The ugly riots that hit northeast Delhi last week with the virtual complicity of the ruling elite of Delhi, belonging both to the BJP and Aam Aadmi Party, cannot be without a motive. Yet, the sheer intensity of violence and the heavy loss of life and property inflicted by this are not letting attention to go to this since rioting began on February 23.
Anyway, the main intention behind the riots was evidently to break the protests against the amendment to the citizenship law at Jaffrabad metro station; and not let it become another Shaheen Bagh. But this did not remain confined to just that. Soon the real motive came to the surface. And this was to blur the issues emanating from the amendment to the rules related to citizenship and the widespread ennui that it brought among Muslims mainly and other poorer and marginalised sections of the society generally.
So a little over a week after the numerous incidents of gruesome violence, arson, deaths and devastation through large parts of North-East Delhi, the focus has inevitably gone to the kind of divide that these incidents have caused and fears about their being repeated elsewhere in the country. The violence last week was meant to serve a cruel warning against the protestors with the aim to stem out the possibility of citizens taking to similar fights against CAA and rules related to it from spreading further to newer areas.
The fact that the government has for long been faced with protests at Shaheen Bagh in South-East Delhi is significant. The tirade unleashed against these protestors by Union Home Minister and his other Sangh cohorts did not work during the run up to the polls for Delhi Assembly. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP inadvertently became a beneficiary of the Sangh’s population-and-citizens’ engineering of sorts via CAA, NPR and NRC in the sense that AAP’s benevolent schemes for Delhi voters stood out conspicuously and went rather unchallenged by its main opponent.
The BJP has been facing the wrath of the people from Assam to Delhi over CAA which Delhi voters in a way repudiated when Assembly polls results came on February 11.
It was in this backdrop that Kejriwal met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on February 19 in Delhi. By then the latter was all too aware about the reasons behind losing the polls. Shah sought a truce with Delhi Chief Minister after the bitter poll battle. The relations between the Centre and Delhi Government were none too good even prior to the polls. AAP MPs in the Upper House of Parliament had voted against the CAA. So among other things, Shah wanted this to become history. For this both BJP and AAP had to bury their bitter animosity of the past.
Kejriwal gave positive indications about this when he held a press conference on February 20. And when three days after it riots broke out, he shied away from calling in the Army despite demands to do so to quell violence that kept spiraling for the next three days, or until February 26 or so.
It is this newly formed BJP-AAP axis under whose watch vast parts of North-East Delhi went up to flames that some BJP ideologues have been trying to cover up. They blame Congress and Left-liberal civil society for targeting the BJP or AAP for the ghastly riots. BJP Rajya Sabha members Bhupender Yadav and Rakesh Sinha did just this through their articles in The Indian Express that were published toward the end of the last month.
The two Sangh satraps avoided bringing AAP in their discourse about the large-scale violence during the riots. Yet, the question is how did Arvind Kejriwal undergo a sudden change of heart and drew closer to the Sangh and BJP?
The only credible answer to this is the entry of the pollster Prashant Kishor into the AAP’s higher ups team to strategise for the last Delhi Assembly polls. It was Kishor who is thought to be behind Kejriwal’s keeping a distance from Shaheen Bagh and CAA protests. Delhi Chief Minister also visited Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place both before and after the polls to don a rightwing and majority-savvy image amid what is thought to be Kishor’s influence.
This can well be so in view of what Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had revealed about Kishor. At the time the two fell out, Nitish said that Kishor was taken in Bihar politics by him only on the recommendation of Amit Shah.
Thus, no wonder that the vexed politics and its strange manoeuvre have now come to take their toll upon the country’s capital by inflicting one of the worst riots in Delhi’s recent history.