A disillusioned and dispirited RSS has set the ball rolling for mid-term general elections in which it hopes that the BJP will gain an absolute majority and implement the Hindutva agenda.
THE situation in India today is characterised and manifested by creeping fascism. Never before in our history have we been confronted by such an almost invisible phenomenon. India has seen a crawling imperialism (1750-1947) when foreign traders turned me rcenary protectors, and then slowly became our masters. But that process took a century to consummate and another century to unwind. The Indian people have also experienced the Emergency (1975-77) that came upon the land in a flash and went out much the same way. Nevertheless we had got a taste of dictatorship of the modern state in that short period. We had felt it, hated it, but then the nation also revolted against it.
Today the creeping fascism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is coming upon us not as gradually as imperialism did, nor as suddenly as did the Emergency. Its spread is being calibrated adroitly by seven faceless men of the RSS, the RSS "high comma nd". We barely feel it. Some yesteryear civil libertyites such as Arun Shourie have been co-opted. Others are being wooed or chased.
But the RSS leaders are now in their late seventies, some not at all in good health, and so in a mood of frustration. Their glide to a total capture of Delhi's gaddi (throne) has been interrupted and put on 'hold'. Symbolically, the bhagwa dhwaj (saffron double triangle flag) does not yet flutter from the Red Fort; but the hated tricolour which no RSS office can hoist even on August 15, still does. The climb to total power is up a slippery slope. Having come so close, the RSS could lose it all in a sudden throw of the electoral dice. That is the frustration; so close yet so far. Last April, my tea party nearly put their goal out of reach. It was a close call.
So the RSS warhorses recently have chalked out a game plan: the "Final Solution". The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the National Agenda for Governance, they concluded, cannot go on forever. It must be ended at some poi nt. Otherwise the danger is that the RSS may.
Between the 1998 and 1999 general elections, the BJP had for the first time in 15 years and after six general elections, hit a plateau in Lok Sabha seats won. Its tally was stuck at 182 seats. The tally of its "allied parties" - which do not believe in H indutva - rose in terms of numbers (18 to 24), as well in terms of seats won (80 to 120). This rang alarm bells in the RSS. For an organisation that has been banned three times in 15 years, the 1999 election results naturally, justifiably, caused neurosi s in the RSS. Under the compulsions of the coalition calculus, they have had to dilute their goals for the rewards of office. It was a trade-off: a BJP Prime Minister meant acquiring national and international legitimacy they never had before. It also me ant a conspiracy of silence of the intellectuals in the creeping advance of their Hindutva goals.
But then there is a downside to that trade-off: the RSS cadre is disillusioned and disspirited with the compromises and the stunting. India is nowhere the Hindu Rashtra that the high command had been promising, and on which they had been weaned and brain -washed. The cadres' patience is now wearing thin. They want to strike out on their own even at the cost of losing power. I have seen this mindset before. Between 1977 and 1980, in the undivided Janata Party, I had witnessed the agony in the cadre. At th at time the same trade-offs were pointed out to the disgruntled rank and file by the high command. But the welling of sentiment could not be capped. The seven (younger men then) had therefore to act. They had to abandon the compromises in order to keep t he Janata unity. They thus allowed the government to fall, and then went on their own to form the BJP.
The current situation for the RSS is also characterised by the same paradigm. The RSS has, according to reliable sources, made up its mind that the NDA has taken its cause about as far as it could. The trade-off is no more worth it. Therefore the groundw ork has to be laid clandestinely and in small doses for achieving an absolute majority for the BJP. In other words, in the not-too-distant future, I believe the RSS will call for a mid-term poll when it feels that the ground has been prepared. The RSS ju ggernaut is thus on the move, and the groundwork is already there for the discerning to see. For this to fructify, the RSS has drawn up a game plan which has three components.
The second component of the RSS game plan is to shake public confidence in every institution that can circumscribe or act as a speed-breaker for the RSS juggernaut. The Law Minister has already initiated moves to emasculate the Supreme Court via the judi cial commission and by threatening political monitoring of judicial ethics. Just in case his ilk got too rebellious, he has threatened to amend the law (through an ordinance) to permit foreign lawyers to practise in Indian courts. Briefless Jaffna lawyer s are waiting to fill the vacuum.
The Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister has elevated an RSS activist to the post of a selector of teachers in the National Council for Educational Research and Training, a person who defends his credentials of valour by recording that he once had s hot dead a young Muslim girl to protect her honour and to end her misery while she was being gang-raped by Hindu youth during Partition. That, of course, is Hindutva justice: that is, the minorities can best look forward to liberation through mercy killi ng.
Christians are being targeted by the front organisations of the RSS in order to terrorise and ghetto-ise all minorities. Since Osama bin Laden is stalking the Hindustan peninsula with his millions of dollars and narcotics, for the wily and cautious RSS. Christians are an easy target because there are no Christian terrorists to retaliate. As the period of the Emergency clearly demonstrated, the RSS is astute enough to know when to hunt with the hounds and when to run with the hares. They are smarter than the German fascists in this respect.
The third component of the RSS game plan is to ready the blueprints for implementing the agenda. Of course they cannot implement it in the present Parliament, but it will be their USP (unique selling proposition) for the mid-term poll. They have already scripted the new history texts; they have sent into circulation amongst the faithful how the new Constitution of India should be structured.
ACCORDING to a draft circulated at the 1998 October conference of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), an RSS front organisation, the following measures are planned: The present bicameral Parliament would be replaced by a three-tier structure. At the apex will be a Guru Sabha of sadhus and sanyasis (read VHP activists) nominated by the President who is elected by a Lok Sabha constituted on a limited electoral college of primary and secondary school teachers, the rolls of which will be prepared by the HRD Ministry and not the Election Commission. All legislation and money bills will have to originate in the Guru Sabha and be passed by it before being sent to the Lok Sabha. The Guru Sabha will also be the judicial commission to nominate Supreme Court Judges, and impeach them. In between the Guru Sabha and the Lok Sabha, there will be a Raksha Sabha of serving armed forces chiefs and retired soldiers who can decide when to declare an Emergency. India would be, it seems, converted into a state w hich is a cross between the Taliban and the Vatican. It is for this scheme that they will seek a mandate in a mid-term poll.
The RSS game plan also has proposals to bridle the electoral system. Adult suffrage is out, but furthermore, the electoral college for the Lok Sabha will not vote for candidates, but for parties under a List System. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be used in all the constituencies. Perhaps it is then easier to rig the outcome. After all, in the 1999 general elections, the BJP and its allies won 34 out of the 45 Lok Sabha constituencies which had EVMs. On that ratio, the NDA should have won 405 se ats of the 544 Lok Sabha constituencies and not 292. EVMs have to be programmed by an engineer to tabulate the votes in its memory. It can easily be programmed to transfer votes of one candidate to another, or one party to another. The EVMs are entirely unsafeguarded today. I suspect it was rigged in the 1999 general elections.
The RSS game plan is thus ready. Only the D-Day for the blitzkrieg is to be determined. Since it appears that the RSS has already been generating momentum on religious fundamentalist issues (for example, Gujarat's Ram temple) and raised the fanatical emo tional temperature (chasing of Christian missionaries), my guess is that this campaign will be taken to a fever pitch by November 9, 2001 (the 1986 date for shilanyas) and then mid-term elections will be called.
Prime Minister Vajpayee will as usual waffle and wobble, but he will not resist. That is his nature; he is a mask for the RSS, as Commissar Govindacharya had once said.
Of course, the good news is that the game plan can fail. I live on the hope that in India, no well-laid plan ever works. India, after all, is a functioning anarchy. That has been the undoing of every attempt to straitjacket its society. That is why we ar e still the longest continuing unbroken civilisation of over 10,000 years. The RSS is, luckily, our counter-culture. The vibrations of Mother India will, I hope, be its undoing.