There is no challenge to Narendra Modi and his far-right BJP a fact made more disturbing by the increase in attacks on Muslims and Dalits since he came to power (Photo: Creative Commons)
M Ghazali Khan
Notwithstanding the fact that the writing on the wall was clear, the landslide victory of extremist Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Legislative Assembly election in the largest Indian state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), has left almost everyone in shock and surprise.
The BJP’s stunning Legislative Assembly election success (securing 325 of the 403 seats) – is viewed as a precursor to their almost guaranteed victory in the 2019 General Elections.
In total BJP won in three of the five states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur – where assembly elections were held. In UP and Uttarakhand it managed to win as the single largest party. While through horse-trading and manipulations, it managed to form its government in Goa and Manipur despite losing there.
The BJP had won 282 out of 543 seats in the 2014 General Elections, but formed a coalition government and has been trying to impress upon the Hindu voters that in order to fully implement its Hindutva agenda it needs an absolute majority in both houses of Parliament.
This victory has not only made BJP the largest party in UP but it has also plunged the number of Muslim legislators from 64 to 25, meaning representation for UP’s 38.4 million Muslims (19.2% of the population) has dropped from 17.1% (the highest number since independence) to a measly 5.1%.
From anti-incumbency to anti-Muslim backlash and tempering with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), the BJP’s victory is being linked to various factors.
The fact, however, is that there was virtually no challenge to Narendra Modi and his party from the opposition, led by narrow-minded and self-centered-led coalition of Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) or by the narcissist Dalit leader Kumari Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
While Gandhi has proved to be one of the most unsuccessful leaders under whom the Congress has been continuously losing, in Yadav family feud, on who should lead the party, has repulsed Yadav voters on whom Akhilesh Yadav was relying. Mayawati was trying to entice Dalit and Muslim voters and had even fielded 99 Muslim candidates.
While Muslim votes got divided between the Congress, SP, BSP and some Muslim outfits that had also fielded their candidates, Yadavas and Dalit voters got attracted by BJP’s pro-Hindutva slogans abandoning Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati in favour of the BJP. Even in Muslim dominated areas like Deoband, for example, SP and BSP put up Muslim candidates resulting in BJP candidate’s easy victory. BJP has, thus, won 62 of 82 constituencies where Muslims comprise a third of the population.
Known though for his anti-Muslim hatred and for overseeing the Gujarat massacre of 2002, after taking over as India’s Prime Minister, Modi, talked of “sab ka saath sab ka vikas” (everybody on board and everybody’s development). Although among Muslims there were not many takers of this sweet assurance, the outside world saw him as a changed Modi with world powers and Muslim countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, rushing to give him a red-carpet treatment.
In practice, however, since Modi came to power, attacks on Muslims and Dalits have increased. High ranking BJP MPs have been given freedom to spread anti-Muslim hatred. Instead of any action being taken against them they have been promoted.
According to a new report published by the National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, 143 (36%) of the 403 elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits, 83 of whom are from the BJP.
Unsure of his victory in the UP assembly elections, Modi could not resist using his most tested and reliable formula of hate mongering and launching Islamophobic attacks. In the last phase of the campaign he tried to imply that SP, the party in power in UP, was “appeasing” Muslims and told a rally, “Ramzan me bijli athi hai tho Diwali me bhi ani chahiye; Bhed bhav nahiN hona chahiye (If there is electricity during Ramadan then it should be available during Diwali too; there shouldn’t be any discrimination)” and went on, “If there is a Kabaristaan, there should be Shamshaan too.”
The election campaign in UP was focused around Modi and not the issues. The most significant achievement attributed to him was described as him having “cut Muslims to size”.
It should be remembered that the demolition of Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992, took place during BJP’s tenure in UP and even in 2000 its Chief Minister, Ram Prakash Gupta, created an atmosphere of terror and harassment. In addition to taking several extreme pro-Hindutva measures, he also tried to pass UP Religious Places Bill that would have made it impossible for Muslims to repair or make even minor improvements in a mosque or madrasa without the permission of a commissioner.
Similarly in 2001, a report by a group of ministers, headed by L K Advani, on “Reforming the National Security System” branded Indian Muslims as a security risk. Following the commands of the Central Government, UP Government went a step further and issued a circular that said, “Every SHO [Station House Officer] will prepare a register of Muslims and Sikh families living in his perspective area; details of outsiders coming in his area should also be maintained and they be strictly watched…”
What lies ahead for Muslims in India should not leave anyone in doubt. In the latest development by amending The Enemy Property Act of 1968, BJP Government has deprived several Muslim families of their ancestral properties worth millions of Rupees. Enemy properties are the properties belonging to, or with a share in them of, Indians who had migrated to China or Pakistan.
In a ruling in 2005, the Supreme Court held that legal heirs who were Indian citizens could reclaim these so called enemy properties. However, the new law goes as far as barring civil courts from even hearing disputes related to “enemy properties”.
In Rajasthan, the BJP led Government has announced to change school textbooks to incorporate in them its version of history. Other promises it has made to its supporters include 1) Construction of the proposed Rama Temple on the site of Babri Mosque; 2) Imposition of replacing Muslim family laws with what it calls Uniform Civil Code. 3) Abolition of Muslim status of institutions including Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia of Delhi; 4) Depriving Jammu & Kashmir of its special status guaranteed under Article 370.
With Modi as the PM, a BJP President, who has to give final approval to a law of the country and a majority of its members in both houses in 2019, nothing will able to stop them from implementing Hindutva agenda or even changing the constitution and declare India a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu state) in which, according to RSS’ ideologue Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, “the foreign races [i.e. Muslims and Christians] … must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture i.e. of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizens’ rights. There should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do a deal, with the foreign races, which have chosen to live in our country.”
Otherwise, he warned, “German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races – Jews. Race Pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan [India] to learn and profit by.” (We; or, Our Nationhood Defined, Nagpur 1939)
As these lines are being written posters have been put up in a village near Bareilly ordering Muslim residents, “to leave immediately” while the newly elected MLA from Deoband has announced that he would table a proposal in the very first session of the assembly to change the name of the historic town of Deoband, that houses the world renowned seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, to “Dev Vrand”.