When BJP came to power, many elite in Karnataka celebrated it as a clear mandate for ‘development’. They argued that people did not vote BJP for their Hindutva agenda, and that ‘pseudo-secularists’ (like me), should stop crying wolf each time BJP comes to power.
I maintained my stand back then that it was a clear indication that Karnataka was leaning right- that it was clear that Hindutva has a major role to play than anything else.
After few months of BJP in power, Karnataka is more talibanized than any other state in India. Hindu activists strike wherever they want with impunity, shut up anyone without fear, and terrorize people into submission by their antics which go unpunished. The government stands supporting, condoning and rationalizing these acts.
Yesterday, a small town in Karnataka was not allowed to put up a statue of Charlie Chaplin because he is ‘Christian and not Indian’. A week ago, party goers celebrating at a private farmhouse were arrested for partying and huddled up into vans and held in jail for few days. A few weeks ago, some Hindu activists decided to stop Valentine’s Day celebrations calling it non-Indian. Prior to that some women were harassed, beaten up and stripped because they were indulging in activities such as visiting pubs at night, drinking alcohol and mixing with men, which according to the harassers were all against Great Indian Culture. We also saw moral policing in action, where couples were beaten up because they belonged to different religions. One girl committed suicide because she was humiliated for being seen with a boy of a different religion. Last year, we saw many churches being ransacked and Christians harassed. The government of Karnataka sanctioned money for temples to appease gods. The list goes on.
All those well meaning Hindus who continue to support Hindu parties on the pretext that these parties foster better development projects should wake up and realize that they get much more than what they ask for. They get Taliban, they get Fascism, as unnecessary byproducts. If we were told that Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet brought more economic prosperity than any other regime, would Indians choose Fascism or Communism? Are we ready to forsake our freedoms and enter dictatorships to improve our economic indices?
These are real questions that Indians should answer. Authoritarian governments don’t dilly-dally, they don’t wait for consensus, they take decisions fast, but they also suppress all voices of dissidence, they do not tolerate opposition or criticism. Is that the kind of government we want – a government which induced economic prosperity but which takes away all our freedoms?