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Hindu rashtra is a myth: Sasikanth Senthil

Hindu rashtra is a myth: Sasikanth Senthil

Mangalore Today / Deccan Herald

Tamilnadu, April 16, 2024: Sasikanth Senthil resigned from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 2019 after the Narendra Modi-led BJP dispensation was re-elected to power. Joining the Congress in 2020, Senthil played a key role in the party’s win in Karnataka in the 2023 assembly and he is now the Congress candidate from Tiruvallur Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu.

Sasikanth Senthil

The head of the Congress War Room for the 2024 polls spoke to DH’s E.T.B. Sivapriyan on a range of issues.

How do you see your transition from an IAS officer to an activist to a strategist of the Congress party and now in active politics as a Lok Sabha candidate?

For me, it is a very smooth process and a logical one. I have been pursuing the same goal for a very long time. It is just the roles that have differed for me and it is only logical that I have now come to the forefront in active politics after having worked among cadres of the Congress party for three years. Initially, my only goal was to oppose the majoritarian take-over of India, but as I progressed into my political life, I understood that there is a larger requirement of changing the political framework. There is a need to redefine the way politics is practiced in India and this has now become a very important goal of my life.

Tamil Nadu, where you are contesting, is one of the very few states where the I.N.D.I.A. alliance has a strong narrative against the BJP. Why isn’t the Opposition successful in creating a strong nation-wide narrative against the BJP?

Regional parties are very grounded and so is Congress in many areas. I agree that a national narrative is required. But that is not the ‘be-all and end-all.’ There are very sharp regional narratives that are being accepted in many states. The lack of a very strong national narrative may not be a reason for anyone to believe that the regional narratives are not strong enough. For instance, Tamil language is a strong regional narrative in Tamil Nadu, and it will never become a national  narrative. But in Tamil Nadu, it works. So, I don’t see the lack of a national narrative as a big drawback. I personally think that the freedom to choose a narrative and go to the battle is a very good strategy.

Don’t you think that a Prime Ministerial face in Narendra Modi helps the BJP?

It is their politics and it helps them. They have a patriarch figure of the party who they call vishwaguru and project him as someone who has a solution for every problem. It helps them electorally because for the BJP, it is all about creating a rift between 80 per cent and 20 per cent (majority versus the minority). To create that rift, they require a strong man who is at the Center of everything that they do.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the Congress manifesto has the imprint of the Muslim League. What is your reaction as the party’s war room chief?

I am not at all surprised by his statement. All that the BJP has been doing is to project 20 percent of the population as villains to consolidate the majority 80 per cent. But I believe that the country won’t move to the place where the BJP wants it to as there will be a lot of resistance from several quarters. The chaos that is happening in this country today will ultimately save it from falling for any singular movement.

What is stopping the Opposition from taking issues against the BJP to the people?

Media plays a major role in setting the agenda and that’s why it is called the Fourth Estate. A very strong indicator of a fascist regime is mediate takeover and when that happens, the agendas don’t get set. A political party has certain  limitations and the media should play an active role. For instance, when the India Against Corruption movement was at its peak, it was the media that set the agenda, not the BJP, which was then the principal Opposition party.

But the situation is different now as the media is not allowed to operate in an independent manner. We are fighting a war very bravely without solid weapons. Opposition parties do everything in their capacity, but the media should help them take it to a larger audience. The coverage of social media is a mere 18 per cent and how do we reach out to the remaining 82 per cent without mass media?

You say the BJP divides the country, but the party keeps winning elections after elections. What does that say?

That doesn’t say much. It is just a number game and it doesn’t say much about people’s lives or transformation. I would say elections can be won with proper strategies and groundwork. That’s not a big deal.

If that’s the case, why hasn’t the Opposition parties, especially the Congress, mastered the art of winning elections?

We should. The Congress party has a certain way of doing things. We need to adapt and we need to work on our organisational strength. Congress is the only front that can put up a strong fight against the BJP.

Do you think the I.N.D.I.A. alliance will put up a fight against the BJP?

Absolutely, there is a good fight going on as we speak. The BJP is reorienting some of its strategy as it has realised that Modi isn’t enough to win the election. It keeps changing strategies and I believe the pluralism in the Opposition camp is a very good thing.

Are you coming to say that the BJP is realizing that Modi alone is not enough to win the election?

Yes, especially where there are strong regional powers. Take the example of Karnataka, where Modi is popular, but the good work of the Congress government is also being talked about by the people. Numbers show that women are in support of the Congress government in Karnataka. That has made the BJP go back to the drawing room and come up with new strategies. But the fact is BJP doesn’t know anything beyond Modi.

Why do you think BJP relies only on the Modi model?

That’s the majority model wherein you have a father figure to cover up all the lies you say. The BJP is not even moving towards a majoritarian country, they are only talking about a mythical majoritarian state. In a majoritarian state, it is the majority that gets to enjoy a lot of special incentives, but here in India, the reality is that the majority faces oppression. I say this because the BJP doesn’t want the Caste census to be conducted. It is obvious that it will be Hindus who will benefit from the Caste Census, but the BJP doesn’t want that.

Why do you think that the BJP opposes Caste Census?

It’s obvious that they don’t want the accurate numbers of the OBC, MBCs and Dalit population to come out. The ceiling of reservation is fixed at 50 per cent but the population of the OBCs, MBCs, and Dalits are much higher than 50 per cent. They don’t want such uncomfortable truths to come out. At the end of the day, Hindu Rashtra is a myth and it will be broken the day Caste Census is conducted and OBCs realise that they have been taken for granted (by the BJP) all this while.

How do you see the chances for the DMK alliance in Tamil Nadu? Is the BJP growing in Tamil Nadu?

AIADMK has lost its mojo because of only one reason. They chose the wrong partner, and the problem with fascist parties is that they would want to become the second in any place. They will not go for the kill, initially. They will try to emerge as the runner-up and will confront the person who is in first place. That’s the only way they can establish themselves into a fight.

That is what the BJP is doing in Tamil Nadu. They are not building their organization by hitting the ground. They are only playing on narratives, and you know, narratives don’t alone work in elections. I would say BJP is not growing as an organisation in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK has been deliberately silenced to give space for the BJP.

You headed the Congress war room during the Karnataka assembly elections. Will BJP repeat its 2019 Lok Sabha performance this time?

I think the BJP is not going to win in at least half of the 28 Lok Sabha seats. The reason for people to possibly shift towards the Congress is because of the fulfilment of election promises by the Congress government. The schemes have reached the ground and I feel that will make a difference this time.

Courtesy: Deccan Herald

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