Modi’s Return to Power Will further Strengthen ‘Hindutva’
By Sajjad Shaukat
In the Indian general elections of 2019, BJP and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won huge majority in the Lok Sabha, with the BJP sweeping up 303 seats on its own—21 seats more than it won in the 2014 elections. Across most of North and Central India, BJP candidates also won with bigger vote shares and wider victory margins than in 2014.
Hindu majority was mobilized on ‘hate Muslim’ slogans and ‘anti-Pakistan’ jargons, while the incessant and unjust Indian propaganda against the Muslims and Pakistan was beyond anybody’s cognition, which still keeps on going.
Indian Prime Nerendar Modi’s extremist party BJP had got a land sliding triumph in the Indian elections 2014 on the basis of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan slogans. Indian election-campaign against Islam, Muslims and Pakistan enabled BJP hardliner Modi to become Indian prime minister. Whereas, the Muslim community in India had felt alienated, frightened and perturbed, as most of them were also effectively disenfranchised.
Muslims were already aware of Modi’s agenda to reduce the Muslim community in India to second class citizens, and had felt nervous and gloomy. Their anxiety was multiplying due to the fact that during the election-campaign, the BJP was also speaking of Hindu deep seated animosity against Pakistan and Pakistani public.
In this regard, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of Muslims, assaults on Muslims, including their places of worships and property by the fanatic Hindu mobs, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, forced conversion of Muslims into Hindus and ban on beef and cow slaughter clearly showed that encouraged by the Hindu fundamentalist groups such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena, including other similar parties have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating the ideology of ‘Hindutva’ (Hindu nationalism) which is the genesis of Hindu terrorism.
However, BJP played the same anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan card to gain votes of a majority of Hindus in the general elections 2019. Therefore, since the Prime Minister Modi returned to power, he has been implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda with the support of fanatic coalition outfits to further strengthen the ideology of ‘Hindutva’.
It is notable that very tension escalated rapidly between New Delhi and Islamabad when on February 27, this year, in response to the Indian so-called pre-emptive air strike near the town of Balakot, close to the border with Pakistan’s sector of Kashmir, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets and launched aerial strikes at six targets in the Indian Occupied (IOK).
In this respect, the aftermath of the false flag terror attack at Pulwama and the so-called surgical strikes were manipulated by New Delhi against Islamabad as the election-stunt. But, truth about India’s surgical strikes unmasked, when Indian top civil and military leaders failed in providing any evidence.
The myth of Indian surgical strikes was further exposed, when, referring to the statement of the Indian India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who admitted on April 18, 2019 that no Pakistani soldier or citizen died in the air strike carried out by IAF across the border in Balakot, Director General of Pakistan Army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj-Gen. Asif Ghafoor stated on April 19, 2019: “After India finally admitted that their so-called air strike carried on February 26 in Balakot caused no deaths and casualties…Hopefully, so will be about other false Indian claims [such as] surgical strike of 2016, denial of shooting down of two Indian Air Force [IAF] jets by Pakistan Air Force and claims about F16…Better late than never.”
Besides, owing to the huge mandate of the BJP, violence has been let loose, with “Jai Shri Ram”–a slogan that roughly translates to “Hail Lord Ram”. As Modi was named as the leader of the NDA for a second time, minority communities especially Muslims have made to live in fear by the extremist Hindus.
In this connection, in the aftermath of the election results, news reports have highlighted different cases in which Dalits and particularly Muslims were violently targeted for reasons as varied as allegedly possessing beef, protesting against caste-based discrimination or simply being Muslim. Particularly, various incidents of arrests, violent assaults on the Muslims, including even killings by the Hindus have been recorded.
In one of the worst incidents, a 15-year-old Muslim boy was set on fire on July 29, this year by four Hindus in Chandauli district of Uttar Pradesh. The teenager was allegedly forced to chant Jai Shri Ram.
While, in the run-up to May’s general elections and after the results were declared, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of Bengal, was constantly heckled by BJP mobs to shout, “Jai Shri Ram”.
Nevertheless, persecution of the Muslims continues unabated in India and the BJP-ruled central government has been largely silent in this regard.
In this connection, Hindu-Muslim communal tension flared up in Old Delhi’s Hauz Qazi on July 1, this year after 3 or 4 Hindu boys, including 45-year-old Sanjeev Kumar Gupta tortured a Muslim boy Aas Mohammad (20) on alleged wrong parking of motor bike on night of June 30, 2019 outside his house next to the temple. Muslims of the area observed shutter down strike. During protest, another scuffle took place between Hindus and Muslims, which resulted into increased tensions. A group of Muslims damaged two Mandirs in the area. However, no casualty took place.
India’s Central Reserve Police (CRPF) cordoned the areas of Darya Gunj, Pahar Gunj, Lal Kunwan, Jamia Masjid and Chandni Chowk with unannounced curfew like situation. New Delhi ensured a complete black-out of the incident in print and electronic media.
According to the India Today, “Politicians giving communal spin to the incident: Sanjiv Kumar, man involved parking scuffle in Delhi, speaks to India Today…Reiterating that there was no intention to give the Hauz Qazi incident a communal colour…Politicians end up giving communal colour to everything. Whether it is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), there is no exception.”
It is mentionable that even foreign print and electronic media and analysts opined, “Modi’s election win is a victory for far right Hindu nationalism…India’s secular democracy is under threat…BJP’s record in 2015-2019 has been divisive to say the least. The party has marginalised religious minorities, especially Muslims, from public life with many, as a result, being lynched by Hindu nationalists in the name of cow protection…Jingoism and Islamophobia has propelled the BJP to an even stronger showing than in 2014. A Modi victory puts India’s 200 million Muslims in danger…Modi is part of the large Hindu supremacist family…In his home state of Odisha, he furthered India’s sectarian divide, pushed the idea of Hindu supremacy and with that, violence against Muslims, Christians and other minorities…Modi is radicalising Muslims.”
It is noteworthy that P.M. Modi has been consolidating his grip on power through hand-picked choices, based upon anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric. He has included hardliner and extremist ministers in the cabinet, while ministries of some ministers were changed by replacing them. And the appointments to the top posts in the external and domestic intelligence agencies were made by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chairman of this committee. In this regard, the Modi government on June 26, 2019 appointed a new head of the intelligence agency RAW. Reports suggests that Samant Goel, an officer from the national police cadre, IPS, as is the national security adviser Ajit Doval, played a key role in India’s air attack on Balakot. The government has also appointed senior IPS officer Arvind Kumar as the director of the Intelligence Bureau. He is said to be as an expert on the troubled disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Nonetheless, we can note that the Constitution declares India to be a secular state, granting equal rights to the religious minorities, but in practice, ideology of ‘Hindutva’ prevails. Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the extremist Hindu parties have been propagating ‘Hindutva’ agenda. After the election victory of the BJP and its coalition parties led by the fundamentalist Prime Minister Modi, Muslim anxiety in India is increasing due to the fact that like the previous elections, during the election-campaign of 2019, Hindu majority was mobilized on the anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim slogans. Now, encouraged by his unprecedented return to power, Modi will further strengthen ‘Hindutva’
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations