The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has two sharply contrasting faces. One looks westward, to the capitalist economy and technological advance. The other looks backward into history and clings to ossified fossils that will stand out like monstrous gargoyles on the edifice of any modern thinking.
Thus the party has a leader who hops on and off airplanes that take him places which have absolutely no affinity for his or his party’s ideologies and long term objectives. Back home in the country, his colleagues go on harping on one and the same string of ancient – very ancient – history producing a tedious monotony ad nauseam.
The latest pronouncement is from the urban development minister, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, who wants to rename Delhi as Indraprastha or Hastinapur. How far back does the BJP want to take India? How forward, on the other hand? Is the party suffering from a split personality disorder? Some kind of political schizophrenia?
I wonder if Mr Naidu has some basic knowledge of human history. Or is he mixing myth with history with some heinous ulterior motive? “The question to ask here is whether Mahabharata is a myth or reality. If it is a reality then when did it exist. Some say it was lakhs of years ago. ... Evidence of the oldest settlement in Delhi dates to the 3rd century BC inside Purana Qila, which means just 2,300 years ago,” remarked Sohail Hashmi, historian and film-maker.
Every day one or another leader of the BJP comes out with some suggestion which can only take India backward by centuries and reinforce certain superstitions and ignorance. Why is the party doing this? Does it want India move ahead toward a greater civilisation founded on scientific temper or push us deeper into the world of myths, mantras and old wives’ tales?