Skip to main content

Failure of Gujarat 'model'? Why hawking hatred for poll gains didn't succeed in Delhi

By RK Misra*
History repeats itself -- first as a mistake, second time as stupidity and thereafter as a tragedy -- invariably with lethal costs.
It began in 2002 as an experiment in crass communal cleaving to win elections in Gujarat and has endured up to February 2020 as the BJP pulled out all stops in ethnic animosity to wrest India’s capital, Delhi from the Aam Admi Party (AAP) only to fall flat on its face. A recap would be in order.
If AAP chief minister Arvind Kejriwal sought votes for his work, BJP toiled to unseat him through a vicious witch-hunt. The Prime Minister termed the ongoing Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi a proliferating mindset which needed to be checked.
His Home Minister Amit Shah wanted voters pressing the saffron button so hard that those protesting the CAA (Citizens Amendment Act) and NRC (National Register of Citizens) scamper home by counting evening.
Again, Union minister Prakash Javdekar termed Kejriwal a terrorist and BJP’s Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath named Pakistan 8 times in 48 seconds during his Delhi election rally.
When a debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Poison dripped every time the country’s rulers opened their mouth seeking to equate Muslims with Pakistanis and hindus or any other who voiced support as anti-national.
The violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Jamia Millia Islamia, both central universities, was used to queer the pitch as hotbed of anti-national activities.The entire exercise was aimed at communal polarization for electoral gains.
The answer to the bang-bang campaign came in the results on February 11 with just one resounding thud from the people of Delhi. BJP was washed away-a mere 8 seats to the AAPs 62 in a 70-member Delhi Vidhan Sabha -- and their voluble leaders left tongue-tied, Shah included. The Congress blanked out again.
Narratives may be pliable but facts are stubborn. The propagation of communal polarization as a poll strategy was initiated by chief minister Narendra Modi in 2002 in Gujarat and continues unchanged through numerous elections countrywide as he navigates his second term as Prime Minister.
The state has been the crucible of many political experiments from Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent Dandi salt satyagraha in March 1930 to the Navnirman students agitation in 1974 and Narendra Modi’s Gujarat Gaurav yatra in 2002.
Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement which commenced from the Sabarmati ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi in South Gujarat created the building blocks for the country’s eventual independence from British rule in 1947.
The Navnirman andolan (reconstruction stir) of 1974, termed as a crusade against corruption led to the fall of the Chimanbhai Patel-led Congress government and found echoes in the national movement led by Sarvodaya leader Jayprakash Narayan which installed the first non-Congress government in India led by another Gujarati, Morarji Desai in 1977.
Ironically, Chimanbhai Patel who had been expelled from the Congress returned as chief minister heading a Janata Dal-BJP coalition government (so much for BJP's corruption crusade).
The state became the harbinger of another political experiment after Narendra Modi took over as the chief minister in 2001.The statewide communal riots, that followed the 2002 Godhra train carnage left over a thousand people dead, a majority of them from the minority community.
However, in the Gujarat Gaurav yatra, taken out through the state, the target may have been the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (Mian Musharraf) but the imagery sought to be evoked was focused nearer home.
Similarly the name of the then chief election commissioner James Michael Lyngdoh would be spelled out in full to evoke Christian camaraderie with Congress President Sonia Gandhi whose Italian origins were also marked out for special mention. Minority bashing stood turned into a potent, poll campaign tool.
The 2002 Gujarat State Assembly election was the first example of a cleaving poll campaign-it now goes by the name of majoritarian politics- undertaken by chief minister Modi and reaped handsome results .
BJP steamrollered to 127 of the total 182 seats in the Gujarat state Assembly with Congress reduced to 51, Janata Dal (United) 2 and independents 2. Thereafter it evolved into a signature tune of the party under Modi-Shah leadership, unrecognizably distant from the Jan Sangh-BJP of the Atal Vajpayee era.
If it was Mian Musharraf in 2002, it was Kabristan-Shamshan in Uttar Pradesh, followed by ‘tukde-tukde’ and Shaheen Bagh
A cleaving campaign in such a context is when the majority community -- through direct or indirect methods-is suggestively led to believe of an enhanced threat from a minority. The political objective is to unite a religious majority under the shadow of a perceived threat to vote a party on religion, caste or creed considerations.
Modi ruled Gujarat for over 13 years and helmed the state through three Assembly elections with each one of them targeting the Congress, which ruled the Centre and was the main opposition in the state, as anti-Gujarat and pro-Muslim.
Modi was portrayed as the quintessential Hindu ‘hriday-samrat’ who was being targetted by Pakistan based terror groups ,the messiah of development who had turned Gujarat into a model state and was the subject of angst and envy-
After Modi took over at the Centre in 2014 with Amit Shah as his party president, majoritarian politics has been the centre-piece of every election whether state or central. If it was ‘ Mian Musharraf ‘ in 2002, it has been the ‘tukde-tukde’ gang thereafter or the ‘Kabristan-Shamshan’ issue raked up in Uttar Pradesh elections 2017 and now ‘Shaheen Bagh’ in the ensuing Delhi polls.
What is the intended implication of union minister Anurag Thakur’s missive that invited a ‘shoot the traitors chant’ except to widen the communal chasm for electoral advantage. BJP MP from West Delhi, Parvesh Sahib Singh, even did away with the fig leaf of a pretense altogether as he warned people that those gathering at Shaheen Bagh in South-East Delhi will ”enter your houses, rape sisters and daughters and kill them”.
It was a reckless communal pitch that was taken to a crescendo by the BJP in the Delhi Assembly election.
Since December 2018, the BJP has been vanquished in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, outmaneuvered in Maharashtra, is hanging onto the coattails of the Janayak Janta Party (JJP) to retain power in Haryana and has now been roundly thrashed in Delhi. Predictably repetitive, it is just not yielding the desired dividend, at least not in state elections.
Clearly, cleaving communities and hawking hatred on the streets for petty poll gains is a dangerous game with frightening national repercussions. Those who seek a place in history should well remember that the distance between a victor and a villain is just a shred of time!
---
*Senior journalist based in Gujarat. Blog: Wordsmiths & Newsplumbers

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.