I forced myself to watch the video that is now viral; you must watch it too. A man films himself beating another man to death in broad daylight, with what looks like an axe, then he sets the man on fire and declares, “This will be the fate of all ‘love jihadis’”. He counsels Hindu women not to fall for “love jihadis” and also says, “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Jai Hind”.
I blame Nehru. Not just Nehru, but also Gandhi, Patel, Ambedkar and Maulana Azad, among many others. I am not joking. I am now convinced that these people held India and Indians back from becoming what they could have become much earlier, what Indians were always slowly but surely destined to become. We are now on our way to fulfilling our destiny, but if not for these gentlemen, we would not have had to wait so long.
Gandhi believed India belongs to everyone equally, and there is no one superior religion or way of life. He literally died for this belief. Nehru and, believe it or not ,Patel loved Gandhi, and often turned to him for counsel. After Gandhi’s death, Patel said “We did not follow him when he was alive; let us at least follow his steps now that he is dead.” Within two months of Gandhi’s death, Patel had a heart attack, which he attributed to the “grief bottled up” due to Gandhi’s death. Nehru spent his entire life insisting on pluralism and secularism. Ambedkar spent his fighting not only caste, but insisting that every human being was equal. He gave us a Constitution which embodies this principal. It is therefore clear that the foundation stones of our nation held us back from becoming what we will now become — a Hindu Pakistan.
Imagine, instead, that a grouping of a majoritarian mentality, say the RSS, had instead been in charge of India from Day One. Religion would have been at the centre of our lives in every way. Their name is Pakistan; ours would have been ‘Punyasthaan’. There, children are radicalised early? Here, there would have been as many shakhas as there are milk shops. Our children would have grown up learning about Golwalkar and Godse, and training with swords, trishuls and, god-willing, guns too. Every child would have known the Gita by heart, and children would have said “Jai Shri Ram” instead of “good morning”.
Punyasthaan would have no place for anyone other than Hindus and thus there would be no social strife whatsoever. No wait, but Muslims are murdering each other over religion in Pakistan, aren’t they? No, let me think more about this one. Rana Pratap would not have had to wait for over 400 years to be declared the victor of the battle of Haldighati. There would have been a Yogi Adityanath in every state. Every citizen would have enjoyed their basic right – to violence. Every morning in school assemblies, children would have pledged never to let another Babur invade this country again. Even in 2017, we would have been able to comfortably live in the 15th century.
But all is not lost. I think many Indians no longer feel shackled. It is now time that one per cent of the country stops pretending that we are a civilised, modern, progressive nation. No, we no longer need to rein in our bloodlust; there are plenty of reasons justifying murder freely available — travelling with cows, owning cows, eating beef, inter-faith marriage, and more. In a state election, one party is trying to scare voters by spreading the rumour that a Muslim might become chief minister if citizens voted for a certain party. The national spokesperson of the party in power in the state is accusing Rahul Gandhi of being a bhakt of Babur, a 16th century king, and a relative of Allaudin Khilji, whose reign stretched across the 13th and 14th centuries. The message is clear, and it isn’t about either Babur or Khilji, but to wink-nudge claim that Rahul Gandhi is a Muslim. We live in a time when calling someone a murderer boosts and calling someone a Muslim diminishes their chances of electoral success. Free of our shackles, India is now more willing to accept murderers than it is to embrace anyone who is non-Hindu.
In another state election, an Indian politician declares that there will be celebrations in Pakistan if a certain party, comprising Indians, wins. Which party was in power when Bangladesh was born? Which party was in power during most military conflicts faced by India? Which party has been in power for most of our history, and yet we have managed to somehow not be mortgaged to Pakistan? But no one is pretending that the sentence had anything to do with Pakistan.
Unless you live in denial or are complicit, it is clear that a project is on to reduce Muslims to second-class citizenship, to ensure that it is a matter of shame to be in India and not be Hindu. When this happens, we will realise our true destiny and become who we were always meant to be – a nation of bloodthirsty religious fundamentalists. We will have finally overcome the efforts of our founding fathers to hold us back.
In India after Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha notes political scientist Robert Dahl predicting in 1947 that it was highly improbable that India would be able to sustain democratic institutions for long. He quotes British journalist Don Taylor writing in 1969 that it was incredible that a nation could emerge despite multiple religions, races and languages. It is often asked – what have governments done in the last 70 years? I have at least a part of the answer: They have held us back. But no more. We will prevail.
An edited version of this Article was first published in Mumbai Mirror