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Ashrams, maths, akhadas of Varanasi "never produced" leaders who gained notoriety for hate speeches

By Nachiketa Desai*
Anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal’s prospects of trouncing Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi in Varanasi brightened further today when leading litterateurs, theatre artistes and academics jointly appealed to the voters to defeat ‘communal fascist’ Modi to save this holy city’s legacy of Sufi saints Kabir, Tulsi and Raidas. The appeal was made at a one-day ‘Anti-communal fascist convention’ held in the premises of Kabir Math from where the fifteenth century weaver-turned-saint had spread the message of Hindu-Muslim unity through his couplets written in the local Bhojpuri dialect.
“The country faces a grave threat to its secular and democratic Constitution from communal and fascist Narendra Modi and BJP,” warned speaker after speaker at the convention.
A group of artistes from the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) started the convention, called by the Progressive Writers’ Association, by singing songs written by Kabir exhorting the people to bury their parochial religious difference and work for the greater good of humanity.
“Do not let your votes get divided. Vote for the candidate who can defeat Modi,” said Kashinath Singh, well-known Hindi novelist. “Fascist and communal forces have invaded this city in the same manner as they had invaded Ayodhya in 1992. These forces want to shatter peace and the legacy of communal harmony inherited from saints Kabir, Tulsidas, Raidas and great Hindustani novelist Munshi Premchand,” he warned.
He emphasized that though Kashi is famous pilgrimage centre of Hindus, it has never been a bastion of fanatic Hindutva. There are many Ashrams, Maths and Akhadas here and yet this holy city has never produced a Togadia, a Modi or a Ramdev (all the three have gained notoriety through their hate speeches). Hardcore Hindutva elements have always been planted from outside, particularly during elections. Whenever these fanatic forces have won elections, they have done so by polarizing people on communal lines,” elaborated Kashinath Singh.
He said the supporters of Modi do not allow opponents to talk and interact with people, do not allow them to enter lanes and bylanes and if they dare to enter the lane, they are beaten up black and blue. “And if the opponent belongs to the minority community he is told that this is not your country, leave the country. This is the democracy of Modi model,” he said. “If this is the scenario when he is not the prime minister, one can imagine what would happen if he becomes the prime minister,” he warned.
Former inspector general of police and vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Hindi University Vibhuti Narain Rai said Modi was a great threat to our country’s secular democracy based on fraternity, harmony and freedom. “The day India becomes a Hindu nation, the process of disintegration of the country will start,” he warned. “We have remained a unified country for the last 67 years only because we are a secular state,” he added. “Modi’s victory would mean the defeat of Kashi of Kabir, Tulsi and Raidas.”
Professor Roop Rekha Verma appealed to people to defeat Modi who was indulging in politics of hatred and said the worst form of fascism was communal fascism. She said Modi’s political moves amply showed that he was an autocratic person who did not believe even in internal democracy of his own party. “Modi is trying to propagate that he has the divine right to rule, just as in the dark ages a king used to say that the god had ordained him to rule,” said. “He is not saying that his party had asked him to contest but instead he is saying that he is contesting because mother Ganga has asked him,” she said.
Others who spoke at the convention included Professor Deepak Mallik, former director of the Gandhian Institute of Studies and veteran journalist Shitala Prasad Singh from Ayodhya.
Later in the evening, the participants took out a procession through the main road of the city.
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*Senior journalist currently in Varanasi



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