March 17, 2009

Varun Gandhi Targets Muslims, BJP Shocked

If anyone raises a finger towards Hindus then I swear on the Gita that I will cut that hand, says Varun

Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh): The strident communal overtones of the campaign being run by Varun Gandhi has left his own party (BJP) workers shocked.

The 29-year-old son of Maneka and late Sanjay Gandhi is contesting his maiden Lok Sabha election from Pilibhit constituency. Maneka Gandhi gave up the seat to ensure his easy entry into the Lok Sabha.

On Sunday Varun was issued a notice by the district authorities in Pilibhit. What came as a shocker is his staunchly pro-Hindu and rabid anti-Muslim vitriolic that his opponents and supporters say could trigger a communal clash.

From taking up issues like the ban on cow slaughter to asking a Sikh leader to leave a Hindu meeting, Varun has been ruffling feathers everywhere.

Though just one offensive remark captured by a TV channel drew the attention of the local authorities, the scion of the estranged Gandhi family has been busy making such statements all over Pilibhit.

While "Jai Shri Ram" is his battle-cry at all roadside meetings or assemblies, some of the other slogans being used are "Gau hatya rukwana hai, Varun Gandhi ko jitana hai" (Cow slaughter must stop, Varun Gandhi must win) and "Varun nahin yeh aandhi hai, doosra Sanjay Gandhi hai (Varun Gandhi is like a storm, he is another Sanjay Gandhi)".

Varun has already addressed three 'Hindu sammellans'. While the district administration has taken cognizance of his utterances at a meet in Barkhera on March 8, those at earlier meetings in Dalchand on March 6 and at Lalori Khera locality on February 22 have almost gone unnoticed.

On March 6, he said at the Dalchand meeting - "Agar kissi galat tatv ke aadmi ne, kisi Hindu pe haath uthaya ya hinduon ke upar yeh samajh key ki yeh kamzor hain, unke peeche koi nahi hai... hinduon ke upar haath uthaya, mein geeta ki kasam khake kehta hoon ki mein uss haath ko kaat daaloonga. (If somebody lifts a hand against Hindus, or thinks they are weak, there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the (Bhagvad) Gita that I will cut off that hand)".

It has left even leaders who are working for his victory flabbergasted.

"I am a BJP activist and a Hindu too. But I am not in favour of launching a communally charged campaign. If Varun Gandhi persists with such style of campaigning, I would be compelled to keep myself away from it," a popular BJP leader in Puranpur, Naresh Verma told IANS.

"Varun is going out of hand. If he is not restrained, this election could end in a bloody communal clash," added another BJP veteran Gurdial Singh.

The 70-year-old Sikh from Ramnagar village was even asked to leave one of the Hindu meets being addressed by Varun.

"He neither has respect for any other religion nor even for elders. In his arrogance, he has gone to the extent of forgetting that his mother was also a Sikh before her marriage," Gurudial said.

If the BJP is alarmed, other parties are determined to ensure that this stops.

"We have audio-recordings of the provocative language used by Varun Gandhi to run down Muslims," claimed a local Samajwadi Party leader, Haroon Ahmad.

"We have been restraining our people from retaliating because that will lead to a clash, but how long can we stop people from reacting?" he asked.

Varun's Congress rival VM Singh said he was "going to make a detailed complaint in this regard to the Election Commission".

"I have been gathering all the evidence against him so far but now I am going to make a written complaint," Singh added.

"The highly objectionable slang used by Varun in his reference to Muslims could just spark off a violent communal clash here."


Sheela Reddy, "A Brahmin's Cow Tales,", September 17, 2001

[It was equally convenient to blame the intrusion of Islam into India for Hinduism's fallen state, even for the caste system, and to describe Hindus as slaves of Muslim tyrants: a terrible fate from which the British had apparently rescued them in order to prepare their path to a high stage of civilisation.--Pankaj Mishra, "How the British invented Hinduism,", August 26, 2002]

Rama Lakshmi, "Hindus Detail Involvement In Deadly '02 Riots in India On Video, Assailants Tell of State Collusion," Washington Post, October 26, 2007

[India is seen as a shining example of a secular state but in reality the Indian state actually privileges Hinduism over other religions and religious communities.--Omar Khalidi, "Why India Is Not A Secular State," Outlook India, January 29, 2009]

[Global Muslim communities urgently need to condemn the agenda of political Islam that distorts religious scriptures to legitimise violence. This ideology of Islamism is threatening to replace a moderate and spiritual Islam, leading to the destruction of many societies and, in particular, oppression of women and minorities.--Sadia Dehlvi, "Build The Peace Consensus," Times of India, March 17, 2009]

["All the Hindus stay on this side and send the others to Pakistan." Raising a palm, he said his hand was the "Lotus hand" - a reference to the symbol of the BJP - and said that after the election "it will cut their throats".--Andrew Buncombe, "Nehru heir under fire for 'anti-Muslim rant'," Independent, March 18, 2009]

[India's main opposition party has said it will stand by a great-grandson of the country's first prime minister in forthcoming elections, even after an independent body found him guilty of hate crime and urged that he not be fielded as a candidate.--Andrew Buncombe, "Nehru descendant guilty of Muslim hate crime," Independent, March 24, 2009]

[The attacks are part of what many see as rising Hindu extremism in much of the country over the past few years, . . .

The growing extremism has sparked a national debate - especially with national elections this month - over what has become known by the Indian media and analysts as the "Talibanization of India." It features a rise of moral policing and an increasingly active constellation of Hindu right-wing groups that believe in a politicized form of religion known as Hindutva.--Emily Wax, "A Rising Anger in India's Streets: Hindu Extremists Lash Out Against Symbols of Change," Washington Post, May 1, 2009]

Andrew Buncombe, "Tribunals set up to examine slaughter of Indian Muslims: Politician tipped to be next PM investigated for his role in 2002 sectarian riots," Indpendent, May 2, 2009

[At the heart of the soul-searching is how the party responded to an anti-Muslim speech by a young member, Varun Gandhi, during the campaign. Gandhi, an estranged member of the dynasty that has dominated the Congress party, is alleged to have said in a campaign speech that he would cut off the hands of any Muslim who harmed a Hindu.

That landed Gandhi in prison for a few weeks, but the BJP stood solidly behind him even after India's Election Commission reprimanded him. . . .

Some party members have questioned the number of campaign meetings addressed by one of its controversial leaders, Narendra Modi, who is accused of abetting sectarian violence that left more than 1,000 Muslims dead in the western state of Gujarat in 2002.--Rama Lakshmi, "India's Hindu Party Reflects on Election Drubbing," Washington Post, May 18, 2009]

[The greatest failure of Indian foreign policy has been an inability to understand how Britain, a small country of 60 million, was able to control 600 million Indians and colonise India for 200 years. Or for that matter, how Portugal with a populace of 3 million was able to colonise part of China, the most populous nation in the world, by annexing Macao. It was the age old policy of divide and rule. The sub-continent is a multifaceted society with boundaries of religion, caste, class, language, and much as we are divided, we are united by a common inheritance. This is what needs to be emphasised.--J Jayasundera, "A case for Asian unity -- Lesson from Sri Lanka,", January 13, 2010]

[How have Muslims fared under such secularism, equidistant or group-sensitive? In 2006, the government-appointed Sachar Commission found that of the 138 million Muslims in India, numbering some 13.4 per cent of the population, less than three out of five were literate, and one out of three were among the most destitute layers of Indian society. A quarter of their children between the ages of 6 and 14 were not in school In the top fifty colleges of the land, two out of a hundred post- graduates were Muslim; in the elite Institutes of Technology. four out of a hundred. In the cities, Muslims had fewer chances of any regular job than Dalits or Adivasis, and higher rates of unemployment. . . .

Put simply, Muslims are not wanted - in their ranks, the fewer the better. In 1999, a former Defence Minister let slip that they numbered just one per cent out of 1,100,000 regulars. In the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) - the CIA and FBI of the Indian State - it is an 'unwritten code' that there should be not a single Muslim; so too in the National Security Guards and Special Protection Group, its Secret Service corps. The Indian armed forces at large are a Hindu preserve, garnished with Sikhs, and bolstered still - a unique arrangement in the post-colonial world - by Gurkhas from Nepal, as under the Raj.--Perry Anderson, "The Indian Ideology," Verso (November 5, 2013) p 140-143]

[The World Before Her is a tale of two Indias. In one, Ruhi Singh is a small-town girl competing in Bombay to win the Miss India pageant--a ticket to stardom in a country wild about beauty contests. In the other India, Prachi Trivedi is the young, militant leader of a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls, where she preaches violent resistance to Western culture, Christianity and Islam.--"The World Before Her," PBS POV, 2013

[The irony is that, as a commentator on the Dharmashastras points out, though the cow was sacred in Vedic times, it was this that allowed for beef to be consumed. There are references in the Rig Veda, in the Dharmashastric literature, the Taittiriya Brahmana ('Verily, the cow is food') and the Vajasaneyi Samhita that support the contention of beef being eaten at the time. The historian D. N. Jha has pointed out dozens of examples to prove that the Rig Veda is full of allusions to the slaughter and consumption of cows. Ancient lawgivers, Manu included, appear to grant sanction for the slaughter and consumption of cow meat. The great sage and law-giver Yajnavalkya (of the Upanishads) is quoted as saying, on the subject of, whether beef should be eaten: 'I, for one, eat it, provided that it is tender'.--Shashi Tharoor, "Why I Am A Hindu," Scribe US; US edition (October 2, 2018), page 234]

"Appropriating Mahatma Gandhi: Congress vs Sangh?" NDTV, October 4, 2019

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