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The Sangh Parivar weeklies have delayed their reaction to the hanging of Afzal Guru. The latest issue of the Organiser, however, throws light on how Afzal's death may have also laid to rest one of the issues the saffron ranks used to beat the Congress with. This is clear from a "special report" that seeks to insinuate that "Congress eye on polls to delay Afzal hanging". The report claims that a "large chunk in the Congress" was "in favour of delaying taking a final call on carrying out the death sentence of Afzal" fearing that "its vote bank, particularly among the minorities, might be disturbed if the death sentence is carried before the general polls".
While the Organiser used this issue to accuse the Congress with minority appeasement, for Panchjanya, Afzal's hanging was noteven worth a mention. The report in the Organiser flies in the face of fact, because Afzal was hanged just before the issue went to press. For their part, the Organiser and Panchjanya will now have to inform their readers.
Modi, Mamata and Akhilesh
Three separate reports in Panchjanya and the Organiser expose the saffron camp's predicament in the country, moving from west to east ó Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. With the Sangh Parivar owing some of its credibility among the middle classes to the larger-than-life image of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, both weeklies feature Modi's speech at the Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi.
The Parivar, however, appears to cling to the old issues at the core of its Hindu revivalism in order to revive its fortunes in politically critical UP, where the BJP has been thrown to the political margins. Panchjanya has given prominence to a report from Meerut, alleging "rampant cow slaughtering" making the Ganga "red" with "blood" while saints take their dips in Allahabad. The article alleges the Akhilesh Yadav government has allowed the butchering of cows with cases of "arson, spreading communalism, loot and rioting" against so-called "cow protectors" in western UP.
But in West Bengal, where the BJP has never been a significant player, the Parivar sees a conspiracy by the Congress and the Left against Mamata Banerjee, who was once part of the NDA and recently quit the UPA. A "special focus" report in the Organiser seeks to downplay the remarks of an influential Muslim cleric who said Banerjee was lying in claiming to have fulfilled most of her promises to the minority community. The article, instead, seeks to project this as "veiled Muslim warnings (to) spoil social fabric" and appears to appeal on Banerjee's behalf that she has 42 months to deliver on her promises and that the community should not get restive. It also seeks to shore up the Banerjee government by claiming that her "rural base (has) not tilted".
The issue of the Ram temple at Ayodhya gets a lot of space in Panchjanya in the wake of the VHP's fresh assertion during a congregation of saints at the Maha Kumbh. An editorial reports the observation of a Supreme Court judge during the hearing on an appeal by the CBI in the case against L.K. Advani and other saffron leaders about their alleged role in the demolition of the Babri mosque. The observation that the CBI's counsel should desist from calling the 1992 episode a "national crime" has been highlighted by the editorial as an example of the CBI's prejudice under the Congress government. The editorial seeks to hurl the issue at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. It says that, had the Congress been reflective of the "DNA of India", it would also be agitated by the alleged razing of the Ram temple centuries ago. It accuses the Congress of being guided by the "DNA of Babar".
Compiled by Ravish Tiwari