“Our country faces grave danger from intellectuals and seculars than anyone else. If I was Home Minister, I would have issued orders to shoot them.”

That was Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, a Bharatiya Janata Party member of legislative assembly from Karnataka, delivering a Kargil Victory Day speech that gladdened the hearts of many in his party, as he declared secular Indians as a “bigger threat than Pakistan”.

Secularists are scandalised. Saner elements in the BJP dismiss Yatnal as one of those fringe, attention-seeking loonies. It is time to retire these softies or smoke them out. There are now so many real patriots, unafraid of speaking out, from within the ranks of India’s ruling party that it would be churlish to single out Yatnal. Indeed, there could not be a better vanguard of emerging Hindu nationalist India, this man of past stature. During the Vajpayee years, Yatnal was first Union minister of state for textiles and later for railways.

Yatnal is a likely candidate to regain stature. Only last month he said Muslims should not show up at his office, since they did not vote for him. He wasn’t, of course, punished, as the whiny secularists demanded, as is their wont. That would be kowtowing to “self-styled secularists and anti-nationals”, as the good Yatnal called those who “consume water and food of the country and use taxpayers’ money for their personal benefits”.

Real patriots

India, as we know, requires patriots who speak for Hindutva and nationalism, as defined by the BJP’s formidable intellectual think tank, to which people like Yatnal should speedily gain admission to supercharge the kind of national development we are now experiencing and have not for 70 years of minority pleasing anti-national rule.

The day to create a new creed of nationalist intellectualism and a new breed of Hindu nationalist intellectual is here. Yatnal reminds us that there are more thoughtful leaders in the BJP than we realised, and it is best that the party gives them their due sooner than later.

I do hope the party has also taken note of their member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh, the man with the blessed name of Hari Om Pandey, who at the other end of the country – the BJP, as they say, is an inclusive, pan-Indian party – provided further context to Yatnal’s thoughts. “The main problem in India is because [sic] terrorism, crimes, mob lynching are increasing, and the reasons for this is the population of the country,” said Pandey. “There’s a huge increase in the country’s population today compared with the time of independence, and the reason for that is one community, the Muslims.”

So, let’s understand this: Muslims are to blame for their own lynchings.

That’s seems about right.

Too much attention

Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, already said earlier this week that while mob lynchings should stop, they are “highlighted too much” and in any case cow smuggling and cow slaughter must first stop. We are told Muslims constitute 88% of the 34 who have died since 2014 in 87 violent cow-related attacks – with just one incident between 2010-’14 – but any nationalist must ask: What about cow rustling and attacks by cow smugglers? Yes indeed, one must compare violence by criminals and the murder of ordinary folk. Distraction, false equivalence and justifying the murder of anti-nationals – Yatnal only gave voice to the sentiments of the true nationalist – is a virtue that the nationalist intellectual must possess.

Many of these new intellectuals are subsumed in the BJP’s vast embrace. Some were spotted early and got their due, such as India’s minister for culture, Mahesh Sharma, who in 2016 draped the national flag over the coffin of a man accused of lynching a Muslim. There’s Anantkumar Hegde, Union minister of state for skill development, who was made minister because he was particularly skilled in saying it out loud and clear (and skilled at using that great nationalist weapon, fake news): Islam must be wiped out to bring peace; the Church is a conversion machine; the constitution will be changed; and that secular Indians were, basically – “without parental blood” – bastards.

Others must adjust their Harvard-given intellectual capacities and show they can shine in the bold, new India, such as Jayant Sinha, the Union minister of state for civil aviation, who garlanded and provided legal support to convicts who lynched a Muslim. To those who asked –
mostly secularists, and now we know why Yatnal said it’s best to stifle them now – why Sinha was garlanding murderers, should he have garlanded the murdered man’s widow?

Critical moment

This may be a matter of life and death for the new Indian nation, a matter of survival. You may not realise it, but this week another candidate for the new intellectual caucus reminded us what needed to be done. Surendra Singh, BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh said: “Hindus must produce at least five children to keep India strong and Hindutva intact.”

Remember, India isn’t there yet. Turkey is, Russia is, Hungary is – nations where the new nationalists have twice swept the secular sissies aside and cleared out the cobwebs of history. In these countries, secularists have been killed – or at least jailed – in numbers that will deter them from rising again. Yes, there’s Gauri Lankesh and a handful of others in India, but there are still anti-national institutions that try to stick to Constitutional duties. They do that with greater zeal in the United States, where the liberal namby pambies, using fake news, are putting up a stiff fight and doing all they can to hold back the Trumpian tide.

India does not have the luxury to indulge secularists and minorities. The time is coming to choose between the unholy and the holy, between the righteous and the rest, between those of the dark kabrasthan and those of the blessed shamshaan ghat. Yatnal spoke plainly enough, but to take the message to the uncoverted or the fence-sitters, one of the BJP’s thought leaders should explore that graveyard metaphor further and clearly warn us of the dangers of five becoming 20, hum panch, hamaare pachees, if you know what I mean.

Oh, wait.

Samar Halarnkar is the editor of IndiaSpend, a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit.