BJP-RSS provoking a Muslim backlash but Muslims refusing to fall in the trap

The Muslims have till now refused to fall in the trap despite grave provocations like the call for genocide of Muslims and auctioning of Muslim women online

The so-called 'Dharma Sansad' held in Haridwar last month
The so-called 'Dharma Sansad' held in Haridwar last month

Zafar Agha

It began with Friday namaz ban in Gurugram. Soon, we had a Dharma Sansad giving a call for genocide of Muslims. Then you had Muslim women being auctioned through websites. What is going on? Have we gone completely mad? Or has India lost its reason and soul?! It is shameful, disgusting and distressing. But why this sudden spate of provocative moves targeting Muslims? And why now?

It cannot be dismissed lightly as a prank. Nor is it without a purpose. There is, indeed, a method in this madness. It is essentially politics and has nothing to do with dharma. The politics obviously has to do with Uttar Pradesh elections and the purpose is to provoke Muslims to take to the streets and indulge in anti-Hindu rhetoric.

The reason is that notwithstanding its resources, money power and supposedly ‘exemplary work’ in the state, BJP seems nervous in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is desperately hawking both the Muslim and 'development' cards in UP. Standing like an emperor himself and reminding people of Aurangzeb from the 'Kashi corridor' and inaugurating expressways and sundry projects are a part of the old Modi method of combining playing on insecurities, communal polarisation and dreams of development, which the the country has been witnessing since 2014. It is all getting a bit tiring now.

Uttar Pradesh seems to be looking for options this time round. Massive crowds in attendance at Priyanka Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav’s rallies are a pointer. The ‘qabristan-shamshanghat’ binary of 2017 does not seem to be as effective in 2022. Too many unkept promises seem to have dented Modi’s credibility and old tricks have lost their sting.

Another serious problem in UP is chief minister Yogi Adityanath. He has accumulated a lot of baggage in the last five years that is now proving to be a burden for the BJP ahead of the election. Yogi’s intolerance of criticism has also turned civil society against the BJP. From ordinary journalists to activists who faced the wrath of the ruthless UP administration, everyone is keen to call his bluff.

Memories of thousands dying without medical care during the second wave of the pandemic last year in UP is still fresh in the peoples’ mind. Dead bodies floating in the Ganga in the not-too-distant a past continue to haunt public memory.

Yogi’s blatant Thakurwad during the last five years is also generating a new social mobilisation. Dalits and several backward castes are drifting away from the BJP. Even a section of Brahmins is not too happy with the BJP in UP. There are also reports of Muslims going for strategic voting with even Asaduddin Owasi’s rhetoric apparently failing to sway them.

UP seems to be drifting away from Kamandal and moving again towards Mandal in this round of elections.

It must be alarming news for the BJP. Old timers in the state have for long believed that if Lucknow slips out of a political party’s grip, Delhi too becomes difficult to retain. With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections not too far now, signs of an insecure Lucknow must be causing serious concern to BJP bosses in Delhi. So, there is a desperate attempt to secure power somehow in Lucknow.

Unfortunately for the BJP, it has had to fall back upon religion and hate to win elections, although temple politics seems to have considerably lost its appeal. The call for temples in Ayodhya-Kashi-Mathura, as anticipated, has been given but it is just not selling like the Ram temple did in the 1990s.

The problem with the BJP in UP now is that there is no visible Muslim 'enemy' like Babri Masjid Action Committee to provoke and incite a Hindu backlash now. There is no Muslim resistance to Kashi or Mathura temples like there was to the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

So, how to build up hate for Muslims and paint them as the enemy in Hindu minds? Bring Muslims somehow to the streets, let fanatic Muslims retaliate in kind and hold out threats so that a Hindu backlash builds up.

The opposition in Gurugram to the devout offering Friday namaz in designated public places, after mosques were shut down and permission for adding floors to existing mosques was withheld, the call for genocide and the auction of Muslim women online are all designed to provoke a Muslim backlash. Once a fanatic Muslim leadership emerges as the community spokesperson, it would be easier to conjure and sell an Aurangzeb versus Shivaji binary to the Hindus.

But unfortunately for the BJP, Muslims have not walked into the trap yet. Past blunders seem to have made Muslims wiser. There are two lessons that Indian Muslims have learnt from past mistakes. First, emotional street politics couched with religious rhetoric like cries of Allah ho Akbar is counterproductive. Allah-ho-Akbar leads to Jai Sri Ram response and Muslims ultimately suffer. This is the lesson of dozens of anti-Muslim communal riots.

Secondly, Muslim Personal Law Board’s adamant stand on triple talaaq issue for decades substantially discredited the clergy-led conservative Muslim leadership that has been ruling the roost from the days Babri mosque gates were unlocked in 1986.

Finally, the Sangh's tactics of terrorising Muslims with lynching shocked the community into a shell.

Now, Muslims are refusing to react to provocations. Their strategy is to lie low and let the storm pass. This is also the wisest course available for the community. It is good both for the community as well as the country to cool down the communal temperature.

The call for genocide of Muslims and auctioning Muslim women have evoked revulsion and reaction worldwide and also among liberal Hindus. Even Pakistan is rebuilding temples demolished in the past and inviting Hindus to worship and pray in the rebuilt temples. It is entirely possible that the dirty tricks like the auction and call for a crusade will generate a change of heart among Indian Hindus who have fallen prey to Hindutva hate politics!

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    Published: 04 Jan 2022, 7:32 PM