By Inamul Haq
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has completed its tenure of four years in 2018 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. People’s expectations have remained unfulfilled as employment, infrastructure, education, health, and abolition of poverty haven’t shown any marked improvement. Within a month to coming to power, the party issued a ban on beef in Maharashtra first and then in Jammu and Kashmir. The RSS, which was banned in the past, has become more vigorous. Dalits, Muslims, and Christians have become targets of assault and lynching in the name of saving cows. The emboldened cow vigilantes (Gau Rakshaks) have started lynching Muslims on the mere suspicion of eating and possessing beef. After beef lynching started, the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, called for a law banning cow slaughter across the country, which was passed in various states. His view was further supported by the Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya, who said that the UPA government had not shown any will to act against those involved in illegal cow slaughter, but the present regime would do everything to protect the bovine population. Similarly, the Home Minister of Rajasthan, Gulab Chand Kataria, said that anyone found slaughtering cows would be punished. While visiting the Narmada, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, said that the rivers of milk and ghee would soon flow in the state, owing to the new law banning cow slaughter. Nirmala Sitharaman, the present defence minister, stated that cow protection was the spirit behind India’s freedom movement. The cow politics of the BJP is an attempt to gain the support of the Hindu community.
Besides cow, the politics of the BJP also has emphasized the medieval Indian history by dubbing the Mughals, from Babar to Aurangzeb, as foreigners. The BJP member parliament, Mahesh Giri, participated in a conference (“Aurangzeb & Dara Shikoh: A tale of Two Brothers”) on 10 February, 2018 as a chief guest. In his speech, he dubbed the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb a ‘terrorist’ and his brother Dara Shikoh a ‘scholar’. The BJP has not only tried to revise past history, it has openly issued threats to Indian Muslims, who have been variously addressed as traitors, anti-nationals, fundamentalists, Pakistanis, mullahs, etc. On 25 February, the BJP MLA from Utter Pradesh, Surendra Narain Singh, made another controversial remark and said that those who refused to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ were Pakistanis. Earlier, he had also remarked that India would be free of Muslims by 2024 and it would be a complete Hindu Rashtra.
Such statements from the BJP and the Sangh Parivar have become a regular occurrence, since the party’s attempt to reinvent nationalism. It is surprising that neither the Prime Minister nor any other minister has condemned these statements. These statements are made to demoralize Indian Muslims and hide the shortcomings of the present government. The BJP MLA from Rajasthan, Banwari Lal Singhal, alleged that Muslims were bearing more children with an aim to outnumber Hindus and to take control of the country by 2030. Posting on his Facebook, he wrote, “Muslims were giving birth to 12-14 children…while Hindus restrict the number to one or two. The way the Muslim population is increasing, the existence of Hindus is in danger. It is a well-planned conspiracy to have a Muslim in the chair of president, prime minister, and chief ministers.”
After the Karnataka elections, the mockery that the BJP faced has impacted Muslims one way or the other. After the party failed to get a majority and form government, Muslims were held responsible and termed a vote bank for the Congress. Last month, a video of former union minister and BJP MLA, Basangouda Patil Yatnal, went viral in which he is seen exhorting corporates to work only for Hindus, who have voted for him, and not for Muslims. “I had called all corporates and have told them that they should work for Hindus and not Muslims…who have voted for me in Bijapur,” Yatnal is purportedly heard saying in the video. He further said, “I had said no to Muslims initially…I had instructed my people that those with topi (cap) and burkha should not come and stand in my office or beside me.”
When the country was previously ruled by the NDA under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it saw hope for peace and brotherhood among different communities. However, the new government under Narendra Modi has ushered in a new cycle of violence against minorities. The Gau Rakshaks, VHP, Bajrang Dal, and other fundamentalist Hindu organizations are targeting Muslims in broad daylight with the support of police as well as ministers of the BJP. Babar, Akbar, and Aurangzeb are evoked to divert the people’s attention, so that they forget the promises made when the government came to power. The agenda is to keep alive animosity between communities for electoral benefit.
Inamul Haq is a Ph.D. candidate at the Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India.
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