Skip to main content

Learn from organisational skills of BJP-RSS, not their politics, Prof Ghanshyam Shah advises liberals

By Our Representative
In a sharp interview, well-known Gujarat-based academic, Prof Ghanshyam Shah, has said that as liberals, he and others, should learn something from the BJP and the RSS. Talking with news portal scroll.in, the veteran academic, who is also a known critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, “We liberals have to learn a lot from the BJP and RSS – their organisation, ideological clarity, commitment to working for a cause rather than political positions.” He adds, “The BJP connects with people at an emotional level because it is seen as a movement to transform society, not a party trying to win seats in an election.”
Prof Shah underlines, “The BJP and RSS have not built this over a few years – they have been building this since long. They have infiltrated trade unions, jails, schools. Look at how they made inroads into tribal communities.” By way of example, he says, “Now we protest that the BJP is changing textbooks as if it is happening for the first time. The earlier National Democratic Alliance government changed textbooks, then the United Progressive Alliance made changes to those changes, and now we are going back.”
Considering this as failure of the liberal view, Prof Shah says, “Sixty years from now, we will say that liberals failed to develop rational thinking in society. Liberals have reiterated the same idea of nationalism. We liberals have not interrogated the nature of nationalism.” He adds, “We thought that once you have economic development, these forces will automatically be taken care of – caste, religion and others. The national pride we see in India is primarily caste pride or family pride. My nationalism, right or wrong – this was never interrogated by liberals.”
Further pointing to the failure of liberals, Prof Shah says, We have not generated a debate in society. We thought partition was a dark time and we tell ourselves we have recovered from it. But we never recovered from the partition.” Pointing out that the “BJP understands this”, he insists, “The BJP has built this organisation brick by brick”, wondering “Is there an organisation, a liberal group, that is building a movement like the BJP, that is creating a liberal idea of society at every level?”
Suggesting that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), too, is still far away from creating such a movement, Prof Shah says, “It is just new people. They have not applied their mind to this idea of building a movement.” Saying that the rise of the BJP “is less about the BJP than about the Congress”, he underlines, most of the political leaders generally “just want to win elections”, but as for the Congress, it “has lost its will to win elections”
Worse, Prof Shah says, he does not believe that the Congress party, at least in Gujarat, believes in secularism. “They maintain the dominant position here that the Hindu is superior, they believe that Muslims have harassed Hindus. We should note that some Congress politicians were also partisans in the 2002 riots. So, the Congress has not shown itself to be different than the BJP. I think it is incorrect to say that only the BJP is communal”, he adds.
Coming down heavily on Modi, and declaring he has not changed a bit, as many claim, the top academic – who was director, Centre for Social Studies, Surat, and was later at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi – says that many liberals, naively, expected that “Modi would take a stand on the lumpen elements in the BJP, the so-called fringe elements.”
Saying that Modi “did not do this in Gujarat, except checking (Praveen) Togadia and, to some extent, the RSS by refusing to agree to not to introduce English from Class V), Prof Shah explains, “He could oppose the RSS in Gujarat because he was confident about his popularity in the state.” But at this was at the state level; at the national level things are different.
Even Gujarat, he says, “Modi did not stop the Vishwa Hindu Parishad when it went after a fine arts student in Baroda in 2007. The VHP objected to one painting, which it considered insulting to a Hindu goddess. The dean tried to protect the student, but the VHP took the police and the police arrested the student. The dean is suspended till today. There were protests, and yet Modi did nothing. He washe as silent.”
According to Prof Shah, “Modi’s idea of India is still (Veer) Savarkar’s idea of India – that those people whose religion’s founders (Islam and Christianity) were from outside India are not Indian. Arguing against Prof Ashutosh Varshney, who believes that Modi has moderated himself, Prof Shah says, “This is wishful thinking. At least 30% of Modi’s victory is because of the RSS or VHP. People expect Modi to go after the lumpen elements in his party, but did he do this in Gujarat?”
As for Gujarat, even the culture of dissent has diminished, says Prof Shah says, adding, “For example, in 1985, I was one of the editors of a journal and we published an article that was critical of the Swaminarayans. The Gujarat court issued a non-bailable warrant against me and others. At that time, all the major regional newspapers wrote editorials criticising the government and supporting us. Now I cannot think that this support is possible. Today, the space to disagree in Gujarat is almost gone.”

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Despite crisis, Modi's Hindutva strategy 'increased' mass base in society and polity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Narendra Modi and his RSS brethren can qualify as masters of fake claims. There is a long lists of lies spread by RSS, BJP and their IT cell workers. It is not a personality disorder or lying with fear. They are trained to defend Modi and his government’s decisions in whatever possible way. They defended demonetisation by arguing that it is “an important step” in his fight against black money and corruption.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.