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Sharp rise in 'divisive talk' to increase hold of majoritarian nationalism for poll gain

By Ram Puniyani* 

For majoritarian nationalism, communal divisive propaganda has been a major plank for increasing the hold in the electoral arena through promoting hate. The module of Hindu nationalist politics has centred around two major planks. One, glorification of the ancient past, the era when the values of Manusmriti were the social norm. And two, the distortion of history, particularly the medieval history. Here, temple destruction and conversion to Islam by force have been major falsehoods.
On this foundation they have been adding other issues through their vast network. So far the Babri demolition was used to propagate that Mughal rulers destroyed Hindu temples to humiliate the Hindus. It has been a major key of their falsehoods among others. Adding on to this during current general elections, eating meat has been twisted to intensify the same track.
Recently one visual of Tejaswi Yadav eating fish on 8th April was circulated. The Navratra, the holy month of Sawan as per Hindu calendar, when many Hindus hold that non-vegetarian food should not be consumed, began from 9th April. Barrage was unleashed against Yadav for insulting the feelings of Hindus by eating non-vegetarian during the the holy month.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have mastered the art of twisting facts, using communal historiography to intensify hate and communal propaganda. He seized this opportunity with both hands. He recalled that last year Lalu Yadav and Rahul Gandhi cooked and consumed meat during this holy month. He shrewdly combined meat eating during Savan with the destruction of temples by the Mughals: 
“When the Mughals attacked here, they were not satisfied with defeating the ruling king, unless they broke the temples and destroyed the places of worship. They found enjoyment in that. In the same way, by showing the video in the month of Savan, they want to provoke the people of the country with the Mughal mentality.” 
 As per him the videos were uploaded by his political rivals for 'vote-bank' politics!
The issue of temple destructions by kings has been extensively researched by outstanding historians like Richard Eaton among others to show that temple destruction was also done by Hindu kings as well. Muslims kings also gave a lot of donations to Hindu temples. Kalhan’s classic "Rajtarangini" describes how Raja Harshdev, a Hindu King of Kashmir, appointed a special officer to uproot the idols of Hindu Gods, those made of Gold and Silver, from Hindu temples. Then there instances when Aurangzeb gave donations to Hindu temples as well.
In the game of sectarian nationalism, truth is the biggest casualty. Interpretations based on such communal mindset are far away from the reality of social affairs. As the Indian Nation Congress released its election manifesto, Nyaya Patra based on affirmative justice for weaker sections of society, Modi was prompt enough to state that this manifesto has the imprint of the Muslim League of yore. 
Others from his cabal have also mastered this art of using the the dog whistle. Yogi Adityanath in an innocuous looking sentence stated that criminals in UP will have to face jail or jahanum (hell). He also brought forward the issue of Haji Malang, a shrine close to Mumbai being claimed to be a Hindu shrine, Malang Gadh. This is on the lines of Baba Budan Giri Dargah campaign which gave strength to BJP in Karnataka three decades back.
Adding on to these, Modi is spreading the fear that if the INDIA alliance comes to power it will redistribute wealth to ‘Infiltrators’. By this he is giving a signal that Muslims who have come from Bangladesh will be given away wealth. In the same breath he said,  Congress will give your wealth to those with more children. He actually tried to suggest that the Congress wants to appease the Muslims.
The ‘scare of infiltrators’ was exposed when the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was sought to be implemented in Assam. Out of 19 lakh people who did not have proper papers, 13 lakh were Hindus! As for the talk about those having more children, the latest fertility data reveal that these are declining among Muslims, and at present the average Muslim women’s rate of fertility is marginally higher than the national average among Hindus, and if current trend continues, it may become very close soon.
One is reminded of the propaganda of the Hindu right that Dr Manmohan Singh had stated that Muslims have the first right on national resources. This was in the aftermath of Sachar Committee Report 2006, when the committee showed that the economic, social and political condition of Muslims was worsening over the years. What he  stated was totally different. He had said, 
"I believe our collective priorities are clear: agriculture, irrigation and water resources, health, education, critical investment in rural infrastructure, and the essential public investment needs of general infrastructure, along with programs for the upliftment of SC/STs, other backward classes, minorities and women and children.”
How the Hindu right-wing is capable of distorting  facts to suit political propaganda becomes clear in most of these instances. Spreading hate against Muslim and condemning those who dare to talk of affirmative action on rational grounds is a strict no for this political formation thriving on divisive politics.
Over the years its propaganda tools have become sharper and its mechanism of spreading lies has reached a point where it concocts narratives which demonize the religious minorities, Muslims in this case. Also, it constructs an anti-Hindu image for those sticking to the norms of democracy and values of the Constitution. 
The powerful media is at present backing this effort to the hilt and is creating a ‘social common sense’, which is totally opposed to the plural ethos of India, which has been developed over a period of centuries, culminating in the greatest ever mass movement in the world, our freedom struggle.
It is time that the components of INDIA alliance give truthful rejoinder to the falsehoods of majoritarinan politics.
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*Well known political commentator. See:  Youtube, Facebook, Instagram,
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