When the rest of the world is discussing war, GDP and jobs, in India we are talking about beef and cow, its urine and dung. If ever we needed proof that Hindutva is out of sync with reality, modernity and sanity, this is it. And if you thought Hindutva was the worst thing to happen to Indian politics, think again. Far worse is "competitive Hindutva" which is plunging it into the pits. Fishing for votes, politicians stoop to unimaginable depths. After all, this is India. "We are like this only."
The Hindutva brigade should give up their anti-conversion campaign. After all, they are the biggest beneficiaries of conversion. Not only have they converted the great Indian middle class to their way of thinking, they have even converted the venerable old Congress party! Converting friends and fence-sitters to their beliefs is credit enough, but converting historical foes is surely remarkable. Till now the BJP was the wannabe Congress. Now we have the Congress morphing into a BJP wannabe. Or maybe the Congress will cleverly swallow the BJP by adapting and assimilating its agenda in the manner that enabled Hinduism to survive through the centuries whenever it was under siege.
So there is Madhya Pradesh's Congress CM Digvijay Singh extolling the virtues of Mother Cow and her amber ambrosia. And we thought Diggy boy was the face of modern India! A man who believed in secularism and good governance. Now we know he has greater faith in cow urine—if not its curative powers, certainly its vote-catching lure. Morarji Desai lived in excellent health for 100 years ostensibly because he drank his own urine—and he was only an ordinary mortal. If Diggy lives 200 years, we'll know why though none of us will be around to celebrate this miracle.
From urine to uranium is a short hop. So too from MP to Rajasthan, also a Congress-ruled state facing elections. Don't be surprised if CM Ashok Gehlot, in the new spirit of competitive Hindutva, starts praising the hitherto unknown virtues of cow dung. He could usurp the cause of R.S. Gupta, UP State Cow Protection Commission chairman, who claims "houses with an outer coating of cow dung could be the safest place to be in during a nuclear attack". Gupta says there is evidence to support his theory in Hindu scriptures. How are these guys different from the jehadi devils who quote the Quran to kill? For scientific endorsement, UP animal husbandry minister L.K. Bajpai is now sending cow dung samples to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. I wish I was making this up. With Pokhran II and a border with Pakistan, Rajasthan more than any other state has reason to think matters nuclear. That they should be thinking of drought, literacy, child marriage, disease and endemic poverty is another matter. But if the Congress were to sing paeans on the protective powers of dung in a N-attack, surely it will strike a chord among voters. Stealing issues from the VHP to swell its arsenal of competitive Hindutva?
While the rest of the world is striving to do away with capital punishment, the Hindutva brigade wants the death penalty for Indians who slaughter cows. It doesn't matter that people die of cold, hunger and preventable diseases, they insist the government should sanction a special budget of Rs 500 crore to protect cows. Cows are venerated—nobody denies that. Hindus don't eat beef, not out of compulsion but voluntarily. But the sacred cow's place is in religion, mythology and rituals, not in modern-day politics. If they really wanted to protect cows, the VHP should clean up our neighbourhood garbage dumps so that the abandoned, famished urban cows of India don't wind up swallowing plastic bags so painfully fatal to them. But then who said this is about protecting cows. It's all about ratcheting up emotions to win votes.One can't blame Hindutvawadis or their Congress clones for fabricating issues to get votes. One can only blame foolish voters who fall prey to such hypocritical, absurd political campaigns.
The Congress converts have imbibed other Hindutva lessons as well—such as spreading lies to corner the victim into denying something he never was guilty of. So they spread the canard that the liberal Hindu, Atal Behari Vajpayee, eats beef. Had this been true, he could perhaps have said he was being a true Brahmin in the ancient tradition. But the poor man, like most Hindus, doesn't eat beef. Cut to the bone, a wounded PM and his party worked overtime to shrug off the unfair label. Welcome to the club!
Pro-BJP supporters used to lambast the Congress for pandering to the Muslims to get votes: the Shah Bano case, declaring Urdu an official language or Prophet Mohammad's birthday a holiday were the sticks they beat the Congress with. But the Hindutvawadis' diabolical games now make the Congress antics of yore seem like childplay. The ruthless cynicism of the Sangh's electoral politics, evident in MP's 'Bhojshala stir', bears this out. Suddenly, a new Hindu outfit wants to "liberate" this temple a la Ayodhya, stirring communal tensions, provoking police action. Suddenly we have curfews, bandhs and riots. An issue is blown up to manufacture tension and polarise communities with the sole aim of winning votes. What can be more diabolical than this? None of this has anything to do with temples or cows, the divine or the bovine. It's Indian politicians stooping to the depths to conquer. If only we weren't like this.