[Q&A] Ayodhya: Old Consensus, Simple Solution- A talk by Dr. Koenraad Elst
Koenraad Elst delivered a talk at the Press Club of India. The talk was organized by the Srijan Foundation on the topic ‘Ayodhya Ram temple’. Transcript of the Talk is available HERE. This is the transcript of Q&A session.
Elst: So, has anyone any questions?
Q: I want to ask about the conspirator, the main conspirator (YA), I just want to know that, this group which you know, the engineered group, was it affiliated to any organization or were they acting independently?
Elst; Here I am talking of someone affiliated with the Sangh Parivar, in fact a lower rank activist of the Sangh Parivar, now to my knowledge not active in there anymore, but who has a career.
Q: So, it is very likely that this group, with the backing of the Sangh kept the political leadership out of it.
Elst: Well, with the backing of the Sangh, not if you mean the Sangh leadership.
Q: No I don’t mean the Sangh leadership, I mean the political leadership in BJP, they were kept out of it (Oh! Definitely). And they dint know about it because, you know because there is a fear that politicians can divulge or whatever it is. (Yeah) but it was a very closely guarded secret among a very few. So when Advani was taken aback by what happened, it seems quite natural, because he dint know what was going to happen, but in retrospect the very fact that lakhs of people were gathered there, it could be anticipated that something is going to happen and that lakhs of people could have been gathered there to provide cover, because if there are lakhs of people there, then the main people cannot be apprehended or seen by the group. So that large group that was gathered, the lakhs of people who assembled there was as a safety cover for the group that was actually going to do this. I mean that follows does it follow from what you have said?
Elst: Now, well I haven’t though that far but, yes if you look at it strategically, the presence of a large crowd does indeed make it easier to set in this motion , Yes (And those people can walk away ) Yeah and of course Advani remains responsible in the sense that he made the whole event possible. He called everyone there, so if he didn’t correctly estimate, what the consequences could be that’s a weakness on his part.
Q: Hello, (Ya). 1992 is not the beginning part of the demolition story, theyear before that if you remember,Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was then the chief minister, is reported to have shot down people in cold blood. At that time the figures given were four hundred and it seems that some of the people who came that time were very much under the desire to do something and the way the Kothari brothers, two teenage boys who had climbed the domes in ‘91, they had got down, then they were collared in the Ashram where they were staying and then they were done to death, that’s one perspective behind if they were the ginger group as you are saying.
Secondly I think, the focus on Advani as the focal point of the Ayodhya movement is very very misplaced. Sangh has always worked as a group and he was certainly the face because he was the party president. But the decision to inaugurate the Ayodhya movement in stealth was taken at Palampur, in Himachal where Murali Manohar Joshi was the party president and he had the national committee of his choice, that’s another aspect that has to be remembered and finally there’s you talked about Narasmiha Rao, Narasimha Rao had placed Central Services, CRPF and a lot of posts there, but that could not be deployed without Kalyan Singh, who was the BJP Chief minister and that was out, the local police as you have noticed never wanted to do anything. But here what we have heard about Narasimha Rao, in Delhi, from then Congress contacts was that, he pretended to lose his wits , he never actually had a heart attack but said he booked and he made sure that he was in bed throughout the period of the actual demolition and then he made sure , that no forces were deployed and the Center , the CRPF and when they reached the site at 4 o clock the next morning or 5:00 am then a makeshift temple which we know now, that has been erected, the Pooja had begun and the CRPF went and took the Prasad and then they came back, so there seem to be a lot of more forces involved than what we remember today . I do remember and you have not noticed it that Shiv Sena, Bal Thackrey at one time, after this event said that we did it. The media reports before the demolition, before 6 December, I think 4th or something, they show, they reported that there were groups, probably from Andhra Pradesh which gives suspicion about who could be involved, which was actually telecasted as practicing with ropes, how to bring things down. So there is a lot more than we know right now.
Elst: Yes, to start with the role of the Shiv Sena, the way I remember it is that Bal Thackrey said, a few days later, we are being accused of having done this, well I don’t know exactly who did it, but if my boys did it, I am proud of them. As for Narasimha Rao’s role, at least, you see he could have tried like you said Kalyan Singh was harder for him, Well he could at least have done his level best to convince Kalyan Singh, he didn’t and you know among us it is very probably because he didn’t want to do it because he was quite satisfied with the way the things were going. When I met him in 2004, I think, a few years before his death, when he was retired, I told him to his face what I felt of him. I said you are the best Prime Minister India ever had. Seeing you know as a way of speaking truth to power, I think that was really bold but you know essentially I think so, I mean in other fields too, the economic liberalization which he set in motion ,the establishment of diplomatic relation with Israel, I mean he made India a normal country again. See after the ministry of Indira and Jawaharlal, so I think he was very good prime also temperamentally of course I get along with him, he spoke 9 languages and so he was a scholar, I like that but concerning Ayodhya of course he played a very duplicitous game which seems especially in hindsight to have all the through, to allto a specific result namely to get the temple out of the way. (Audience correcting: the Eskimo structure).Yes, Right.
Q: I understand it is a closed door gathering so I find it appropriate to ask this question. In very, all these days we have this new stories which are reported which say that a lot of stones are being transported to Ayodhya , so what is the situation as in today , like do we see anything that is happening because the media doesn’t report as to any construction that is going on . So if at all there is something happening we don’t know about it, have you heard of anything?
Elst: now that’s a very good question, but I haven’t been recently to Ayodhya.
Q: and what is the status of how many stones ( I think 30 years of letting the stones lie in the sunshine , I don’t think they are very good ) because whenever I ask anybody, people say “wo bahuth din se aa rahehai “ they have been transported for many years till today (I don’t know ). And so is it, is there a group which is doingit, which is helping it, which is transporting them,(Well, as far as the localashram has a responsibility for it, I guess they arelooking after thembut I don’t know)
You say wewill allwait for the court order right? If at all,today I think there was a new story which said SupremeCourt has agreed to, agree on an early hearing of the Ayodhya dispute (has agreed to agree on what?) on an early hearing of the dispute, Yes, look into consider the application of an early hearing,Supreme Court has agreed to hear an early hearing application, they haven’t agreed to hear it earlier,they, they will consider the application for an early hearing so that we can have an expeditious conclusion.
Q: And one more thing, that if the temple had to be built, it could not be built until the Masjid was demolished, so we are talking about temple construction today, it is because the Masjid doesn’t exist anymore. So that tribute has to be given to Narasimha Rao.
Elst: Yeah, when I heard about the demolition spontaneously I burst out singing “
We’ve been waiting so long,
We’ve been waiting for the sun to rise and shine
Shining still to give us the will
Because Somehow, someday,
We just won victory and we’re on our way
We’ve been Prayin’ for it all day and fightin’ for it all night
Give us just one victory, it will be all right.
Now of course in terms of victory (crowd clapping ) not much has happened after the demolition, I don’t know what victory seamless can claim, of course they have won the election, they have come to government, but then what ? That completely interiorized the narrative of the enemy. Let me give a few examples, now one big slogan during the agitation was that, you see we should prefer the national hero Rama against the foreign invader Babur, now that had nothing to do with it, that was, that was already looking the other way. You see the fact that Babur was a foreigner had nothing to do with it, the British came to India, not because they liked India because they wanted exploit India. Okay, there is many ugly things, but they did not destroy temples. And so Alexander the great did not destroy temples, and Shakas and Hunas and so on did not destroy temples. So it is something else that motivated this Iconoclasm, namely the theology of Iconoclasm and so to neutralize the issue by making it you know, Indian versus foreign, that is already escapism and even then in those militant days that characterized the Sangh Parivar, so it was no surprise when a few years later, L k Advani, who had led the movement, He of all the people said the demolition day was the blackest day of my life and he had totally taken over the narrative of the enemy. Like for example I also hear him say, we, we should make sure that not only the majority has its way in India. So he believed this all narrative of minorities, for a secularist like myself, there are only citizens in a country and they all have the same right and we should not do anything special for those so called minorities. You see to bite into the narrative that there are minorities in India, that is already the first step towards secularism at the rest and so, you see till today while we are talking of Advani, he also said governing party does not have to offer an ideology, it only has to offer good governance, as if defining good governance is not a matter of ideology. So you see he was trying to downplay all kinds of ideological matters, just like the present government is doing. You see it is building roads or whatever development and that’s a very safe issue and that’s what the other side also promises. Akhilesh Yadav, he was defeated in UP, he also reminded everyone that he had promised essentially the same thing as the BJP, and so all these development talk, while development in itself is quits, is fairly uncontroversial, that is only an escape valve, you see to not have to issue ideological issues and so that was there already in the time of Ayodhya, that is still very much there, only it has got worse. You see at that time you could still describe the BJP as a Hindu party, right now I don’t know where that term comes from. I don’t know what action of theirs give rise to this term but how are they, how are they gaining strength? How are they gaining strength? You see the minorities are never going to vote for them. And as for the Hindus well, you see that is a gamble, is like Theresa May in England, she called snap elections thinking that her position was very secure, she could only win and she lost. So, you see this gamble on elections and you know gambling in this case, that the BJP will get a second term, I’m not so sure. As long as Modi is there, probably, he is an enormous vote catcher. If he disappears for some reason, I don’t think that enough people will vote for the BJP. Baba Ramdev, after the elections he said, I voted for them not because I want the party in power, but I voted for Modi. And so there is little in the BJPs performance that generates enthusiasm and also see gaining strength, what for? You see they are gaining strength in the sense that they are positioning themselves for winning the next election and then again do nothing. You see if a leftist party wins the election, the party leader comes on TV with a firing speech and from now on we will do this and this and this. At the peak the BJP just the reverse, they hide the program points which they not even seriously mean to put in practice now, but which their enemies ascribe to them. In that sense there is an alliance between the BJP, Sangh Parivar and the media. You see the media always portray them as Hindu fanatics and that claims them votes of the Hindus but they themselves don’t promise anything Hindu and then once in power, they could at least have set a process in motion of some strategically chosen for Hindu goals, it also immediately meddles with Article 370 might trigger more riots and they would immediately be blamed on the BJP. If you would start a common civil code then, certainly you see every Imam would be affected which means that you get fiery anti-government speeches in every Eskimo place of worship and therefore that would be too hot to handle right now and in that sense you see that the tacit support that they have given to some private initiative to do away with triple Talak may be the right kind of stuff, you see piecemeal, you know just sensing how far they can go but there are other issues that it could certainly have taken on that are not anti-minority but that are pro Hindu, in which the minorities loose nothing but the Hindus gain a lot. I think especially of the article 30of the Constitution, which discriminates Hindus in matter of Education. This is not just a theoretical issue, the Right to Education Act is a very blatant application of it. Tell me, by the way how is development that they always talk about, how is development served by the closing down of hundreds of schools, because that is happening. Now it is probably possible to take some legislative action, you don’t have to abolish it all together, you just amend it so that there is no more discrimination against the Hindus. So that is something they could have taken up right away. They could have abolished Article 295A of the Penal Code which institute censorship. There are number of small things they could have done, they don’t.
Q: Indistinctive question
Elst: Well, because they have a very low Hindu consciousness (Indistinctive comment from crowd).I mean they have been overwhelmed by the enemy propaganda, they follow the enemy narrative because it is the only one within their horizon that they know of because there is no counter narrative on the Hindu side. Well, there is one people actually one, people go around well, that it is not being spread, is not being promoted.
Q (Meenakshi Jain): Even the NCERT text books are continuing…
Elst: Yes, now of course with the History textbooks, I can understand that the BJP doesn’t want to burn its fingers again after the whole thing, well failed in 2002 with Murali Manohar Joshi, so there they can take their time at that. At least they should begin, they should appoint the right people. Of that I don’t hear anything. In fact I have been to just another conference on Sanskrit Eastern Historians and they were all complaining that in their field the BJPis not giving a lead, it’s not taking the right decision, is only nominating, its own time servers, bureaucrats, you know not people of talent, not people who are going to influence anything at all in the right sense.
Q: What do you think Europe has in store for the future because probably it will be the first time that Europe will see a demographic clash between the Judeo-Christian world, if I can refer to it and probably Arab Islamism and what can Europe may be learn from the Indic experience of probably 1000 years.
Elst: Well, I am not the first one to say that Europe is moving more and more into an India like situation, with the same challenges. As for demography the situation is rather similar. Recently some Kashmiri Pandit leader that I know, let me know that she had a second child. I thought what is this Kashmiri pundit with 2 children, it’s likeI don’t want to die out, and so you know and so this is a big problem, the groups that you would perhaps like toentrust the future to are not having children and all those are.You have the news of I suppose of Kerala where the 26% of population is Eskimo, has 42% of the children. So the next generation is not going to be 26% but 42%, which means that in a lot of districts, it is going to be the majority. And you know what happens when they are in the majority. O yeah in that respect you see India and Europe are relatively similar. In Europe it is evolving much faster because it is held by immigration, but you see that the higher birth rate among the Eskimos is already there anyway,so those that are already on the inside can do the job, even if immigration stop and so you know the fact that they are very unhappy with the or that they say at least that they are very unhappy with the Eskimo state in Syria and Iraq, is not that they disapprove so much of what it is doing to the Yazidis and all that , there is reinstating slavery and beheading and so on , no it gets bad publicity to the Eskimo cause and in the circumstances these and all is not necessary, they are not against beheading , that is okay for them but now that beheadings on TV , you know emphatical publicity, you know putting it on Facebook and soon ,making sure that everyone has seen it. Well, that is counterproductive because in the present situation you have democracy and you have demographically the upper hand. So very soon both Europe and India are going to have an Eskimo majority and then just applying the rules of democracy they don’t have to do anything special, just applying the present laws they can completely transform this into an Eskimo state and so in Europe it is going a bit faster on the other hand I must say that the consciousness about the problem is also rising much faster. You see among Hindus there is terrible apathy, you know and that that in the case of India, a party that is denounced as you know Hindu fundamentalist and so on, still does not show that this conscious of this Eskimo challenge that is little bit different in Europe, you see I mean parties like Geert Wilder’s Freedom party ,they have come about precisely as an answer to this challenge and the critique they have made of the whole Eskimo theology is very thorough and so by now you see all these, you know all the things SitaramGoel used to put in books like the book where he gives Chenghis Khans experiences with visions which he obeyed and which always gave him victory , where he says this is the same thing that the famous founder of the Eskimo faith also went through and so you can, you can perfectly psychoanalyze all this whole religion came about. You now that is not being done in India, you see Goel wrote those things and nobody else is continuing that kind of work, you see in Europe that has taken off and so a sizable minority of people by now is fully aware of what the stakes are but then on the other hand the problem is growing so fast that may well overtake us sometime soon.
Q: I wanted to ask about, like our temple funds are being used by the Indian government for the good of all citizens of India and that is how treasure from our temples are used for Hajj subsidy, are used to build a temple called as Golden temple, like gold treasures from our temples were made to construct Golden Temple and now the same people who go to the Golden Temple do not consider themselves to be Hindus and the same people who avail Hajj subsidy, no other Islamic nation provides Hajj subsidy, even the Islamic countries , be it Bangladesh, be it Pakistan ,be I countries from the Middle East , they do not give Hajj subsidy , only India give Hajj subsidy. What re the ways in which we can stop that? What are the ways in which we can use the treasure for our own religion or for our own community?
Elst: Well first of all about this pilgrimage to Mecca which is pre Eskimo custom. In fact, you know the Eskimos came way too late on the scene to invent anything, everything they have the circumcision, their female circumcision, their fasting, you see their group prayers, their pilgrimage and so on they all existed before, now whether Eskimo or pre Eskimo at any rate a pilgrimage is not served by subsidies. The idea of a pilgrimage is precisely to bring a personal sacrifice and an Eskimo law lays down explicitly that every one of us, who has the means should at least once in his life go on pilgrimage. So if you don’t have the means well you don’t have to artificially get them, its ok if you don’t go.
Q: Namaste sir, I have a question, so the recent UP election was a landslide in one sense and it was a very interesting choice of Chief Minister that they chose, it was sort of not expected at least in mainstream media. So Yogi Adithyanath is known for the kind of profile that he is known for the profile of Hindu YuvaVahini and having a hard stance in general, so do you think that with a majority and 2019 looking good for BJP and with Yogi Adithyanath at Uttar Pradesh do we have, are these signs of something happening at Ayodhya very soon. What would your reading be on it?
Elst: What about Yogi Adhithyanath, I don’t know him personally but my impression of him was very positive. I was surprised that the BJP won after their defeats in Delhi for instance and then when he was nominated I really liked it I thought, well may be something Hindu has remained in the BJP. Then again what he has done, you know he also supports the Eskimos in some ways, giving advantages to the poor hapless minorities. On the other hand he does some very sensible things like the first thing I think he did was to improve, well at least pass the necessary law for improving the course of English in Hindi medium schools. You see that is extremely important to save the vernacular schools. We see parents want children to know English because in the labor market it is very important as Madhu Kishwar has written, the biggest distinction in India is not between is not between castes, is not between religions, it is between those who know English and those who don’t. So they want them to learn proper English, now for that it is not at all necessary to go to English Medium School. I never been to English medium school, you see most of the Russian and Chinese and Japanese and so on winners of the Nobel Prize have never been to English medium schools, some of them don’t know English. So this is not necessary at all and so I strongly support native languages and I think it is very wise of Yogi Adityanath, I don’t think he was the first to do it. I think in some other states it has also been done, but it is a very good initiative to promote English as a second language and so to make sure that when they come from school at 17 years or so, they know English well, you know they can hold their own in English while not being unfaithful to their mother tongue.
Q: Do you think the , we as citizens pro Hindu who want to see BJP act a pro Hindu agenda should do to act as some kind of pressure group look at make the present government act on some of the issues which have been discussed. How to make BJP or at least push them towards some kind of pro Hindu …
Elst: Well, that is the question, I have been trying for three years to find out how it can be done, I don’t know how to do it and you see me as an outsider okay I hope I can be forgiven for not knowing but you see many peoples in the corridors of power also don’t know or alternatively many claim not to know because in fact I don’t want it, they are satisfied with the status quo , now I know a lobby group , in the Indic academy , where lot of people have their heart in the right place and some members are form the BJP, are active in The BJP, are have a post in the present establishment. Now even though the others, people like Shankar Sharan and Madhu Kishwar and soon lament about the lack of cultural dimensions in the BJP’s policies. All these people who are with the BJP don’t do anything, at that point they look away when you start talking about development, then they wholly start defending development because that’s the BJP slogan. Then they start saying, yeah but the poor need development, what nobody is questioning the value of development that’s not the point, the point is precisely the other things, that the BJP just doesn’t want to talk about not I find that , even in those lobby groups , BJP people prefer their allegiance to the BJP totheir allegiance to Hinduism. So I don’t know , I mean of course we shouldn’t give up and everybody should do his own station in life , whatever he can but more than that I don’t know. [Applause].