Spread of Hindutva worries activist*

`Dramatic inroads into mainstream political system is not to be taken lightly’  Cedric Prakash
Bangalore: The Hindutva ideology’s “dramatic” inroads into Karnataka’s mainstream political system in a short span of time is not to be taken lightly, and civil society here should act swiftly if the State’s slide towards becoming “another Gujarat” is to be stopped, says Cedric Prakash, an outspoken human rights activists from Gujarat and is a Knight of the Legion of Honour, the highest decoration awarded by France.
Speaking to The Hindu during his visit to Bangalore, he said that there were enough indicators of the situation being “very serious” in Karnataka. The Jesuit priest, who hails from Mangalore and is now settled in Gujarat, cites the sequence of events in his native town as an example. “A set of people enter a pub and beat up women with impunity and attack places of worship. The elected Member of Parliament from the same place  describes his victory as `victory of Hindutva’.”
The situation is particularly worrying, says Fr. Prakash, because Karnataka’s social fabric is much more diverse and its cultural scene more egalitarian compared to Gujarat. “The fact that hardcore politics gets mainstreamed so quickly in such an atmosphere makes it even more scary,” he observes, adding that Gujarat, unlike Karnataka, has had a build-up to `saffronisation’ since the late Sixties.
The fact that voices of protest against religious polarisation of society are still loud in Karnataka is a positive sign, concedes Fr. Prakash, but warns that these voices may be silenced very quickly if civil society groups do not consolidate their spaces. “A lie told a hundred times becomes the truth like it has in Gujarat,” says Fr. Prakash, pointing out that an anti-conversion law was implemented in Gujarat though the State has not been able to prove a single instance of forced conversion so far. Similar legislation may be in the offing in Karnataka, he says.
Fr. Prakash says that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had also succeeded in keeping alive the “myth of Vibrant Gujarat” through this mode. Election results in Gujarat, “a personal tragedy for Mr. Modi” though he has won one seat more than in the last elections, show that the “lie” is falling apart. “But Gujarat faces the crisis of not having an alternative political system and leadership,” he adds. Only a broad-based civil society movement focussed on Constitutional rights can save the situation, he believes, be it in Gujarat or Karnataka.
*Bageshree S. http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/24/stories/2009052454190400.htm


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