RSS-BJP have once again targeted Odisha. They have done well in the recent panchayat elections and are now aiming to come to power in the state. To contend for power in the state, RSS selected Bhadrak, a commercial town with nearly 40% Muslim population, shopkeepers and labourers.
The oft-repeatedly story went like RSS-BJP people who had assembled to celebrate formation of their party two day after Ram Navami procession alleged that some Muslim youth have posted derogatory remarks against Ram and Sita. But even before the police and administration are allowed to act on their complaint, RSS mobs burn down shops belonging to Muslim community. A rumour was floated by these past masters of rumour-mongering and owners of the largest rumour mill, that Muslims have burnt down a shop of a Hindu owner to spur the crowd collected by them to indulge in burning down shops.
In the ‘peace committee’ routinely called by the Administration in such cases, mainly to cover up their inaction and shield the guilty, representatives of Muslims denied any wrong doing or indulging in any destruction. As soon as this meeting ended, the RSS mobilized a big motor cycle procession to terrorize the Muslims and another orgy of violence and destruction followed.
Another burst of rumours flowed from the same mill that some Muslim youths have raised pro-Pakistan slogans before the police station. This allegation too has become a standard ploy of these forces. In JNU their own people allegedly raised such slogans and then blamed the JNU students for having raised them.
RSS-BJP have enacted Bhadrak to increase their base in this district where they till now do not have much strength. But their design is not limited to Bhadrak. They are using Bhadrak to polarize the people throughout Odisha. The game plan is to capture power in Odisha on the strength of such polarization. This year Ram Navami processions have been used by RSS in the states like Odisha and West Bengal to increase their strength. Their cadres carried weapons openly challenging the state govts. claiming that their deities too carried weapons.
While RSS game plan is neither new nor surprising, but is success is largely due to appeasement of RSS led Hindutva groups by ruling class parties. RSS had indulged in large scale violence against Christians in Kandhmahal district. A number of fact finding reports had shown the deliberate and planned nature of violence unleashed by RSS against Christians though they tried to use killing of Lakhanand Saraswati as a provocation. In fact RSS has mastered the art of giving its premeditated murderous attacks against minorities a colour of reaction against a provocation. Ruling class media also helps in spreading such a narrative.
But what has happened to perpetrators of Kandhmahal violence? Hardly any action has been taken by Odisha Govt. led by BJD or even Central Govt. then led by Congress. In the name of not offending majority community, even the non-RSS-BJP ruling class parties appease them and try to shield the guilty. Communalization of the state machinery also helps in this. It should be clearly stated that common people either from majority or minority communities, do not want communal conflagration. Ruling class parties’ appeasement of RSS stems from the fact that all these ruling class parties wish to utilize social divisions to gain or regain power and are representatives of the ruling classes which use these divisions to divert people’s struggles and to crush them if they burst.
Odisha is a state of democratic struggles. It is a land of brave struggles of adivasis and peasants against forcible displacement. It is a land of struggles of oppressed and exploited. RSS-BJP are trying to erase this space for democratic struggles. Non-RSS ruling class parties too are interested in shrinking this space. Hence, their appeasement of RSS.