Ominous signs

Kashmir Times. Dated: 3/14/2017 12:24:31 PM

Message of Hindutva assertion from UP is loud and clear despite multiple factors impacting BJP victory

The phenomenal clear majority to Bhartiya Janta Party in Uttar Pradesh elections is significant to understand the likely future course of politics in India. Though, barring Uttrakhand, BJP has not been able to maintain lead over the Congress in the other five states that just went to elections and also badly lost Punjab in alliance with Shriomani Akali Dal, Uttar Pradesh being the largest state in the country is far more likely to dictate the discourse of politics in this country. The Congress, followed by Aam Aadmi Party did well in Punjab primarily because of disenchantment with the corrupt politics of the SAD and the charismatic leadership of Amarinder Singh. The BJP on its own has little presence in Punjab and it also focused less on this state. Besides, the local issues seem to have been the biggest focal point in the Punjab elections unlike UP, where development agenda and local issues played a far more subservient role with BJP romping home an unprecedented majority, while improving its 2014 Lok Sabha election record, simply by focusing on Ram temple politics and raking up the shamshan-kabristan issue. The most jarring message from UP thus is that of Hindutva assertion. BJP's victory in Uttar Pradesh may indeed be an outcome of multiple factors. Split within Samajwadi Party, division of Muslim and secular votes between SP and Bahujan Samajwadi Party, fantastic vote bank engineering by the BJP in consolidating upper caste Hindu vote bank and in making dents in the Dalit vote-bank, the unimpressive leadership of the Congress as well as the terror attack in Lucknow coinciding with the last two phases of the elections, may have gone a long way in swelling the vote bank of the BJP. Following the elections and its most unexpected outcome, there have been allegations of misuse and tampering of Electronic Voting Machines. At this moment, there is no concrete evidence to jump to such conclusions. The constituency and segment wise break-up of votes, which may come in the next few days, alone can shed some light on whether the massive victory of BJP was shaped simply by division of secular and minority votes or whether indeed there is reason to believe there was some foul play. Whatever be the case, it does not mellow down the potent element of Hindu assertion in Uttar Pradesh which has rallied behind BJP, perhaps not despite the rabidly communal jargon of its electioneering campaign but because of it, perhaps. If development and local issues had played a more dominant role, then it was Akhilesh who would have had the edge with his fairly decent performance card during his last tenure as chief minister barring allegations of multiple cases of hooliganism and his inability to keep communal polarization under check. This Hindu assertion does not simply translate into strengthening of the majority community but of the language this majoritarian mindset is speaking with an unabashed appetite for Mandir politics and kabristan politics.
In other words, the UP elections reveal the acceptability of communal politics in a vast chunk of public of India and this is what makes the UP election results a matter of grave concern. In light of acceptability of communal politics, Hindutva assertion is likely to guide the future of politics in this country, atleast for some time to come. Delusions that the communal card was picked up by the BJP solely to win elections must be discarded. Any false illusions that the majority discourse in the country can never be so jarringly and rabidly communal must also be shed if a fair introspection be done and if secular elements need to chalk out their future strategies to reclaim the secular space. The UP vote bank has clearly endorsed and mandated this politics of communalism, and willingly so. Why should the RSS backed BJP, nurtured by the politics of hate and polarization, be tempted to shed it so soon? The greatest worry is that the Hindutva daggers, that were already emboldened post Narendra Modi's rise to power in 2014, will be out in a far more brazen form, altering the very idea of India. That this election will have a bearing on the election to the post of the president and in due course of time also have an impact on the constitution of the upper house of the parliament can also not be ruled out. Overall, the scenario is grim.



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