Bharatiya Janata Party with its ambition to establish a Hindu India.

For four years as leader, he has held that mask firmly in place but last weekend the mask slipped, or more accurately, he threw it away.

There was nothing accidental about the hard-hitting speech he made at a rally during the party's National Executive meeting in Goa.

Vajpayee maintained that wherever there were Muslims in the world there was strife and suggested that Hindus had the right to decide the freedom to be allowed to other religions.

"We have allowed Hindus and Muslims to say their prayers," the Indian leader said.

Support for Modi

He backed his party's support for Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, who has been widely criticized for failing to control the recent outbreak of Hindu-Muslim violence and to provide adequate relief for the displaced.

Gangs of Hindu rioters went on the rampage in Gujaray, killing hundreds of Muslims and razing buildings and homes in revenge attacks fuelled by the firebombing of a train carrying Hindu activists.

The activists were returning from a controversial site sacred to both Hindus and Muslims in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya.

They had been campaigning for the rebuilding of a Hindu temple on the site of a mosque torn down in 1992.

At least 59 Hindus were killed when several carriages of the train were torched on February 27.

That attack sparked the worst sectarian violence in India for more than a decade, leaving around 800 people dead and thousands homeless.

Vajpayee also backed the suggestion that Modi should dissolve the Gujarat State Assembly and go for an election.

The BJP clearly believes that the attacks on Muslims, the killings, the rape, the burning and the looting will be popular with the Hindu electorate in Gujarat, and wants to hold an election before the anti-Muslim sentiment subsides.

No option

In taking this stand, Vajpayee knew he was threatening the survival of his government, so why did he throw away his mask?

He had no option. Under his leadership the BJP has recently suffered a series of electoral disasters.

Just before Goa, it was humiliated in local body elections in Delhi, once its stronghold.

These defeats have revived the long-running dispute within the party.

On the one side, there have been those like Vajpayee who believe that an uncompromising Hindu agenda will never attract more than minority support.

On the other side, the ideologues maintain that the only purpose of the party is to promote what they call Hindutva, arguing that the party always becomes weaker when it abandons or waters down its Hindu agenda.

The evidence of recent elections left Vajpayee defenseless against the hardliners, so he had to back them when he faced his party in Goa.

Turning point?

After Goa, Indians were asking whether this was a turning point in their history.

Has the country got its first Prime Minister who is prepared to be blatantly pro-Hindu? Is there going to be an election in Gujarat openly fought on communal lines?

If so and the BJP wins, will it decide to go it alone in other parts of the country fighting elections with campaigns which provoke hatred of Muslims?.

Ten years ago Indians were also asking whether the secularism which had been the guiding principle of the constitution since independence had gone for good.

The question was provoked by the destruction of the mosque in Ayodhya and the communal violence that erupted in its wake.

But secularism was restored and the Vajpayee line prevailed in the BJP.

Temporary phenomenon

So it's tempting to forecast that Gujarat and its aftermath will also prove to be a temporary phenomenon.

Already Vajpayee is claiming to have been misunderstood, and if he is to hold his coalition together he can not allow the temperature to remain at fever level.

The BJP seems to be having second thoughts about holding an immediate election in Gujarat.

But even if the Cassandras are proved wrong that does not mean the wounds of Gujarat will heal.

Muslims' confidence in Indian secularism has been shaken again.

Until the majority of Hindus make it absolutely clear that they are determined to live up to the Indian tradition of equal respect for all religions, there will be no antidote to the communal poison being spread by some leaders of both communities.

 

Rediff.com, Friday, April 12, 2002
Muslims don't want to live in harmony, says Vajpayee

Sheela Bhatt in Panaji

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had an unpleasant surprise for Muslims on Friday: he came down on the community like a ton of bricks.

Addressing a public rally in the Goan capital, Vajpayee said Islam has two faces: one that teaches tolerance and respects human sentiments; another that fans militancy where there is no place for tolerance.

Completely changing his tone from the anguished one he had adopted in Gujarat last fortnight, Vajpayee, in the presence of members of the Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive, lashed out at Muslims. "In Indonesia, Malaysia, wherever Muslims are living they don't want to live in harmony," he claimed. "They don't mix with the society [ghul milkar nahin rehte]. They are not interested in living in peace."

He said that along with Islam madrassas (Islamic religious schools) should teach science subjects. They should also teach children to live in harmony. "Talwar ke bal par mat ka prachar nahin karna chahiye (Islamists should not preach their opinions by force)," he said.

On the Gujarat riots, he took the same line as the hardliners within the Sangh Parivar, blaming it all on the massacre at Godhra. "Aag lagayi kisne?" he thundered. "Aag faily kaise? (Who lit the fire? How did it spread?)"

But he conceded that what had happened after Godhra was also condemnable. "If you go deeper into the Gujarat tragedy," he said, "you will find that the people of India believe in a multi-religious culture and want to live in harmony. No one should challenge our beliefs in secularism."

He said he was surprised to know during his visit to Singapore about the arrests of some 15 Al Qaeda members. He said India was suffering at the hand of these terrorists.

Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, though present at the public meeting, did not speak. BJP president K Jana Krishnamurthi stoutly defended the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat and warned the Congress that it should respect "democratic norms". Slamming the Congress campaign for Modi's ouster, he warned, "We too are capable of playing this sport."

 

The Times of India, MONDAY, MARCH 04, 2002 9:21:09 PM
Media exaggerating riots situation in Gujarat: PM

NEW DELHI: A day after his televised address to the nation regretting the "disgraceful" violence in Gujarat, Prime Minister Vajpayee told a group of concerned citizens that the media was presenting an "exaggerated" account of the situation in the state.

According to members of the citizens' delegation - which included noted Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande - Vajpayee told them on Sunday that it was incorrect to suggest that the whole of Gujarat was burning, when the violence was limited to a few places.

According to writer and activist Sonia Jabbar, who was part of the delegation, Vajpayee said the media has not played a constructive role by showing scenes of carnage; and that instead of complaining to the government, the delegation should ask the media to play a better role. She said that Vajpayee added that if he were to say the same thing to the media directly, he would be accused of censorship.

The Prime Minister's Office has not released an account of the meeting. Attempts to contact the PMO spokesman proved unsuccessful.

The citizens' delegation asked Vajpayee about the possibility of banning groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, which were fomenting tension.

 

Tehelka.com
Prime Minister Vajpayee: the mirror with two faces

Although Vajpayee may calculatedly project a soft and moderate exterior, he is an RSS man to the boot, says Zafar Agha

New Delhi, April 6

It was a theatrics par excellence. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajapayee was at his oratorical best wooing the Muslims who had lost faith in every thing. After all, his trip to Ahmedabad had come up in an extremely demanding situation in a city haunted by state-sponsored genocide.

Ironically, the man largely responsible for this state-sponsored terrorism, Gujarat Chief Minister Modi, was seen accompanying the Prime Minister all along during the latter's visit to Ahmedabad. He was with Vajpayee at the Shah Alam camp, where thousands of Ahmedabad riot victims have taken refuge. Modi, in fact, never cared to visit these camps till Vajpayee reached the city on Thursday.

But Vajpayee had a brief to carry out. His job was to woo Muslims but at the same time not to upset Modi - a demanding job indeed! So the Prime Minister had to do his best. And, his performance in Gujarat was, indeed, one of the best in his long political career in which he has mastered the skill of oratory.

Vajpayee's expressions betrayed right emotions in the right situations. Flushed with disappointment and dismayed with the gravity of violence, Vajpayee delivered all the right lines: "Yeh kia pagalpan hia… Bhalla kaun inssan, inssan ko zinda jala sakta hai… Main kia moohn ley kar bahar jaoon gaa" (This is sheer madness… How can one human being burn another? What face will I carry outside India). It was theatrics at its best.

But Vajpayee betrayed his real self at the end of his journey. He did a volte face when a reporter asked whether Modi would be replaced. Vajpayee, with the right pause at the right time, said, "I don't see that possibility." And, to keep up his fašade he chided Modi to do his rajdharma, to which Modi retorted that he was doing his rajdharma all right. After all, both Vajpayee and Modi have learnt the same rajdharma in RSS shakhas that teach their members to convert Muslims into "second class citizens."

When the moment of reckoning came, Vajpayee stood by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) line: glib talking to Muslims of Ahmedabad but leaving Modi unharmed. This sums up Vajpayee the politician. His exterior is always soft, humane and at times as gentle as that of a poet. But his politics never deviates from RSS politics. Be it the massacre of Christians in Orissa or the killing and burning of Muslims in Ahmedabad, Vajpayee finally stands by the RSS line.

Vajpayee's performance in Ahmedabad leaves him exposed. It mirrors two faces of Vajpayee's personality. He is soft and moderate in his pronouncements. But he is the hardcore RSS man when it comes to practicing politics.

This is, indeed, a dangerous trait for a politician because he may say something but will do something the opposite. There have often been moments when the country witnessed this dangerous trait of Vajpayee, but rarely was it so fully exposed as in Ahmedabad.

 

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