When the Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, visited Gujarat after the Godhra incident and during the period when violence was at its height in Gujarat, he reminded Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister, of his Raj Dharma.
In the Mahabharat, in the Shantiparva, it is stated,
"There is no other justification for the king to exist than to protect in every way the people. For protection is the first foundation of all social order."
Again and again the Mahabharata says that whereas protection of the people is the purpose of creating the king, their protection then becomes his goal and to achieve this goal he is required to subject himself to the discipline of Dharma. In other words, although the king is invested with the authority and power of governance, the true sovereignty belong to Dharma and not to him.
In the Anushasana Parva, at page (212.40) the Mahabharat states,
"Let the king protect his subjects from their fear of him; from their fear of others; from their fear of each other; and from their fear of things that are not human".
I have begun this paper with quotes from the Mahabharata because we are governed at the national level and in Gujarat by a political party which, while claiming itself to be secular, also has as a part of its extended family three organizations, the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal which claim to be the protectors and guardians of Hinduism. The question that I would like to ask the Sangh Parivar is whether it understands anything about Hinduism or, for that matter, its temporal face, Hindutva, as advocated by them.. This is a faith whose language, Sanskrit, has no word for religion. In Arabic religion is called 'Mazhab". Dharma transcends religion because even an atheist, by his conduct, his acceptance of duty and his adherence to truth, is Dharmic. Panth is narrower than religion and denotes a sect.
The generic term Hinduism covers a spectrum of faiths which completes a global circle of 360 degrees and embrace all faiths. The Hindu scriptures do not have any one book which is revealed by the Almighty and which contains the only truth, or "Ekal Satya". The Koran, the Bible and the Torah are books of revelation which are immutable and cannot be questioned. They create the frame within which the Muslims, Christians and Jews respectively follow their faith and they exclude all non-believers. Not only does Hinduism not have any such a book, but it also has no concept of exclusion of anyone. Anyone who follows his own Dharma is entitled to salvation because Hinduism has no concept of either Limbo or ever lasting damnation. They have neither the Bible, nor Shariat, nor Talmud as the ruling guide for the state. That leaves only Dharma as the lodestar to guide the state. It is for this reason that I have used the words "The Dharmic State" as the title of this paper. I started with the Prime Minister's advice to the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, to follow his Raj Dharma. It has been amply proved that Narendra Modi failed even to understand what Raj Dharma is, much less follow it. That is why Godhra occurred, that is why Gujarat is torn with strife for the last four months and that is why Gujarat still has Muslims living as refugees within their own land. Even today the Chief Minister of Gujarat has not realized that, in the words of the Mahabharata,
"The king who governs always with equality and impartiality obtains Dharma". (Shantiparva 69.30).
In Gujarat the excuse given for all that followed upon Godhra is that this retaliation was to be expected in the face of the burning of a train full of kar sevaks. Is lynch law justified in a state where there is rule of law ? Is lynch law justified in the Dharmic State ?
The Mahabharata in the Shantiparva states,
" It is in the nature of the world that many men restrain themselves from wrong doing for fear of punishment of law". (Shantiparva 15.6.)
This restraint of law was obviously removed in Gujarat with the connivance of government. This is not the attribute of a Dharmic State ' this is the definition of anarchy. The real attribute of rule of law in a Dharmic State is,
"Neither mother, nor father, nor brother, nor wife, nor priest, no one is above the law '. To the king no one is beyond the law of punishment". (Shantiparava 121.60).
In Gujarat if one happens to be Dr.Togadia, or Mr.Zadphia or Mr.Ashok Singhal, if one happens to be a Bajrang Dali, or a rioter who kills the Muslim and burns down his house, one is above the law. Without hesitation I can say that at least Narendra Modi's Gujarat is not a Dharmic State, notwithstanding the fact that the Sangh Parivar rules it. Surely Shri K Sudarshan needs to ask himself whether he would like to preside over an organization whose ministrations have led Gujarat on the path of adharma.
Secularism does not mean paying lip service to a panth nirpeksh raj. It means conducting oneself in a manner which promotes equality and impartiality, separates the temporal from the religious, creates a system of equal laws, respects all religions but it does not promote any. The BJP cannot be accused of such secularism, but can the Congress, which governed us for the major part of our independent existence, lay better claims to secular credentials ? The foundations of the present state of anarchy in Gujarat were laid by the Congress Chief Ministers, avaricious beyond recall, who succeeded Hitendra Desai. The worst communal riot in the history of Gujarat occurred in Ahmedabad in 1969 under a Congress Government. The 1992 riots in Bombay took place under a Congress Chief Minister. Whereas the Congress has never openly avowed a communal card it has never hesitated in using religion, caste and class as a means of promoting its own electoral interests. In a volatile society such as India one cannot play the communal card and then expect the situation to be normal.
I still remember my days with the Delhi Development Authority shortly after the emergency was lifted and the Janata Government came to power. We had constructed shops in the Meena Bazar area of Jama Masjid and the Payenwala area of Dariba in Delhi to rehabilitate the shopkeepers who had been uprooted from there during the emergency. The majority of them were Muslims. Sanjay Gandhi told me that we were making a mistake because removal of the shopkeepers during the emergency had eradicated a potential nest of Pakistani supporters. I was horrified to hear this from the mouth of Jawaharlal Nehru's grandson , but it did suggest a mindset which looked on secularism as a convenience rather than an act of faith. My accusation is that if the BJP has created a state based on adharma, the Congress, too, has failed to establish a truly Dharmic State. I make this statement as a Hindu who sees his religion being destroyed by the very votaries of Hindutva, the Sangh Parivar, which lays claim to be the defender of the Hindu faith and I regret that those who claim to be secular have, by their failure to establish a Dharmic State, are putting up no worthwhile resistance to the creation of a state based on adharma. This is the real tragedy of India.