Skip to main content

Dangers of vigilante politics: How Adityanath on becoming UP chief minister legitimized violence in public life

By Pushkar Raj*
The country is experiencing a spate of violence with cases of lynching in different parts of India. The citizen is hapless and government is unresponsive betraying its authoritarian tendencies rooted in its ideology.
Over a couple of decades , BJP has grown on vigilante politics rooted in ideology of RSS and Hindutva, a distorted interpretation of Hinduism which is based on Vedic philosophy priding in its diversity than dogma and exclusion that the former advocates.
The major vigilante act by the Hindutva affiliates was the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992, carried out by outfits sympathetic to BJP; some of those are currently being prosecuted for that crime. The BJP formed a coalition government in 1998.
Yogi Adityanath, a BJP member of parliament, founded a vigilante group Hindu Yuva  Vahini in Uttar Pradesh in 2002  to confront Muslims onlove jihad, beef and conversion.  The organization terrorized and persecuted Muslims and polarized Hindus helping BJP get 71 parliamentary seats in 2014 elections paving way for Narender Modi to become the Prime Minister. Modi faced allegations of collusion in 2002 Gujarat riots while being the chief minister of the state.
Yogi Adityanath became the chief minister of the UP in March 2017 when BJP secured three fourth of majority in the state assembly elections. He continues to be the chief patron of the Hindu Yuva Vahini that has criminal charges against it related to Gorakhpur, 2007 and Mau, 2005 riots; in the latter nine people were killed.
The minority vigilante groups may have several motivations, but the vigilante of majority is undoubtedly for the subjugation of minorities; it is clear in Yogi Adityanath becoming the chief minister of UP legitimizing violence in public life as a means to political end.

Vigilant Politics and Authoritarianism

The political leaders emerging out of majoritarian vigilante politics tend to be authoritarian because they are the product of emotions of fear and anger hence need to appear tough and decisive. They realize that they are in power despite the law and therefore need not care for it more than it suits them.
Beginning with Uttar Pradesh people across the country are unable to enjoy their personal freedoms with which they have grown up, such as where to go, whom to befriend and marry, or what to eat and say.  In short, people are being prevented to be normal adults.
In a press briefing, Uttar Pradesh police claimed that under the anit-Romeo campaign they questioned nearly 700 people and issued warning to nearly half the number. Eleven students of Lucknow University spent 20 days in jail forprotesting against a programme in which Yogi was participating.
The new chief minister closed slaughter houses causing  a domino effect across the Hindi heartland leading to  issuing of new rules by the central government (since stayed by the Supreme Court) effectively wiping out the meat industry, and rendering  millions of people without means of livelihood and cheap source of food.
One major difference between the authoritarian and totalitarian regime is that in the former some institutions are out of control of the government.  Economic institution, judiciary and media have largely been out of control of the government in the country but now they have also come under pressure.
In November 2016, without consulting the Reserve Bank of India, the prime minister declared 86 percent of country’s currency frozen, causing hardship, chaos and deaths of over 150 people across the country whatAmartya Sen called a “despotic action”.
The government rejected  43 names out of 77 names that the Supreme Court Collegium had recommended for appointment to various high courts as it locked in a battle over control of appointment of judges after the Supreme Court struck down National Judicial Appointment Commission Act asserting its independence under the constitution.
The government raided the owners of a prominent news channel, in the backdrop of ruling party’s spokesperson accusing the media house of bias and agenda on a live programme. The raids were described by the noted constitutional expert, Fali  Nariman  as an attempt to de-legitimize media.
In a society where violence is legitimized to achieve political ends, authortarian tendencies emerge at the expense of rule of law, order and civility. However, given India’s long tradition of plurality, Gandhian legacy and a cosmopolitan middle class these aberrations are likely to be fiercely challenged drawing additional battlelines in the country.
---
Melbourne-based researcher and author

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Historic Chikhalda, temples, mosques submerged, activists 'rescue' Gandhi idol

By Medha Patkar
The first farmer of Asia was born in Chikhalda, if one is to believe archaeological researchers. A historic village, 50 percent of its population is of Hindus and 50 percent of Muslims, yet it has always remained peaceful. Chikhalda has struggled to save water, land and people along Narmada river.

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…

South Gujarat wastewater carrying pipeline damaged, 'harming' farmlands

By Our Representative
The pipeline carrying industrial wastewater to the Gulf of Khambhat from Jhagadia industrial estate in Bharuch district has been found to have damaged for the eighth time over the last one and a half months. The crack, says a local environmental organisation, has occurred at Hansot, endangering agricultural farms.