In the last one year, Uttar Pradesh has seen a spurt in communal riots incidents. Data from IB reports for the first eight months of the year till August 31 pegs the figure at 80. So it’s no coincidence that the politics of projecting Modi as future prime minister by the RSS and BJP also gained momentum during this period. That matters were moving in such a direction became obvious on August 25 itself, during the VHP’s aborted chaurasi kosi parikrama (CKP) yatra. Around 10 days before the CKP, senior VHP leaders had a two-hour-long closed door meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav. No one knows exactly what transpired, but it can be safely speculated that there was consensus on some enacted rivalry between the two. The events thereafter prove the theory, one could say. The effect of that strategy was evident in the happenings in Muzaffarnagar and the small communal clashes in other parts of eastern and western Uttar Pradesh.
The political ramifications of the CKP are much larger, a double-pronged approach polarising the rightist Hindutva votebank while also helping the ‘minority politics’ card of the Samajwadi Party (SP). As Hindu votes unite, its opposite number, the Muslims, too will come together. The posturing of the Hindutva forces is bound to see a counter, triggering a fear psychosis all around. Echoes of this are already reverberating across the state.
BJP and SP: win-win situation
In all this, two political parties, the BJP and the SP, stand to gain the most. As chaos prevails, both get a chance to fish in troubled waters, a win-win situation—‘match-fixing’ if you will. For the BJP, the dynamics of the communal rage being whipped up by fringe saffron outfits will bring the party centrestage after a long political oblivion. As a natural corollary, Muslims will rally around Mulayam who they see as their protector in UP. Piquantly, both parties have a common political enemy here, the Congress.
The BJP’s favourite exhibit—Modi’s ‘development plus’ image—is even now fairly blunt in UP and Bihar. People here still see him more as Gujarat’s saviour rather than that of the nation. The party also knows that while Modi is their main strength in many places, he is also their “terrible weakness”. Their fear is that as a reaction to Modi, Muslim votes will shift to the Congress en bloc. At whatever cost, this they have to stop. For them, the SP is a “lesser evil”. Meanwhile, the SP is afraid of losing its votebank to the Congress, given its record of bad governance in UP. But with the communal polarisation, the Muslim votebank has nowhere else to go.
The 2012 assembly polls, though, undid most of the damage with the Muslims flocking back. But within months, the saffron parties were crying themselves hoarse over Muslim appeasement and the alleged heavy-handed dealings of some of the SP’s minority leaders. That aside, the fact that the communal cauldron was on the boil was plain for everyone to see. The social fabric in UP today is extremely fragile. Even small skirmishes are taking the shape of ugly communal clashes. Just last Saturday, Dallipur, under Kandhai police station in Allahabad district, witnessed such a case. It was a small incident, a youth having a small argument at an electronics shop belonging to a member of the minority community. Soon, the two communities were baring fangs at each other. A small error and another ugly clash might have erupted. Similarly, backstreet fights and alley clashes are taking a communal colour all over UP. One reflection of such contesting fractures was seen in the Muzaffarnagar riots.
BJP, RSS and the Communalisation of Politics
The RSS, which had been lying low since 2009, has become very active, even issuing a whip to the shakhas to mobilise the cadre. It all went into high gear after Narendra Modi was declared chief of the BJP election committee. Saffron hardliners like VHP leader Ashok Singhal have already started cranking up the war machine, setting up camp in Ayodhya. Meanwhile, the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh in-charge and Modi’s No. 2 man, Amit Shah, tilak-chandan in place, is all over the newspaper inside pages. Now he’s camping in Ayodhya, declaring Ramjanmabhoomi will be a major issue in 2014, then he’s in Mathura and western UP spreading the message that Modi will begin his campaign from Mathura, the god Krishna’s birthplace, thus emphasising the mythic link between Mathura and Dwaraka in Gujarat. Linking the Kanphata Yogis of Gorakhnath with Hindu politics is another strategy. The mahant there is Avaidyanath and his young successor and MP is Mahant Adityanath—the duo represent a strong pillar of Hindutva in the region. Their controversial Hindu Yuva Vahini is very strong in eastern UP and the areas bordering Nepal. It’s to be seen what they will make out of the NaMo yug of the BJP.
The RSS has decided it will start 40 new shakhas in every district. The idea of villages as a centre of Hindutva activities is also gaining currency. Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat recently said there was a need to search for a “nayak” (hero icon) in every village. A Hindutva awareness programme is also on, with collection centres in the villages for old iron implements, to be later used to construct the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Patel. It seems the politics of shilanyas still has something going for the saffronites. In the vitiated air in the state, another perennial issue of Hindu politics, cow slaughter (goksi), is also getting much play. In north India, it’s mostly Muslims and Dalits who are in the dead animal skins and bones trade. In UP and Bihar, it is believed that cows—old and otherwise—are never slaughtered by the Dalits. The blame is always on the Muslims. An RSS bid to spread such hysteria was seen in a case in Azamgarh recently.
All in all, it’s become evident that both the Samajwadi Party and the saffron forces are playing a very dangerous game in fuelling the communal cauldron, and all for a few votes. What the endgame will be and how much it will cost the people of Uttar Pradesh will be evident in the next few months.
(The author is professor, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad University)
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Congress and others did vote bank politics for sixty years, now it is BJP's turn to do the same. Those who are disturbed today by the recent developments were silent or complicit when some parties did this. Even today other parties are just doing that. Some are eyeing the hindu votes, some are looking for muslim votes. More votes means more notes in the pockets.
BJP gains in polls after every riot, says Yale study
GANDHINAGAR: While many within the Congress blame its electoral debacle to the party's obsession with "minority appeasement", a recent study conducted by three political scientists of the Yale University claim that had Congress lost all close elections between 1962 and 2000, there could have been 10% more communal riots in the country.
Gareth Nellis, Michael Weaver, Steven Rosenzweig, political scientists from the Yale University in their paper titled "Do parties matter for ethnic violence? Evidence from India", have maintained that "the election of a single Congress MLA in a district brought about a 32% reduction in the probability of a riot breaking out prior to the next election. Simulations reveal that had Congress candidates lost all close elections in our dataset, India would have faced 10% more riots and thousands more riot casualties".
"The pacifying effect of Congress incumbency appears to be driven by local electoral considerations, in particular the party's exceptionally strong linkages to Muslim voters during the period we investigate," they have written. They further maintain that "riots produce ethnic polarization that benefits ethno-religious parties at the expense of the Congress". The paper maintains that while the Hindu-Muslim riots are electorally costly for the Congress, these riots in in effect strengthen the "ethno-religious parties at the expense of multi-ethnic ones like the Congress".
Analysing the effect of riots on the vote share of "Hindu nationalist parties", the paper notes that "the BJS/BJP saw a 0.8 percentage point increase in their vote share following a riot in the year prior to an election". "The polarization of the electorate induced by riots disadvantages Congress in subsequent elections, making it counter-productive for the party's affiliates to instigate riots following an electoral loss," the paper notes.
"In addition, local Muslim voters — on whom the Congress depended for votes — would presumably have looked unfavorably towards Congress orchestrating riots in which Muslims were the principal victims. This would make instigating riots a highrisk strategy where there are large Muslim populations, yet this is precisely where we find the effect of Congress to be strongest," the paper adds.
From Kashmir Times, 26 October 2013 Editorial
Communal fascist onslaught.
Secular forces must realize the growing threat to the country’s pluralism....The RSS has a clear agenda of making India as a Hindu Rashtra, where minorities and dalits have no place.
The growth of BJP into a major political party in the country was simply due to the failure of secular parties and leaders, particularly the Congress, to understand the real character of this organization.
It is for the secular parties and leaders to realize the grave threat posed by these rising communal fascist forces which, if allowed to succeed, can not only change the basic secular democratic character of the country, but also pose a serious threat even to India’s unity and integrity. Time for them to rise above narrow partisan considerations and mobilize the people to isolate these forces of communalism and bigotry. The Congress, in particular, needs to do some introspection, reoorient its policies and programmes by steadfastly adhering to secular, democratic and socialist ideology.
That the rise of Modi has been mirrored by increase in the Hindutva fervour is a fact only the very motivated will deny. UP has seen a sharp increase in Hindutva activism bolstered by their conviction that Modi would be their saviour and herald to a new future.
The Muslims who had after a reasonably long peaceful time begun looking to issues of growth and development and had slowly begun emerging out of the fear psychosis that the Mullahs would love them to remain in, have been struck again by this bolt.
This is not to deny that the Islamists were and are very active in fuelling the fear and delusions of Islamists victory and fruits of Jannat for the 'martyrs'.
Samajwadi Party with its idiotic leadership and vision of "Muslim vote" played a naked hand of 'extreme minorityism' in the daily administration of the state. The mind and heart of even ordinary Hindu, ususally 'secular' got poisoned
In this environment any tiny spark was sufficient for a conflagration and SP through sheer political chicanery and then crude and stupid behaviour caused an eruption of anger and frustration building up over a long time but not finding a viable support till advent of Modi on the horizon as a Hindu Messiah.
That only explains the high rate of violence and the high Muslim casualty despite administarative and political collusion with the Muslim rioters.
Real outcome of the event is that Modi will find it very hard to make thse followers who would like him to annihilate all 'enemies of Hindutva', turn to peaceful and growth oriented stable society.
Even if Modi wants to take some sort of Centrist position, these Hindutva forces may not allow him.
That would be the real tragedy.
It's funny how lies have been perpetuated by all pAIDMEDIA AND PAID academicians.
What does this douchebag have to say how SP, Azam Khan, CONGis let all rioters go free and told Police to go slow until all Muslims kill Hindus?
Check India today expose where polce admitted all the plan of CONGis and SP, Muslim ministers.
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