Modi needs to be cautious about Yogi’s agenda!

BJP’s sweeping victory in UP assembly elections followed by the selection of Hindutva mascot, Yogi Adityanath, as the chief minister is a hard reality which is not being welcomed by most secular Indians and Muslims at large. They are naturally concerned that extremist, communal elements associated with Sangh Parivar are likely to become more aggressive in targeting minorities, particularly Muslims, and those espousing secularism. Violence displayed recently by ABVP in Delhi University is viewed by them as just a minor sign of their intentions. Emboldened by victory in UP such elements may display their communal behaviour more outrageously than ever before. At present, these speculations are being entertained backed by communal actions, targeting Muslims, displayed by groups associated with Sangh Parivar. Does this imply that crisis may surface in UP due to communal action deliberately initiated targeting Muslims over “cow” meat or some other reason?

If this does happen, claims made by Yogi about his target being development of UP may begun being viewed as hollow before the next parliamentary elections. And this is least likely to be welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders. Modi has probably not yet forgotten that Gujarat 2002 carnage proved politically too expensive for the BJP. The party failed to return to power in subsequent parliamentary polls. Had Modi not donned a secular mask during his campaign for 2014 parliamentary polls, victory may have eluded BJP. This also suggests that if BJP is keen to return to power, Yogi is expected to at least try presenting a non-communal image before the public, rest of India and world. It may be recalled that demolition of Babri Masjid was telecast in United States. Headlines in American media presented the news as the action of Hindu terrorists.

In other words, if Sangh Parivar, banking on its UP-victory, plans to push forward its Hindutva-agenda as it did around two and a half decades ago, it is likely to spoil not just Yogi’s image across the world but more strongly that of Modi. The BJP may be able to use various means to silence and/or prevent spread of negative news about its communal activities in UP and India. But prospects of it succeeding to do so in the rest of world, on Internet, are extremely limited. Besides, it cannot be ignored that negative news does not take too long to spread across the world. Modi is least likely to be pleased by his own image being tarnished abroad by such negative news.

Let us not forget that BJP has won elections democratically in keeping with the terms of Indian Constitution. At present, the party is politically and legally bound to rule UP as per the dictates of the Indian Constitution and not what the Hindutva-agenda states. Certainly, the Indian Constitution gives importance to the country’s democratic and secular values. In addition, there is the Right to Religion. However, Indian secularism and the Right to Religion do not permit misuse of one’s religious values to target religious practises of others. This point is specifically being made in keeping apprehensions voiced about the possible actions that Yogi government may take to trouble Muslims. These include closure of slaughter-houses, banning of azaan (call for prayers) from mosques and so forth.

If communal crisis does start surfacing in UP because of Yogi government encouraging the same or choosing not to take substantial action in checking the same, the state is likely to witness frequent riots and curfews. Normal life of ordinary life will be disturbed with communal action causing damage to life and property. At present, Yogi is talking about UP’s development in almost the same tone as Modi. The prime minister is keen to make India a major economic power. In this direction, he is also open to investments from other countries. But if disturbances rock major states, like UP, most countries are likely to reconsider the option of furthering economies with India. Would Modi welcome this? Probably not.

Besides, if crises — economic and social — engulf UP, the situation is not likely to be welcomed by the population as a whole. It must be accepted that each and every Hindu in UP is not communal and/or extremist. If he were, the BJP would have received 80 percent votes in assembly elections. This only implies that secularism is still alive in India. Also, BJP must accept the hard reality that its victory in UP has been strongly decided by major mistakes committed by its rival parties. These include alignment of Samajwadi Party (SP) with Congress, internal conflict within SP and so forth. In a number of seats, the votes won by BSP and SP exceed those won by BJP by more than 20,000.  Perhaps, it would be wise of BJP to keep in mind that each communal incident is likely to give its rival parties an issue to make noise about and also gain media coverage. Modi needs to be extremely cautious about the damages that can be caused to his political future by Yogi.   

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