As the multi-phased UP assymbly elections progress, PM Modi as the only mascot of BJP’s campaign is becoming more belligerent in his communal polarizing rhetoric. Speaking in an election rally on (February 20, 2017) at Fatehpur, PM while raising the issue of appeasement of Muslim minority in the State by the current Samajwadi Party government he went to the extent of declaring that “Ramzan me bijli athi hai tho Diwali me bhi ani chahiye; Bhedbhav nhi hona chahiye (If there is electricity during Ramadan then it must be available during Diwali too; there shouldn’t be any discrimination)…Gaon me kabristan banta hai to shamshaan bhi banna chahiye (If there is a ‘kabaristaan’ (graveyard), there should be a ‘shamshaan’ (cremation ground) too”.[i]
PM Modi was clearly targeting Akhilesh government for favouring Muslims over Hindus of UP. Though he did not share any data to prove this serious allegation, PM wanted to convey to his Hindu audience that Samajwadi Party did not care for Hindu votes and was in power due to Muslim votes, so naturally cared for the latter only.
This brash allegation needs serious investigation. Modi has been addressing election meetings in UP for almost last 3 weeks but never raised this issue. The Fatehpur address showed that he wastrying to heighten the pitch for polarization between Hindus and Muslim electorate. It also meant that UP electorate, overwhelmingly consisting of Hindus, had not come out in support of the BJP. So, the bogey of Muslim appeasement and ‘enemy’ Muslim were being raised. Responding to this development a leading English daily of the country editorially wrote that halfway into the UP campaign, “both the PM’s choice of examples, and his message, are unfortunate…It neither behoves the PM nor his office”.[ii]
Before delving into the ideological background of PM’s Muslim bashing, let us judge this spate of allegations from a commonsensical point of view. Modi’s argument is that Akhilesh government was elected by Muslim voters so it naturally worked for the interest of its ‘Muslim vote-bank’ overlooking the demands of Hindus. While making any final opinion on this issue we have to take into account following figures. Muslims constitute 19.3% of the UP population whereas Hindus are 79.73% in the State.Out of 404 total UP assembly seats Muslims have a share of more than 30% votes in 73 constituencies and 20-30% votes in 70 constituencies. In the last 2012 assembly elections,Samajwadi Party secured 224 seats.
If Modi’s argument is tested in the light of the above facts and figures, it would be suicidal for any political party in UP to win on the strength of Muslim votes only and serve the interests of Muslims in the State. This would be sheer illiteracy to claim that 19.3% Muslim voters would elect a government which should win minimum 203 seats to rule. BJP’s own list of candidates for 2017 assembly elections shows that it does not find Muslims as a significant or deciding factor in the current assembly elections. It has not nominated a single Muslim candidate for these elections. The myth of ‘Muslim vote-bank’ is in fact an insult to Hindu electorates of UP which have often elected non-BJP governments.
The Hindutva bogey of Muslim appeasement has no factual basis, totally disregards common sense but continues to be touted in RSS shakhas and ‘boudhik bethaks’. Whatever PM Modi says about Muslim appeasement is the outcome of his being a ‘Hindu nationalist’ and groomed as a political leader by Guru Golwalkar, the second supremo of the RSS, who is also referred to as ‘Guru of Hate’.
Golwalkar as early as 1939 declared that Muslims and Christians of India belonged to foreign races and in order to stay in ‘Hindusthan’ they “must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation: let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races who have chosen to live in our country”.[iii]
The RSS, outrightlyrejected the idea that Indian Muslims too were part of Indian nation. The English organ of the RSS, Organiser, on the very eve of Independence (August 14, 1947) editorially chalked out its concept of nation in the following words:“Let us no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by false notions of nationhood. Much of the mental confusion and the present and future troubles can be removed by the ready recognition of the simple fact that in Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation…The nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations.”
Even after Independence the hatred for minorities specially Muslims continued unabated, in fact, got more focussed. The ‘Holy’ book for the RSS cadres Bunch of Thoughts, which is collection of writings and speeches of Golwalkar (first published by RSS in 1966) has a long chapter titled as ‘Internal Threats’ in which Muslims and Christians are described as threat number one and two respectively. He goes on to spit venom against common Muslims in the following words: “Within the country there are so many Muslim pockets, i.e., so many‘miniature Pakistans’…The conclusion is that, in practically everyplace, there are Muslims who are in constant touch with Pakistanover the transmitter…”[iv]
While addressing the leading RSS cadres of South India in Bangalore on November 30, 1960, he made the following sensational statement: “Right from Delhi to Rampur, Muslims are busy hatching a dangerous plot, piling up arms and mobilizing their men, and probably biding their time to strike from within.”[v]Shockingly, there was no substantiation or proofs offered for such a serious allegation against the whole Muslim community residing in the western Uttar Pradesh (UP). More shocking was that the police of Karnataka or UP did not prosecute Golwalkar for rumour mongering.
Golwalkar’s hatred for Muslims was endless. He continued to preach that Muslims, “are born in this land, no doubt. But are they true to their salt? Are they grateful to this land which has brought them up? Do they feel that they are the children of this land and its tradition, and that to serve it is their great good fortune? Do they feel it a duty to serve her? No! Together with the change in their faith, gone is the spirit of love and devotion for the nation. Nor does it end there. They have also developed a feeling of identification with the enemies of this land”.[vi]
PM Modi’s bashing of Muslims in UP elections should not surprise anybody. He may be a PM of a democratic-secular country but has been groomed by RSS and Golwalkar into a political leader and proudly identifies himself as a ‘Hindu nationalist’.[vii]He is out to implement RSS agenda of demonizing minorities specially Muslims, the largest minority of the country, in order to prepare ground for the consolidation of Hindus.He represents the greatest challenge to our democratic-secular polity from within. It is unfortunate that Modi’s long stint with our democratic-secular constitutional set-up has not brought even an iota of change (or secularization) in the Hindutva perception of PM Modi. Election results of UP elections in the first half of March 2017are going to settle the future of Indian polity. Will Indian democracy survive the attempts to undo it from within, is a billion-dollar worth question?
Shamsul Islam is a retired professor of Delhi university
For some of S. Islam’s writings in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Punjabi, Urdu & Gujarati see the following link:
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[iii]MS Golwalkar, We Or Our Nationhood Defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, 1939, pp. 47-48.
[iv]MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu, Bangalore, 1996, p. 185.
[v]MS Golwalkar, ‘From Delhi to Rampur Muslims are conspiring’, Organizer, December 12, 1960.
[vi]MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu, Bangalore, 1996, p. 125.