Year 1 of Modi 2.0: The value of removal of Article 370 for India's security
The Ram Mandir verdict was another historic event that people should appreciate as a great achievement of Modi 2.0.
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The fear of Covid-19 has taken a big casualty. BJP, RSS, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah supporters did not get to celebrate the completion of the year in power for Modi 2.0 — a momentous year. The year Jammu and Kashmir was untangled from Article 370 and the Ram Janmabhoomi from a legal tangle.
The first punched a hole in the Islamist ideology that, through a calculated strategy using every means, from political parties to the secular provisions of the constitution, dodged the polity since Independence. Few of us believed Article 370 could be knocked off in our lifetimes. That was the greatest achievement of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Together with the vexing Ram Mandir tussle, the exclusionist provisions of Article 370 fuelled an Islamist undercurrent in Indian politics, and Wahhabism ran rampant with its pan-Islamism. Its sinister designs can only be understood by a speech of a Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) leader, SQR Iliyas, now known as the father of JNU student leader Umar Khalid. Iliyas, a former president of the now-banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and also a member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board for years, gave this speech on January 1, 2006, at Ahmedabad's Mehdi Nawaz Jung hall to a gathering of JEI.
A momentous year of Modi 2.0. (Photo: Reuters)
I was present on the occasion when Iliyas openly lamented how Muslims had failed to convert entire India into Islam despite being in India for 800 years, and called upon them to create a situation wherein no party can form a government at the Centre or states without the support of Muslims. Iliyas openly called for Islamising the nation in that speech. I had started tracking Iliyas in 2003 after I read an interview of his, in which he said that nationalism was a fascist idea as it divides humanity, and that there was nothing wrong about a SIMI poster saying 'Destroy Nationalism and Establish Khilafat' (Khilafat means an Islamic kingdom based on Sharia laws).
SIMI was banned but its ideology has not only survived, but flourished, and one could see them getting articulated in various speeches at the Shaheen Bagh protests.
Coming back to the BJP's singular most important achievement in Modi 2.0: Removal of Article 370.
The irony is that the BJP lost the Jharkhand and Delhi state elections despite the momentous step. Even more shocking was that the Shiv Sena left the BJP alliance and formed a government with the Congress in Maharashtra in the very year in which the Modi-government had removed Article 370. Some part of the blame for the losses goes to the BJP also, as it admitted turncoats in large numbers at the expense of party loyalists, and tried to win the Delhi election by giving it a communal tinge, when it could have fought the polls on Prime Minister's pet slogan of good governance. The BJP's pitch united both the hardline Wahhabi Muslims and the Barelvis, who abandoned the Congress and voted en masse for AAP seeing it as the winning party. Had the BJP fought the polls on the good governance slogan, Muslims would have also voted for the Congress, making the Delhi polls a three-cornered contest.
This would have brought BJP more seats, or the party could have even come close to victory. In the process, the BJP also failed to enlist the support of non-Islamist Muslims who have been alienated along with those who traditionally oppose the party.
The Ram Mandir verdict in which the Modi government played the role of a facilitator was also a historic event that a large mass of people should have appreciated as a great achievement of Modi 2.0's one year in office. The discovery of broken idols from the excavation work at the site in the first few months of the verdict shows how the legitimate rights of the majority community were being held to ransom all these years at the altar of pseudo-secular politics, and that too in a country which had let go of its land now called Pakistan, to satisfy the religious aspirations of the Muslims of undivided India. But a typical lack of sense of history has marked India's growth right from the time of the Independence movement when Congress's appeasement became the fodder of Muslim League, resulting, finally, in Partition and the birth of Pakistan.
However, there is one silver lining that after the advent of ultra-Wahhabis like ISIS and the al-Qaeda, there is a significant section of Wahhabis in India and the world that rejects ultra-Wahhabism/terrorism through remaining wedded to Pan-Islamism. The way members of the Indian Wahhabi families cooperated with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for getting their ultra-sons back after they joined the ISIS is proof of this fact.
The losses in Delhi and Jharkhand shouldn't, however, deter the BJP from pursuing its nationalist goals impacting national security, but with a rider — that while fighting pan-Islamist elements in India's biggest minority community, it shouldn't end up targeting a large number of moderates in the community. The party seems to be on the right path at the moment in the way the Union Home Ministry under Amit Shah is tracking and zeroing in on the instigators of the post-Shaheen Bagh communal violence in Delhi. Any trace of separatism will have to be stamped out for a secure India in future, even while identifying the non-separatist sections in the minority — which are quite significant — and taking them along.