Culture & Society

Political Machinations of Hindutva

Ram Puniyani

Film Review

(Film: Saffron War by Rajiv Yadav, Shahanawaz Alam and Lakshman Prashad, Duration 61 Minutes, Contribution, Rs 95, Available from: 632/13, Shankarpuri, Kamta, Post: Chinhat, Lucknow, UP)

With the rise of Hindutva movement during last three decades there has also been an attempt to understand this phenomenon through analytic essays, articles and films. These films have also served the purpose of spreading the awareness about the rising threat of communal politics, and dangers to national integration due to the rising communal tide in the society. The Mumbai violence, Gujarat genocide, Kandhmal amongst others has been the object of serious study and analysis amongst the activists and scholars. ‘Saffron War: A War against nation’ is the latest in the series of the significant works, which have come out lately. This film is a unique combination of analysis of Hindutva ideology, its cooption of dalits in to communal politics and the gradual manipulation of the low caste movements from their struggle for social justice to their current mobilization in the fold of Hindutva where they are made to believe that the real problems of society are not due to the caste structure but the external one coming form Muslim minorities.

This film is made in the backdrop of Gorakhpur, where Yogi Adiyanath, A BJP MP has been spreading his tentacles in a very aggressive way. The film’s major contribution is to show as to how Gorakhnath Math has been gradually been shifted away from its struggle against caste oppression, how its focus on intercommunity amity has been shifted away to hatred for the minorities. The film through different interviews and visuals shows us the spread of venom against minorities. The language used by the Yogi and his followers comes under the category of ‘Hate Speech’, which is going on in the open fashion. All the prejudices and biases against minorities, Muslims in particular, are being openly asserted in the public meetings where not only are the Muslims presented in the negative light but also violence is openly propagated and promoted. The imaginary fear of minorities is projected and all the propagation of violence is done in the name of ‘Defense of Hindu religion’. The degree of aggression in the language is shocking to say the least. In many a meetings when these hateful speeches are being made, even the police is standing as the passive listeners, unmindful of the fact that such hate speech should invite strong legal action.

The major mobilization is done in the name of Yogi Adityanath and the majority of people who are mobilized and co-opted are dalits and OBCs. They begin with Savarkar’s definition of Hinduva and Hindu Rashtra is made the base of Hate other propaganda. This goes on to say that Muslims have to be relegated to second class citizenship. They cite the example of Pakistan to spread this hate. Yogi’s propaganda further adds that Muslims’voting rights have to be taken away. Gorakhpur and surrounding areas must be one of the few places where Savarkar is quoted so blatantly in the anti minority tirade.  The emphasis on converting UP in to Gujarat through Uttaranchal comes up regularly. On the lines of Bajrang Dal, there is formation of Arya Veer Sena and Hindu Yuva Vahini giving the training to youth in the use of arms, with Har Har Mahadev as the war cry.

The film brings out clearly as to how the earlier Bharat Milap procession in this area symbolized Hindu Muslim brother hood, but now it has been converted into the occasion where anti Muslim sentiments are invoked. This has seriously intimidated the Minorities in the area. The role of these forces in the Mau riots of 2005 is well brought out in this film.

While the film does well to focus on the core points of Savarkar ideology and cooption, Sanskrtisation of dalits, there is a need to link up this with the overall Hindutva politics of the country. The link between Savarkar and RSS ideology also should have been highlighted. The strong point of the film is to show the political dynamics of conversion of a low caste, syncretic space into the one dominated by Braminical ideology and Hindutva politics. The film does show in a forthright manner, the way in which Hindutva politics builds up. The history of Gorakhnath Math comes out very well along with the fact the communalization process has converted this syncretic spaces into exclusive Hindutva places. It is Gorakhnath Math where Muslims used to throng in large numbers and were welcome there. The scenario is dismal, there is need to develop political, ideological and cultural campaigns against this politics to bring back the issues of caste and gender in to the mainstream of social movements. The need to work for national integration needs to be highlighted in more ways than one.

While the film is a comprehensive study of communalism in Uttaranchal, Gorakhpur in particular, it should have connected a bit more with the National phenomenon. The film does need some technical improvisation.

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