Five days after the Bharatiya Janata Kazhagam (Bha-Ja-Ka as Bha-Ja-Pa is known in Tamil Nadu) was left unbeaten on 99 in its quest for “Mission 150” in Gujarat, a report on Scroll claimed the RSS had issued a one-page warning to the BJP.
Two sentences in that report stood out:
“Decency of language and behaviour and ideological firmness are our identity,” read the curt message sent to BJP president Amit Shah through Ram Lal, the party’s general secretary in charge of organisation, the day after the result.
“Abrogation of decency is inappropriate and unacceptable, and as such it did not get people’s approval.” (emphasis added)
If such a missive did go out and if it was received, read and relayed, and it is always a big ‘if’ in news stories of this nature where no one is (or can be) named, what does the RSS think of the words tripping off the tongue of its dattu putra, the apple of its eye, Dattatreya Anantkumar Hegde?
The incendiary fifth-term BJP MP from Uttara Kannada is in the news for the wrong reasons yet again, this time for saying at a congregation of Brahmins, that: a) secular people are of doubtful parentage, and b) “We [BJP] are around only to change the Constitution of India; that’s why we have come to power.”
What does the RSS think of the sanskaar of Dattu’s putra, who has been an RSS and ABVP man for virtually all his adult life, and whose website claims that “the ‘sanskaar’ that he received during his childhood days, still takes care (of) and guards his present day life”?
What kind of sanskaar allows this “Mouth ka Saudagar” to spew venom, poison, bigotry, hatred, misogyny, resentment without receiving an intra-office memo on “decency of language and behaviour” like Amit Shah apparently did?
Or, is Hegde’s language and behaviour “appropriate and acceptable”?
Since the Union minister talks of parentage, it may be useful to ask his parents.
Does Anantkumar Hegde’s mother Lalita approve of what her “value-based preachings on ethics and morals” have been reduced to, in the eyes of the people of Karnataka and the people of India, by her darling son?
Sorry, bad question.
In January this year, the MP assaulted three doctors in his pocket borough Sirsi for not responding properly when he took his mother to hospital, thanks to which: a) he wasn’t allowed to step out of his constituency for six months, and b) the Indian Medical Association asked Narendra Modi to reconsider his inclusion in the Union ministry in September.
A better question, perhaps, is: is there a method to the madness?
Is the unhinged verbalisation of the 49-year-old Brahmin, designed to keep the communal cauldron on the boil, his tatkal ticket to the Vidhana Soudha should the BJP come close to its next “Mission 150” in the 2018 assembly elections?
Actually, all this shock and outrage at Hegde’s latest comments on the Constitution is a touch predictable.
For, here is a man who has built his political career, since the Babri masjid demolition of 1992, by being offensive and provocative—and been rewarded by his constituents five times in a row: 1996, 1998, 2004, 2009, 2014.
Hegde’s CV has all the Key Performance Indicators of a first-class Hindutva lab rat: rioting, unlawful assembly, promoting enmity, violating prohibitory orders, hate speech. News reports which say “Hegde has consistently championed communal causes” have gone unchallenged.
The Indian Express reports that Hegde commissioned a documentary about himself, titled “The Real Hindu”, to spread his own legend, in which one of his achievements is listed as the “ghar wapsi” of 300 Christian converts.
His website makes no bones about who he thinks he is: “a fierce nationalist” for whom “calling a spade a spade is a natural trait”. His Twitter page is standard-bhakt: replete with retweets of Narendra Modi, genuflections before assorted swamijis, and salutations to shaheed soldiers.
His mission statement is clear.
“Anant has been encountering the deadly stare of radical Islamic terrorism for more than two decades, with zero compromise…. Unequivocally, he is against pampering one sect against the other”
So how did such a fine man find a place in a government wedded to wonderful vikas?
The truth is, Narendra Modi’s hands are moved by unseen puppeteers—RSS, if you should ask, of which he himself is a proud alum—who view India’s future in a certain monochromatic way and are hell-bent on retrieving its “golden past”.
Fire-breathing foot-soldiers like Anantkumar Hegde are the force-multipliers, like Yogi Adityanath was in Uttar Pradesh before the sudden promotion.
Some of Hegde’s pre-ministerial gems were admirably catalogued by the website Alt News to reveal his mindset shortly after his surprise inclusion four months ago (a Lingayat, not a Brahmin, was rumoured to be in the running for the Karnataka slot).
But it is Anantkumar Hegde’s “decency of language”, after the bestowal of a ministerial berth, that truly takes the breath away. So much so that Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah says he speaks “the language of goondas“.
Agni Sridhar, the reformed rowdy, who has delivered this excellent homily to Anantkumar Hegde, should take that as an insult to his former source of livelihood.
To be fair, the grammar and idiom of modern-day Karnataka politics (or Kannada academics, or cinema, or journalism, or everyday life) is far from “classical”, a status the Kannada language enjoys. Certainly not “decent”, as the sanskari RSS would like it.
It is increasingly coarse, loutish, in your face, sub-altern.
Siddaramaiah’s use of the singular for an iconic long-dead maharaja, and for rivals and legislators on the floor of the assembly, has come in for criticism. The former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JDS recently let loose expletives on a live TV show.
But whilst you might loosely bracket them as semantic or even synaptic lapses, what you see with Anantkumar Hegde is far from an accident: it is a deliberate deployment of language to divide, provoke, incite, instigate—to set the stage.
In March 2016, he was booked for hate speech, when he said at a press conference:
“Please record and telecast my words exactly as I say it. I will stand by them and not take them back. As long as Islam exists, terrorism will exist. Until we eradicate Islam from the world we will not be able to eliminate terrorism from the world… Islam is a bomb placed to disrupt world peace. As long as there is Islam there will be no peace in the world.” (emphasis added)
With his comments on the Constitution, Hegde has achieved his (and his masters’) objective: of letting the cat among the secular-liberal pigeons on what #New India, if it achieves fruition in 2022 as threatened, means: a new Constitution in “Congress-mukt Bharat”, which K.N. Govindacharya alluded to in an interview with The Wire.
But in the process, Hegde leaves enough room for the civilised citizenry to wonder what is kosher and what is not in public life—especially one stamped and certified by the RSS.
Below are two sets of tweets and comments the Union minister for skill development and entrepreneurship, for that is his day job, has made since taking over office in September.
If they do not shock you or surprise you, Hegde will have fulfilled another objective: normalising the abnormal.
September 11: “Uttara Kannada journalists have not crossed the line but elsewhere, left wing journalists are a confused lot, who do not know the value of words, do not know about their own lives, do not know how to speak, what to ask, what to write.”
November 10: “Prohibitory orders in the land of valour & great heroes #Kodagu, where dog responds when called in the name of #Tippu.”
November 18: “If Siddaramaiah wins election again, he will celebrate Kasabjayanti also.”
December 7: “For vote and seat, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will even lick others’ boots.”
December 9: “Shameless Siddharamaiah Government is directly supporting terrorists in the garb of peacekeepers & is directly involved in #HinduGenocide”
December 15: “Are thrashings not enough Mr. Siddaramaiah, do you want more? One can expect a bigger Marikaamba festival in days to come if the CM relies more upon people like Kempaiah and Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy.”
Anantkumar Hegde has also been joining the Karnataka BJP’s so-called Parivartana Rally, now gallivanting across the state, here and there.
These are some of his comments at press conferences and at rallies:
Suvarna TV interview: “There is no need for token concern for bogus ideologies. When we pray to 33 crore gods and goddesses, an Allah or a Christ does not seem bigger to us. Do they worship Rama like we might Rahim? Do Christians pray to Krishna like we do Christ?”
Bagalkot: “We are not people who bend because of one or two cases or 50 cases. If even one of our people is touched, you will see what will happen to the whole of Karnataka? If anyone challenges our blood, that will be the day.”
Jamkhandi: “Siddaramaiah doesn’t have the courage to face B.S. Yediyurappa directly. So he is firing from the shoulders of chaprasi leftwing writers…. If I mention the Bagalkot minister’s name, I will have to clean my tongue.”
Belgaum: “Siddaramaiah should look into the mirror. Will he see a human being’s face or a monster’s?”
Kumuta: “They call Tipu Sultan a tiger but he didn’t have the credentials of a mouse. They have filled people with fake history, who think gutter water, not blood, flows in us. People do not know who they were born to.”
Mysore: “The Siddaramaiah government is nobody’s baby. It is a product of sin. Where it was born, it must be finished there…. A thorn can only be taken out with a thorn.”
Mysore: “If Pratap Simha had been arrested in Uttara Kannada, the whole district would have risen in protest. So many party workers would have converged that the police would have been invisible.”
So, when will RSS read Anantkumar Hegde the riot act—bad pun—on “decency of language” and prod him towards “appropriate and acceptable behaviour”?
Or, does it expect those qualities only out of non-Brahmins?