Kerala: The Next Hindutva Lab, After Karnataka in South India?

October 27, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Saffron hate campaigns finds acceptance and practicality through new equations

The mammoth gathering of 1 lakh Swayamsevaks at Kollam, Kerala

File photo: The mammoth gathering of 1 lakh Swayamsevaks at Kollam, Kerala

Kerala, October 24, 2012: Hindutva has myths associated to most regions in India and this indeed has served the purpose of their self proclamation as the most genuine inheritors of the ‘birth land’ compared to people belonging to other religious and ethnic groups.

Kerala, according to Brahmanical myths, has been the land reclaimed from the sea after Parasurama, an avatar of Maha-Vishnu threw his battle axe into the sea. This myth, however, unlike Ayodhya [Ramjanma bhoomi] hasn’t until now helped the Hindutva tactics, as they are still unable to find a political grip through BJP.

But that doesn’t keep away the potential threats offered by Saffron agenda in the state because RSS has been functioning quite efficiently through thousands of Shakha’s, which has now found grounds even in the hilly districts of Wayanad and Idukki, where until few years back they were struggling to find cadres and resources.

The Saffron elements of the state united under an umbrella organisation ‘Hindu Aikya Vedi’ has been running several campaigns in the state for years, like ‘If Hindu wakes up, the nation wakes up,’ emphasising on the need to get the Hindu population unified citing that the Muslims who constitutes 25 percentage and Christians making up 20 percentage of the state population are organised enough to protect their interests whereas the Hindus, constituting 55 percent of the total population are scattered and so marginalised in every spheres of public life.

The modus operandi of ‘Hindu Aikya Vedi,’ resembles most other Indian states as they quite well knew that, the low castes, the fishing communities and agricultural daily wage labourers belonging to the Dalits communities in Kerala can be attracted to this Brahmanist Hindu alliance if and only if they are adequately brain washed with Islamophobia.

The extent to which the Kerala public sphere has fallen victims to Hindutva campaigns targeting minority communities is well evident from the statements of two earlier chief ministers of Kerala. First it was then CM, AK Antony, and currently the Union Defence Minister, who stated that the Muslims and Christians with the help of their organised structure get undeserving benefits.

It was then the turn of the then opposition leader and last Kerala CM, VS Achuthanandan who said that ‘the secret behind the success of students from Malappuram district in entrance examinations is through malpractice in the examination halls.’

These two leaders in reality, whether consciously or unconsciously, parroted the stand Sangh Parviar and its cadres have been taking against minority communities in Kerala.

Case of IUML:

Now these campaigns have found further acceptability because the Nair Service Society [NSS] and Sri Narayana Darma Paripalana Yogam [SNDP] has found it ideal to attack Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), based on any of the governmental decisions taken.

NSS and SNDP who were earlier found vehemently opposing each other have decided to ally with each other, recognising the scope of Hindutva politics in the state especially in the absence of a full-fledged BJP.

With lot of sympathisers within both ruling and opposition fronts having expectations of getting mutually benefitted through this relationship, these secular politicians appear keen to take up the NSS-SNDP agendas against the IUML and minorities of the state. What these sympathisers get in return is their support and references to back them in electoral candidature, KPCC [Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee] reformation meetings etc.

NSS and SNDP through these pressure tactics finally get benefit from the government by free allotment of lands for their institutions, governmental sanctions and other benefits in favour of their trusts.

With the educational ministry’s decision to conduct school art festival at Tirurangadi in Malappuram district, the IUML party statement that toddy (a kind of liquor also regarded as ‘health drink’) should be gradually banned in the state [Kerala High Court too had earlier made a similar observation asking the gradual banning of toddy].

However, this was portrayed as Muslim League’s communal agenda to favour Muslims in specific and as examples of their Islamic fundamentalism. But the most astonishing fact was that league was not ready to counter campaign using factual evidences or proofs and resorted to mere statements by leaders saying that there are Savarna [elite class] agendas against Muslim league.

The SNDP leader Vellapalli Nadeshan being an Abkari [Liquor business giant] in Kerala found the Muslim league statement harming his interests and he was no late in terming the IUML statement against toddy as one favouring Muslim community’s interests [because it is forbidden in Islam].

SNDP has been formed to uphold the great Hindu reformatory leader Srinarayana Guru’s teachings and what he taught was that ‘alcohol is poisonous’. It is now the very same Guru’s followers who came up in protest against a statement demanding the gradual banning of toddy.

The IUML’s statement against toddy which should have only been taken in the sense of their longing for an ‘alcohol free society’ any way got subjected to some serious criticisms even from the part of few ministers. And this was the time League leaders openly came up with statements like there are Savarna conspiracies against IUML, that too with support from leaders of the ruling ally.

[NB: 1. IUML’s sincerity in their stand against toddy is anyway under question, because they have made only statements before the media and no affirmative actions to pressurise the ruling front with whom they forms an ally to enforce a ban at least on a gradual basis.

2. The other thing is that, Muslims are competent enough to challenge any other communities with regard to toddy consumption in Kerala].

It seemed like IUML enjoyed these campaign from the part of NSS and SNDP which then got every sought of applause from the so called ‘secular’ political party leaders belonging to both the ruling and opposition fronts as it was more like IUML leaders were rather happy to be acknowledged as the one’s making use of their power to win undeserving benefits to Muslim community, when the fact was that it was only their political aspirations like fifth ministerial berth, which were accomplished.

So the issues in a way turned a boon to IUML leaders, to whom these controversies were an opportunity to give an impression that they are doing something relevant for the Muslim community, so IUML seemed silently enjoying it and the Muslim community as always were entitled to overcome another accusation of religious fundamentalism.

The IUML Educational minister Abdurabb’s decision to rename his official residence as ‘Grace’ from ‘Ganga,’ his decision to stay away from lighting ‘Nilavilakku,’ green jacket as teachers uniform in a college [it was Mehendi green and not even the bright green of IUML flag] were all then criticised as Muslim religious fundamentalism preventing religious coexistence, harmony and individual freedom.

Another minister Ibrahim Kunju, who in a party meeting like most other party leaders would do, to raise the spirit of his party workers went on to say that it is IUML, who is ruling the state. The congress party leaders were there in the forefront along with left parties to attack govt, asking the CM to regulate the IUML influence in the govt. All this hue and cry were meant to appease the NSS, SNDP leadership, who in turn would assure them adequate representation in the governmental functions or KPCC reformation next time as they are quite capable of pressurising congress leadership to accommodate their favourite ones in the name of appeasing majority community interests.

More than PFI or JIH, now IUML has been the victim to Sangh ideology campaigns in the state and they were earlier found taking sides with these so called ‘secular’ leaders and saffron elements to attack JIH and PFI to call them fundamentalists, extremists and isolate them in the society. Now the very same party who took sides with the saffron interests and attacked their own brethren is indicted of religious fundamentalism and is found going clueless before the hate campaigns targeting them in specific and the Muslim community in general.

Intolerant towards minority organisation:

The Saffron elements for years have been intolerant towards the political scenario of the Kerala because it has been a state were all religious groups found political representation with regard to population. They appear aggrieved to see minorities organising themselves and getting into administrative power.

This has been part of the Sanghparivar agenda of portraying minority communities and their organisations as potential threats keeping in mind their own political benefits. Their tactics in Kerala with BJP finding it hard to turn a real contender in electoral politics will focus on the soft Hindutva approach of taking in to faith-the secular politicians of the state to carry out their campaigns against politically organised minority communities and any sought of emancipation attempts from their part.

The threat is not saffronisation, but the trajectory of modernity

Jenny RowenaRowena spoke to TCN’s Abdul Basith on the Hindutva attempt to saffronise Kerala, and an attempt at making it another Karnataka.Jenny Rowena says – “First of all I am against the thinking of RSS, and its Hindutva brand as a stand-alone category, which is removed from left parties and other such secular institutions. Instead, I think of the RSS Hindutwa ideology as inherent to the left itself and coming from Malabar/Thalasserry, I can tell you that there is really no difference between how a secular Malayalaee , the RSS and the left stand on various issues. Kerala hegemonic culture itself is caste Hindu in nature and it does not allow space for Dalits /Muslims or OBCs who refuse to act savarna [Elite caste].
The problem for me is not in RSS, saffronisation, etc. but in Kerala modernity itself, and its literature, cinema, popular discourses, intellectuals. I hold all this responsible for the high level of casteism and Islamophobia in Kerala. So Sangh people don’t have much work in Kerala – they just tap into all this.

The anxiety about Muslims getting more positions is a misplaced OBC anxiety and sheer OBC Islamophobia – this is again not because of Sangh or anything – this is because of the lack of any kind of understanding of caste in Kerala. So the OBCs who want to articulate their position is able to do it only by taking on the Hindu-Muslim discourse – by taking the ‘Hindutva’ position the OBCs are trying to be savarna and not speak of caste.

By doing this they are becoming secular citizens (perfect Malayalees) who see all problems in terms of Hindu-Muslim – because in Kerala to be Hindu and to support such distinctions and not see caste is the way to be modern, progressive, secular, etc.I also do not see the Sangh as a ‘Hindu’ problem – but I see it more in terms of the caste hegemony they are trying to establish. The Hindutva discourse is only something that they use to hide their caste agenda and present themselves as Hindu/Indian – as shown by G. Aloysius {in his book: Nationalism without a Nation] Hindu/India was actually a caste discourse carefully manufactured against the British [and Muslims] but actually against lower castes /Dalits.

So my answer is that the saffronization of Kerala needs to be probed urgently in its history, its secular institutions, the left party and its discourse, etc. – putting it all on RSS is just generating the Hindu-Muslim, caste-Hindu binary, which will not interrogate or understand anything about the violent anti-Dalit, anti-OBC culture of Kerala.”

– abdul basith, tcn

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