Hardik, Hindutva & Gujarat’s Patel rap: Everybody needs an enemy

Kamlesh Singh
Kamlesh SinghAug 27, 2015 | 18:52

Hardik, Hindutva & Gujarat’s Patel rap: Everybody needs an enemy

Bhagalpur, 1989

The city had erupted in communal riots. Among those caught in the midst were students who came from far-flung areas and lived in college hostels and private "lodges" around the university area, some pockets of which were predominantly Muslim. The city was put under curfew and most students couldn’t communicate with their families, who imagined the worst. Rumours flew of how students were killed and dumped in wells. Truth is the first victim when a city is under curfew. At my place, about 90km from Bhagalpur, young cousins were talking revenge when a wise uncle intervened, “After Muslims, it will be your turn. They will come for you next.” I still remember the silence that followed.


We love Hollywood disaster movies because the apocalyptic scenes bring the best out of humanity. Alien movies do the same. It’s comforting to see Christians, Muslims, Blacks, Whites, Buddhists and atheists all forgetting what divides them and discover what unites them: The Enemy. We are as united as strong our enemy is. In these fictional stories, the director has the freedom to create the enemy in ways that the enemy seems invincible. The Godzilla gets bigger and more powerful in the next instalment.

Laboratory experiment

Outside fiction, directors of mayhem do that. The enemy is identified, isolated, exaggerated, Godzilla-sized to unite an otherwise fragmented group for purposes that serve the directors’ interests. When the overt Hindutva experiment began in Gujarat, the Muslim was made the enemy. Ahmedabad saw frequent curfews because of communal riots triggered by stabbings or stone-pelting or sometimes a simple case of road rage. Muslims were branded as troublemakers.

The Old City (on the eastern banks of the Sabarmati) would be under curfew, while the western part would be perfectly normal. An imaginary wall existed between Hindus and Muslims from much before, and even the brick wall that separates Juhapura from Vastrapur-Vejalpur existed before 2002. These walls separated the two communities for so long and so strongly that it became easy to demonise the other. They just became higher after the 2002 riots.


In 2002 and later, the "enemy" was so decisively marginalised that the glue that kept the Hindutva brigade together gradually evaporated, exposing the fissure within. The Patels, who had launched a fierce anti-reservation movement in the 1980s, are now fighting for their own benefit instead of welfare of all Hindus. The individual caste identities that had melted away during the Hindutva experiment are now asserting themselves. The castes currently counted as backward have emphatically rejected any move to include Patels in the OBC category, lest the latter should eat into their quota pie. Newer enemies are being created, old ghosts are re-awakening with a new crop of directors at the helm. The past masters will find it tough to manoeuvre in this young chaos.

Neighbour trouble

Pakistan is a past master. It snuffed out its minorities systematically, to its own peril. If Islam and Tawhid could keep people together, there would be no turmoil in the Muslim world. Pakistan keeps its flock together mostly by keeping the India narrative alive. Children learn early in schools about the wily baniya nation out to get them in the name of Akhand Bharat. It is not keen to settle the Kashmir issue because that will make India look less of an enemy, unlike the giant oppressor of Muslims it is made out to be. The state is deeply involved in perpetuating the lie.


Because if India isn’t then the Shia is, and since the Ahmedis are so crushed, they hardly qualify. Barelvis have Deobandis, and vice versa. In India, there are forward castes versus backward castes. Yadavs versus Dalits and various combinations of castes versus various other combinations of castes. Within castes, there are gotras; and within gotras, khandans. It ultimately boils down to the ultimate minority: you, the individual. That’s how the enemy game plays out as we run out of enemies.

Not that we lack common enemies. Corruption, poverty, backwardness et al are the biggest common enemies we face. But, we have cohabited with them for so long that they don’t look like one. The state has a vested interest in not participating in the enemification of these real enemies, because this ultimately undermines the state. The Opposition does so.

Mutually-beneficial enmity

Arvind Kejriwal successfully exaggerated a real enemy, corruption, and united disparate forces. He unsuccessfully contested against Narendra Modi, the much larger leader, to show that he can fight the big enemy. He lost that battle and won his war. Now, in power, he has to assert that corruption is no longer an issue because it has been eliminated. He cannot say that the enemy exists because that will show him as weak. Modi himself created demons he slew, and now finds himself in an unenviable position of not having any. Hence, the eagerness to snub Pakistan.

His opponents have made him the ultimate demon. Sonia Gandhi called him "Maut Ka Saudagar" not for nothing. Nitish and Lalu are united today and it all seems normal, thanks to Modi. Asaduddin Owaisi owes his recent rise in politics to the enemy he has created: Modi and Modi’s Hindus. It’s working quite well for him.

Worst of both worlds

Learning from Modi’s macho image-making and Kejriwal’s calculated carelessness, a 22-year-old graduate has successfully projected the BJP government as an unjust ruler in the eyes of the Patels, uniting them, and divided the society at large. The Patels have a new enemy today. Hindutva needs a fresh enemy to stay united in Gujarat. Everybody needs an enemy, and you have the right to remain silent when the enemy isn’t you. After they are done with that enemy, they will come for you. Your enemy’s enemy is not your friend.

Last updated: August 28, 2015 | 17:04
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