As our analysis shows, at the root of this anti-federal feeling lies a confusion in the BJP and it's mother-org, the RSS - between spirituality and nationalism. If the BJP comes to power, this confusion has the power to lead India from darkness to darkness (we don't mean that the other apparent alternative - the Congress - is any better. On them, later, and also in this post. We have not considered the "third front" because it's not a group with one vision, one goal, and one philosophy, even flawed).
In this post, we analyze portions of BJP's "guiding philosophy" which describe the party's anti-federal stance. This philosophy was propounded by Mr. Deendayal Upadhyaya, one of the founders of BJP. And of course, it has its roots in the works of Mr. M. S. Golwalkar who served as the RSS chief for many years.
Get it straight: there was no Indian Parliament before the British
Now let's take Mr. Upadhyaya's comments under the scanner. As part of four lectures delivered at Bombay on April 22-25, 1965, Mr. Upadhyaya said in criticism of the the Indian Constitution as it was at that point of time:
There are separate states. There is no separate citizenship of state and of Union. We are all citizens of Bharat. By the same token, we have denied the right to secede to individual state. Not only that the power to demarcate the boundaries of state and to choose their names, is vested in the parliament, and not in assemblies. This is as it should be; in tune with the nationalism and tradition of Bharat.In short, Mr. Upadhyaya makes the baseless claim that the citizenship, demarcations of state-boundaries (or kingdom boundaries earlier), names of those states (kingdoms earlier), etc were decided by some central authority in the "tradition of Bharat". There could be no statement further away from truth than this! There was never ever a central authority who decided the names of kingdoms or kingdom-to-kingdom borders. All these decisions were taken by the kingdoms themselves. Kings named their provinces as they chose, and borders were decided based on wars. However back you go into the history of India, there was nothing equivalent to the Indian Parliament before the arrival of the British. This is an undeniable fact, even if un-stomachable to staunch BJP/RSS-folks!
Now his comment about the "nationalism of Bharat" is even less true. There is no provable feeling of nationalism prevalent at that time in India except outside a handful vedic mantras which the RSS holds on to as dearer than life - a few shlokas from the Vishnu Purana which talk of the landmass between the oceans and the Himalayas as Bharata. Nobody in Karnataka ever called anything outside Karnataka as the Karmabhoomi or Matrubhoomi, but the BJP and RSS amuse themselves with the feeling that Kannadigas' hearts have considered the whole of India (which in their minds includes Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh also!) as such. Absolute nonsense. If today India is called the Matrubhoomi by some Kannadigas, it is because Karnataka is part of the Indian Union. Not because of anything else. India's Matrubhoomitva derives from Karnataka's Taaytana.
With full respect to the Vishnu Puarana, we'd like to point out that irrespective of what the Vishnu Purana said, there was no common feeling of "nationalism of Bharat" prevalent ever. Not everything written in the scriptures is actually practiced. If only the BJP asks itself how many of their workers utter lies or perform acts contrary to Vyakti Dharma, the point becomes clear that what's written in the Puranas is not necessarily what's seen in society.
The problem here is of the RSS and BJP mixing up two things and getting so confused as to not being able to tell the difference between them: Indian spirituality (which talks about universal truths unconnected with space and time) and the landmass called India (which is a space-time entity).
Arguing that Shri Adi Shankara traveled from Kerala to the Himalayas is no proof of an Indian Nationalism existent at that time. It's proof of an India-wide spiritual unity, but not proof of political unity. The problem is that the BJP and RSS don't understand these two things separately.
Utter confusion in the BJP between Spirituality and Nationalism
Mr. Upadhyaya continues:
However, despite all this, we made our constitution federal, whereby what we have adopted in practice, we have rejected in principle. In a federation constituent units have their own sovereignty. These voluntarily relinquish their sovereignty to the federation, by an agreement. It may be that they surrender all their rights and thereby the centre requires sovereignty. But these powers are given to the Union. It has no power of its own. Thus the federal constitution considers the individual states as fundamental power, and the centre as merely a federation of states. This is contrary to the truth. It runs counter to the unity and indivisibility of Bharat. There is no recognition of the idea of Bharatmata, Our sacred motherland, as enshrined in the hearts of our people.Of course, this passage has only academic interest now since the Indian constitution does not explicitly mention that India is a federal country. But the point is - yes, India should move towards being a more federal polity. Yes, the states must have the fundamental power and yes, the center must remain a federal government - just as in countries such as the USA. The fact that at the root of BJP's ideology lies so much opposition for a federal India is not a good sign.
According to the first para of the Constitution, "India that is Bharat will be a federation of States", i.e. Bihar Mata, Banga Mata, Punjab Mata, Kannada Mata, Tamil Mata, all put together make Bharat Mata. This is ridiculous. We have thought of the provinces as limbs of Bharat Mata and not as individual mother. Therefore our constitution should be unitary instead of federal.
There was never any widespread recognition of an "idea of Bharatmata" before the freedom struggle or nearabouts. If at all, there was indeed only the recognition of a Kannada Mata, a Bihar Mata, etc. The BJP and RSS amuse themselves with the thought that this necessarily means a departure from India's spirituality, but in reality it is not. In reality, all the different kingdoms which lived and prospered in what we call India today subscribed to the same divine ideals which were present all over India without the intervention of any "central" or "national" body. For example, the Wodeyars of Mysore connected directly with Sri Gowri as the diety without any middlemanship by any "Nation" larger than Mysore itself. Sri Gowri was Mysore's Naada-devate without the intervention of any Bharatmata. And yeah, Mysore's borders were formed by way of waging wars with neighbouring kingdoms. And yeah, the name of Mysore wasn't coined by an imaginary central body, and the citizenship of Mysoreans wasn't decided by any so-called national body either. There was no such thing.
So the bottomline is - niether Mr. Upadhyaya nor Mr. Golwalkar, nor the BJP, nor the RSS have the correct understanding of what India is. The main reason for their lack of understanding of the true india is a confusion in their brains between India's spirituality and India's politics. The BJP remains eternally confused between spirituality and nationalism. They can't distinguish between the two - we mean the best of the party's workers. The rest of them, of course, can't distinguish between truth and lies, between Dharma and Adharma, between Deendayal Upadhyaya and Karl Marx, between white and black.
Also read on KARNATIQUE:
Is India a Federal Country? Yes or No?
India's non-central non-government
The Leading Challenge for Federalism: Accommodation of Human Diversity