With Yogi Adityanath as UP CM, Modi-Shah have struck at the idea of India

PM has only openly declared his commitment for the Hindu nation’s domination in a 'two-nation' country.

 |  6-minute read |   22-03-2017
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India recently witnessed a mini-general elections. Voters in five states elected their representatives for the legislative assemblies.

Out of the five states, three states were outside the Hindu heartland, where the Congress performed seemingly well (a landslide victory in Punjab and single-largest party in Goa and Manipur, which threw up hung Assembly). In the remaining two states, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where majority Hindus dominated the electoral landscape, the BJP swept into power.

The saffron party eventually sneaked into power in Goa and Manipur (despite getting less seats than the Congress) by breaking all the rules in the book. But political commentators and the national media projected it as a virtue.

The "liberal" media, which is fast becoming an endangered species in India, rather found fault in the Congress strategy and blamed Rahul Gandhi’s lack of "killer instinct".

yogi-body_032217050045.jpg Adityanath is not an ordinary BJP politician. He is what a politician in any civilised country should not be.

The massive electoral victory in the Hindu heartland and total capitulation of media have encouraged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Man Friday, Amit Shah, to not only install an RSS pracharak as the chief minister of Uttarakhand, but also to appoint a bigot with impressive criminal record, Yogi Adityanath, as the CM Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath is not only a minority-hating Mahant, but also a proud male chauvinist.

Uttar Pradesh is not an ordinary state. With its population of more than 200 million, if it becomes an independent country, it will be fifth most populous country in the world. As much as 20 per cent of its population are Muslims — around 40 million. The state is economically underdeveloped with terrible human development record. But with its 80 parliamentary seats, Uttar Pradesh is politically the most powerful state in India. Moreover, it is also the site of secular India’s most sensitive spot, Ayodhya.

Likewise, Adityanath is not an ordinary BJP politician. He is what a politician in any civilised country should not be. His hate speeches can put any far-right leader of the world to shame. He heads a vigilante group, has openly advocated raping and killing of Muslims as revenge-justice, ridicules Mother Teresa, lacks any administrative experience and shows no inclination to work for development.

In the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh elections, Modi cleverly sugar-coated his polarisation poison with development bait. However, by appointing Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister, he has left no one in doubt that his development plank was nothing but a hoax.

For Modi, his development slogan has outlived its utility. In 2014, there was a Gujarat model. For 2019, Modi is in search for an UP model. This UP model, in all likelihood, will follow the same Gujarat model (via "Godhra"), only the journey this time will start from Ayodhya.

There are still two more years to go for the next General Elections and only time will tell if Modi will be successful in selling his UP model to India or not.

But India should brace itself for some turbulent months ahead. The election of Narendra Modi as the prime minister of the country and his subsequent choice of Amit Shah to head the BJP have already pushed India’s 180 million Muslims to the edge.

Now, with Yogi Adityanath taking over as the chief minister of a highly sensitive state like Uttar Pradesh, India is facing a serious threat to its "one nation, one country" concept.

Hindu fundamentalism is not a new phenomenon in India. But with Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath troika at the helm, it has got a new meaning in itself. After Modi came to power in 2014 with absolute majority, there have been doubts over his regime’s respect for the idea of India — an India, as visualised by Gandhi and Nehru, which is tolerant, secular and inclusive in character.

Despite all the signals pointing to another direction, a majority of Muslim community still had hope that good sense will prevail and Modi will not lead India into a path of self-destruction. Despite having plenty of choices, his decision to appoint a rabble-rouser like Adityanath as the CM of Uttar Pradesh forces Indian Muslims to see no light at the end of the tunnel.

On May 17, 1996, when AB Vajpayee-led BJP came to power for the first time, in an Op-Ed, legendary editor of The New York Times AM Rosenthal had predicted: “The enemies of Indian freedom from the right call themselves nationalists. But what they preach would destroy the kind of nation that achieved democratic independence. These people are Hindu-first and Hindu-only — which would wipe out the concept of unity between the Hindu majority of 700 million and the Muslim minority of 120 million, and Christians and Sikhs.”

Not Vajpayee, but Modi seems to be determined to make Rosenthal’s dire prediction come true.

Free elections are part of the democratic process and in some cases these elections can also elect the enemies of the freedom. Spectacular electoral victories of the BJP in the 2014 General Elections and in 2017 Assembly elections have made Modi the prime minister of the country and Adityanath the chief minister of UP. But the overt pursuit of Modi in converting India to a Hindu nation has raised serious doubts among minorities, Muslims in particular, about their basic rights and freedom in a Hindu-India, and has revived the pre-independence notion of existence of two nations in one country.

A few years before India’s independence, some Muslim leaders were led to see themselves as a separate "people" threatened by the Hindu majority, and felt the need for a nation of their own for their survival. It was not Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who first coined the two-nation theory when he adopted it as a declaration in All-India Muslim League’s 1940 Lahore Session. The credit for that goes to VD Savarkar, the father of Hindutva movement and Modi’s idol. While addressing the 19th Session of Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, Savarkar had declared his two-nation theory: “There are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India." 

Savarkar’s idea of two "antagonistic" nations living in one country still seems to resonate in Modi’s thought processes and his notion of subjugating the "others" is going to push them to see themselves as a separate nation — the way it did before Independence. Let's not forget that at the time of Partition, out of 100 million Muslims, 30 million had decided to stay in Gandhi-Nehru’s India, and became part of that one nation one, country idea.

India is not any more Gandhi-Nehru’s India. Modi led Sangh Parivar is turning it into Savarkar’s India. Muslims in India had resisted the concept of Hindu-first in the two-nation theory framework in 1940s and India had to undergo a very painful Partition. Instead of learning from the recent history, Modi is pushing the 180 million-strong Muslim population in India to accept their "nation’s subjugation from a Hindu nation".

Ever since coming to power, Modi has not left any opportunity to strike at the idea of India, the idea of it being tolerant, secular and inclusive. But by appointing Yogi Adityanath as UP CM,  he has only openly declared his commitment for the Hindu nation’s domination in a "two-nation" country. And that raises serious threat not only to the idea of India, but to India itself.

Also read: Adityanath as UP CM: Some people can't digest Hindutva won, secularism lost


Ashok Swain Ashok Swain @ashoswai

The writer is professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden.

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