Sunday, November 2, 2008

I the Nationalist ; You the Terrorist

The Bharatiya Janata Party president has condemned the hype around the Sadhvi Pragya Singh saying that some one like her was a “cultural nationalist “and not a terrorist. There it seems is a difference and I am trying to break the code. It is a bit convoluted really ….. If you are my kind of person and you kill or maim the kind of people I dislike, then you are a buddy and you are a flag waving nationalist. But if you look different kind of name and look different or worse – dress different and speak a different kind of language, then you are my mortal enemy.

This kind of labeling can get very confusing, for before using the right wording and vocabulary is important before I can place any one. Not only that, once done, people need to constantly be aware of what ideology, people are currently professing and adjust the label accordingly to avoid becoming out of date. To quote just an instance, “nationalists” of yester year like Chagan Bhujbal or Narayan Rane or Shankar Singh Waghela are today not to be mistaken for being one but rather are pseudo secularists today. These changes happen so frequently that one can not always keep track unless one makes the effort. And using the right term could be every thing – terrorists after all deserve death by hanging, and cultural nationalists in all probability an amnesty, immunity from arrest and possibly some award of recognition.

One of the difficulties of electoral politics and democracy even is the divisiveness that the whole exercise brings. And as the elections approach closer, more the name calling and the polarization between religions, states, communities and languages. These then become symbolized based through these nomenclatures and semantics. And so it goes on, though the scars will linger long after the original provocation has come and gone.

And what to make of those who are not even nationalists – those who espouse a base kind of sub nationalism that looks base but obviously has a mass base of a kind that was waiting to be exploited. What would you call the ones lynching their own people because they speak a different language and celebrate a different festival? We protested when a couple of years ago, those who spoke Bengali were indiscriminately chased out and deported without as much a by your leave – particularly Bengalis who were of Muslim – and except for the left front government in West Bengal, the rest of the nation looked on askance. A generation ago it was the South Indians who were similarly the victims.

Although L.K. Advani, the Prime Ministerial aspirant has today said that it is not the role of the police to look at the pedigree of an accused, he could be just acting have is part as the leader of the opposition and elder statesman. Others certainly aren’t so circumspect and the Hindu Maha Sabha and the Shiv Sena have rallied around the cultural nationalist and it is not very different from the various Jammats coming together in the name of Muslim solidarity. While the posturing of both groups of people is unfortunate, it is at least possible to understand the ghetto like thinking of the minority muslim community. But it would appear now that the majority community – not withstanding their huge numbers are just as insecure and juvenile in their responses in classifying different classes of citizens differently.

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