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Friday, September 28, 2007

INDIA - Will Lord Ram again bring back BJP government?

Will Lord Ram again bring back BJP government?

By M.S.Shah Jahan

"Party workers should be prepared for an early poll to the Lok Sabha. Left parties' opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal and Tamil Nadu's ruling party's attempt to destroy Ram Sethu would bring a radical change in the Indian politics”. Advani claimed that the Lok Sabha polls could take place in 2008. Lashing out at the Centre for questioning the existence of Lord Ram in an affidavit before the Supreme Court, he said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi should apologise for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.

The Congress government that has been batting - or battling against the Left parties over the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear deal, all of a sudden finds itself trapped before the arrow wielding Lord Ram.

To Mr. Advani this is a Ram sent golden opportunity and he lambasted the government in Tinnevelly and Bhopal like Yuvaraj Singh hit sixers after sixers in Durban, and Cape Town. The way Communists are confronting with the center, accused of being instigated by China and Russia, it is believed by many that the government will face an election in summer 2008 instead of 2009.

The Marxists argue that the nuclear deal is less favourable to India and more to US. But one has ample reasons to wonder whether the indigenous Congress is less patriotic than the foreign doctrine Marxists who decorate their office with pictures of Lenin and Carl Marx not Gandhi and Nehru. The intensive campaign carried out by the Left by organizing road shows and rallies right from Bengal to Kerala made people wonder whether they are in the opposition. They also sent their best known faces to countless TV stations to articulate the Left’s point of view on the matter.

The latest in this tidal red wave is, the upcoming compilation of the CPM General Secretary’s articles and views on the nuclear deal in the form of a book. Marxists are masters in propaganda by nature. But the government’s response to Left propaganda is lukewarm.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad along with allied Hindu groups succeeded in primarily bringing the Ram issue to the centre stage of national politics, by showing force across the country and causing complete disruption of traffic and daily life in most cities. The true beneficiary of this agitation is undoubtedly the BJP, which having tasted electoral success after the Babri Masjid demolition and the Godhra massacre and the ensuing riots, once again wants to bring Hindutuva – on which it finds itself more comfortable, rather than raising issues like cost of living, flood relief, corruption and jobless when it goes to the electorate.

Having used the potent mix of religion and pseudo-secularism the BJP feels now the Ram Sethu issue will help in uniting the Hindu vote to rally behind the party.

On the day the whole country was witnessing an agitation on this very issue, the government, through the Archeological Survey of India told the Supreme Court that the Ram Sethu was not a man made structure and that there was no proof of the existence of the mythological figure of Lord Ram except in some texts, by making it far more emotive than what a one day agitation would have otherwise done.

The BJP is raking up this statement as an example of the disregard by the UPA for the largest religious block in the country, but with elections at least 6 to 18 months away, how relevant this issue will remain is debatable. It seems the largest opposition block is looking for divine intervention for its quest for power. They have succeeded earlier, will they now is yet to be seen. What is Tamilnadu Chief Minister M.Karunanithi’s contribution to this squabble? In a way he is the one who let this controversy go deeper. Sethu Samuthram Project is more or less DMK’s life time goal.

While keep telling that the bridge is defined officially as Adam’s Bridge, in an angry mood, he crossed the mark saying, ‘there was no historic proof of Lord Ram's existence.

There was also no proof of Lord Ram having constructed a bridge and being an expert in engineering. You tell me whether Rama lived. There was no person in the name of Lord Ram’. This made the slumbering BJP dog to stand up like a horse. Karunanithi is an atheist by nature being a follower of E.V. Ramasamy Nayakkar, known as Thantahi [Father] Periyaar, who declared that those who believed in god were fools. He considered the Ram epic as a symbol of North India’s Aryan domination over Southern Dravidans. He held Ram processions where he hit Lord Ram’s statue with slippers. Actor M.R. Radha, father of Annamalai fame actress Radhika of a Singhalese mother, was too an ardent follower of Periyaar and he staged many dramas, propagating Periyaar’s progressive thoughts, condemning superstitions and age old customs and rituals, including one drama called ‘Keemayanam’ that despised the mythology of Ramayanam.

When reporters asked Karunanithi whether his vote bank would be affected because of Ram issue, he replied ” in the general election after the demise of Annadurai, Periyaar, in the hands of whom Ram suffered a lot, supported us and we won with big majority”. Besides, Ramayana has many versions and contradictions but what wrote by Valmiki is accepted as the best. Funnily one Ramayana says Lord Ram’s father King Dasaratha had 10,000 wives. Oh Ram, is it feasible? If so how did he divide his time for 10,000 nights of 27 years? India is a country in which still many in rural areas are ignorant that Mrs. Indira Gandhi had died, as per a survey some time ago. When it is so, how can we expect people from North India, 3,000 miles away, to know about the coast that could be stretched to Lanka thousands of years ago? How many days Lord Ram’s travel group would have taken to reach the place under primitive travel condition? From where did they bring the necessary materials and laborers? Could Hindi speaking Northerners have interacted with Tamil only speaking workmen? In Hindi there is a slang ‘doing Lanka’ – means burning.

Ramayanam says Lord Hanuman burnt Lanka with fire in his tail, and also the followers argue that in Sri Lanka there is a place called ‘Sita Vanam’ [forest] where Sita Devi was kept in isolation. It could be. But in Lanka there is no trace of being burnt by Lord Hanuman. Another question arises that King Ravana who is described to be pious and ardent devotee of Lord Siva, will immorally abduct another man’s wife?

Amulya Ganguli a political analyst wrote in the New Delhi News Net on the 22nd instant, that Ram Sethu issue could lead to Hindu vs Hindu clashes. ‘”The BJP's Ayodhya agitation was based on the propagation of the belief that the Mughal emperor, Babur, had built the Babri Masjid at the site where Lord Ram was born. Similarly, the Ram Sethu issue is based on the conviction that this 'natural formation' comprising coral reefs and sand banks, which is also known as the Adam's bridge in the Palk Strait, is the mythical bridge built by Ram's simian militia when the Hindu deity went to Sri Lanka to rescue his abducted wife, Sita, from the demon king Ravana. There is no Muslim involvement here Romila Thapar, well-known historian in her book 'Early India', says that 'the conflict between Ram and Ravana probably reflects an exaggerated version of local conflicts, occurring between expanding kingdoms of the Ganges plain and the less sedentary societies of the Vindhyan region ... the transference of events to a more southerly location may have been the work of editors (of the Ramayana) of a later period, reflecting an expanded geography, as was possibly also the case in the depiction of Lanka itself as a city of immense wealth'.

Even Vajpayee government took up Sethusamudram project with the insistence of Vaiko and the DMK. Though no fund was allocated, papers were readied and in no place it mentioned that the bridge built by Lord Ram should be spared. There was plenty of stone throwing that tensed the country, between both sides especially from the DMK front and the BJP, the party once late minister Maran described as ‘not untouchable’ before joining their cabinet, which has become untouchable now. The Center’s decision to withdraw affidavit from the court clearly showed their reluctance to burn the candle in both sides that is with the Marxist on nuclear issue and the BJP on Ram. But Lord Ram has not let down the Congress too.

The Left is now softening its stance on nuclear issue fearing an immediate election might give a swing to BJP. Therefore they have become the spokesmen for Sethusamudram project and demand it should go on regardless to any objection from any back ward quarter. Responding to a statement by Mr. Advani over possible mid-term polls, Mr. Prakash Karat, General Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) said. “Advani has a direct connection with divinity. The general elections would be held in 2009 only”. This angered Advani and he in turn attacks the Left too mercilessly. The BJP leader, who wanted the destruction of a Mosque to win an election, now wants a groundless bridge to be restored to win election. In the mean time Tamilnadu government has declared a full day strike on Monday 1st October to show the state’s solidarity on Sethu Samuthram demand.

The Congress is also aware that the community of scientists and historians will be outraged if the party endorses the saffron brotherhood's assertion that the 1.7 million-year-old 'bridge' is man-made - or monkey-made. All the religions have some revered beliefs - miracles that can not stand scientific tests. To believe or not is one’s contention. But it is not one’s business of pushing it down others' throats.

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