The seven hundred and odd pages long proposed constitution for the Hindu Rashtra,to emerge out of the ashes of our present constitution,has been dismissed as a joke by our secular media and enlightened public analysts.But are they being too complacent and a little rash,perhaps? The actual responses of the communally fired,divided masses cannot be predicted so confidently.Already we have some local BJP leaders remarking brashly that life-termers released from serving long sentences for the heinousness of their crimes in the BILKIS BANO CASE,deserved this extraordinary remission as Brahmans with their ‘samskaras’ in conduct,and some years ago a sitting judge of the Kerala High Court pronouncing in public that Brahmins by their innate superiority deserved to lead society,we seem to have moved away far enough from our constitutional principles and closer to the ‘Varna” ideal upheld by Hindu sadhus and sants as the guiding principle of their empery.And when we recall that very recently the police explained their lenient treatment of sadhus who had called for extermination of Muslims to the trial court with the plea that the offenders were ”highly respected public figures”,we already seem to have wandered into a legal wonderland where old constitutional ideas are put on their heads.
If in 2024 there is a repeat performance of 2014 and 2019,there may well be a vigorous demand for scrapping of our old constitution in favour of a new one.And who knows the sadhus’ draft might then be consulted as an exemplar of pure native wisdom uncontaminated by Western impurities.After all already in the nineties LK Advani was mooting ‘a second republic’. Following that there had been occasional salvos from BJP and RSS ranks in favour a proper Indian constitution.This is not a passing concern but very much an impending nightmare.
Not that our constitution is perfect or that there had not been in it some forced alliances between ideal aspirations and stubborn realities.Come to think of it the fundamental and sacred ideal of equality sits uneasily with a society shot through with dark and extremely resistant caste institutions and prejudices,and the idea of unfettered liberty is hemmed in by entrenched vested interests of centuries.There is little in the constitution to purge those stubborn impediments to its aims.Yet any day we shall prefer it to any proposed potent concoction of supposedly time-tested principles of hierarchical solidarity for masses and unencumbered liberty of oligarchs,however hallowed with Vedic chants.
Obviously for most readers of Countercurrents and similar portals as well as liberal media such a demand is unacceptable. But they will not go so far as to say that reasonable criticism of the constitution in terms of the very ideals it serves should be ruled out of court.
Likewise with our great leaders.All their achievements and virtues notwithstanding,the heroes of independent India are not to be worshipped like the graven images of the Bible.Time and circumstances bring to light some of their serious mistakes.Gandhijee was surely mistaken in marrying Muslim demand for Khilafat(the sovereign power of Caliphate over the Muslim world) and the Indians’ natural aspiration for freedom from colonial rule.Though expedient in galvanising the masses of both faiths the unity came unstuck at a certain point in bitter mutual wrangling and a residue of ill-will.Though Jawaharlal Nehru deserved plaudits for his visionary leadership in trying to lift India up with its bootstraps through planning,surely the increasing centralisation of fateful decisions has come at a heavy cost and the relative marginalization of agriculture at the grassroots has hamstrung the process of actual development.Subhash Chandra Bose was a towering figure with burning patriotic zeal but his alliance with the Japanese fascists appears to have also been a rash miscalculation.And so on and so forth.But such necessary criticism,underscoring concern,need not be conflated with total rejection.
No.Even if we have a few resevations about our present constitution we can never junk it in favour of any elaborate upstart blueprint for robbing us of basic freedoms and hard-earned rights as citizens,however dressed in scriptural pieties.And the sadhus’ have got to be recalled to their proper stations and told not to meddle in public affairs of citizens.
Hiren Gohain is a political commentator