Gurpreet Singh: Exposing BJP hypocrisy over its passion for Hinduism

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      Violence erupted shortly after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of his Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) extended greetings to the nation on the 10-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

      The rampage, including incidents of arson, was started by followers of a controversial "god man" found guilty of raping two former devotees. The ensuing carnage left more than 30 people dead. 

      It occurred in the BJP-ruled state of Haryana where a court convicted Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the head of a sect called Dera Sacha Sauda.

      While his devotees began the violence, a number of BJP leaders openly sided with the self-styled god man.

      So much so, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, who claims to be a seer himself, stated that a court cannot be above the belief of thousands of devotees. 

      The BJP, which is known for its right-wing ideology, has a desire to turn India into a Hindu theocracy. 

      To harbour an ambition to establish Hindu state is one thing but to be an honest Hindu is something else.

      If the response to the violence of Singh's followers is any indication, their passion for the Hindu religion is full of hypocrisy and contradictions. 

      The 10-day festival celebrates the elephant-headed god Ganesh, who's worshipped as the remover of obstacles.

      During Ganesh Chaturthi, a representation of the elephant god submersed in a river as a sign of Hindus' devotion to him.
      Chetan Gole

      If the story of this god is taken at face value, the BJP  will have great difficulty in explaining whether they really respect the values of Lord Ganesh. 

      Ganesh was the sole creation of his mother Parvati, who wanted someone to be her true protector all the time. She did not even want her husband, Lord Shiv, to walk into her bathroom without her permission, and had deployed Ganesh outside the bathhouse.

      On one occasion Ganesh tried to stop Shiv from forcibly entering while Parvati was taking a shower. An agitated Shiv responded by chopping off his son's head.

      Parvati then had to fight with her husband to bring back Ganesh to life, after which Shiv gave him the head of an elephant.

      Since time immemorial Hindus have continued to worship Ganesh, a.k.a. the elephant god.

      On Ganesh Chaturthi, a huge idol of Ganesh is made and immersed in a river as part of a grand ritual.

      Going by this fable, Ganesh represents the power of women and matriarchy. 

      If the BJP really cares for Ganesh, then it has to prove this through meaningful actions. 

      This is not the first time that BJP leaders have let down women. Only recently, the son of a BJP leader from Haryana was caught stalking a woman in Chandigarh.

      In the past BJP supporters were involved in inciting Hindu mobs to rape Muslim women during sectarian violence.  

      Then there are BJP leaders who believe that women must stay in the confines of their homes and should dress appropriately to avoid sexual violence. 

      The BJP has no moral right to appropriate Ganesh, who stood in defence of the honour of Paravati and to protect the freedom of women. And it is for practising Hindus to determine whether the BJP is really a defender of Hindu religion or is only trying to use it as a tool to maintain political power.

      Hopefully, the violence in Haryana and the BJP's response to it will enable Hindu-dominated India to see this duplicity more clearly. 

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine. He's also the author of Why Mewa Singh Killed William Hopkinson: Revisiting the Murder of a Canadian Immigration Inspector and Fighting Hatred With Love: Voices of the Air India Victims' Families. Both were published by Chetna Parkashan.