As the third year of Modi government ends, the communal Hindutva campaign of RSS-BJP has reached top gear. Yogi Adityanath, the unashamedly divisive face of the Saffron Brigade, being put at the helm of the biggest state of the country is the most blatant expression of this. The selection of Aditynath for the top post after Modi-led victory in UP, though not totally unexpected and actually in continuity with the election campaign, was still a deliberate choice made by Modi. This continuity can be best understood by the 'Kabristan' versus 'Shamshan' debate raked up by none other than PM Modi himself. Of course, this was only the icing on top of communal cake made by Shah and company. One ingredient was the so called 'Hindu migration' from Muslim dominated areas of western UP. On this issue Adityanath was made to campaign most vociferously, claiming that he himself liberated Poorvanchal (eastern part of the state), through his Hindu Yuva Vahini, from this menace by showing Muslims their place in the streets. Other important ingredients were not putting up any Muslim candidates, promise of closing down all the 'mechanical slaughter houses', fighting 'love jihad', 'triple talaq' etc. and last but not the least, 'constructing Ram Mandir at Ayodhya'. This cooked up complaint of 'Muslim appeasement' was very craftily combined by the RSS-BJP with a similar complaint against dominant Dalit and OBC communities, the Jatavs and Yadavs, to achieve a winning electoral combination. In this, the theme of 'Muslim appeasement' worked both as a component and as a wider ideological cement to hold this unnatural combination together. In this context Adityanath's elevation to the CM's post was hardly a surprise. Still it was a conscious choice that indicated readiness of Modi led BJP and RSS to put reveal one of its most divisive faces as it's real face in the most populous state of the country and that too after heat and dust of elections had settled down. This was the second Modi moment for Hindutva forces. Masks are off at the end of the third year.
Adityanath has not disappointed the Hindutva brigade. One of his first acts after taking over as CM was a full scale attack against slaughter houses and meat trade in general which is very visibly dominated by Muslim community. In the name of acting against illegal slaughter houses, entire chain of export and distribution of meat was disrupted, including production of leather. More than a direct attack on the livelihoods of over 25 lakh people and basic food sustaining crores more, it was also meant to be seen as indicator of the Hindutvavadi intent of the new government.
This has naturally encouraged the Saffron Brigade to adopt a more aggressive posture and running amok, leading to break down in law and order in large parts of this vast state. In a significant new move, police forces violently attacked protestors in many places when they tried to restrain the Saffron Brigade. Even more significantly, after such prominent incidents in Agra and Saharanpur, senior police officials who had earned the wrath of leaders of BJP and other RSS affiliated organizations, were summarily transferred by Adityanath. This has send the clearest possible signal to the state police that Saffron Brigade is the new ruler and has to be treated as such.
Not surprisingly Hindu Yuva Vahini, run under direct patronage of Adityanath himself is exhibiting a phenomenal swelling of its ranks. So much so that now it has to put some restrictions on new recruitment, especially in giving organizational posts to newcomers. This Aditya Vahini has very quickly expanded out of Gorakhpur division and has made its presence felt in almost all the communal incidents in western UP. In one incident in Bulandsahar, motor cycle riding Vahini sainiks killed a Muslim old man just because one Muslim man in a neighboring village had eloped with a Hindu women. In another case of similar nature in Amroha, all Muslims of an entire village had to run away from their homes to save themselves from wrath of Hindutva brigade. And in Saharanpur, that has remained continuously in the news for last one month, Hindutva forces led by local BJP MP and other leaders first tried to use a so called celebration of Ambedkar's birth day to mobilize Dalits against Muslims and then, those Dalits who did not oblige were attacked ferociously in the name of celebrating Rajput hero Maharana Pratap's birth day. Receiving the necessary message from summary transfer of SSP earlier, local police is now trying of keep Hindutva forces in good humour by selectively acting against Dalits only. In such a situation, it's not surprising that Adityanath as CM has formally denied permission for prosecution of Adityanath, the then MP, in a 2007 case of communal rioting and provocation. It's worth noting that Adityanath and his close lieutenants have many such cases pending against them.
But Adityanath at the helm in UP, with all its ramifications, is not the only Hindutvavadi achievement of the third year of Modi government. Everything else inaugurated in first two years of Modi government has continued in significantly intensified form in the third year. Three examples should suffice. In spite of PM Modi himself calling 90% of them fake, the so called "Gau-rakshaks" have only increased their area of operations and frequency and ferocity of attacks. In one of most recent such attacks, Muslim Meo dairy farmer from Mewat area in Haryana, Pehlu Khan was brutally killed by cow vigilantes at Behrod, in Alwar district of Rajasthan. He had bought a cow from Jaipur Municipal Corporation's cattle market, complete with receipt, etc. While transporting the cattle their group was attacked by cow vigilantes on the busy National Highway. As has become the norm in BJP ruled states, the first action of Rajasthan police was to book the victims under various sections related to cow smuggling, while the real culprits roamed around freely. In spite of the countrywide outcry especially since Pehlu Khan's succumbed to his injuries, the BJP state government has refused to drop charges of cow smuggling against other victims of Hindutva vigilantes. BJP governments of both Rajasthan and Haryana have not cared to give any relief or compensation to the victims. Actually, subsequent to the killing of Pehlu Khan, BJP led state governments in Haryana, Jharkhand and few other states, reflecting overall view of Sangh Parivar in government, have only further tightened their steps for 'cow protection'. No surprise that besides Muslims, Dalits and other Hindus are also increasingly becoming victims of these cow vigilantes.
Whatever is happening in Kashmir is another major Hindutvavadi achievement. The situation in Kashmir has not only gone from bad to worse in the third year of this government, it has practically reached a stage of mass revolt in the Valley. Only 7% voting in Srinagar parliamentary bye-election, followed by only 3% voting in re-poll in dozens of booths shows the depth of alienation of Kashmiris. But the Modi government is not really concerned. Not only that, it has totally tied the hands of PDP-BJP alliance government of Mehbooba Mufti. She has repeatedly asked the Centre to start a political dialogue with all stake holders, but the Modi government clearly does not want any dialogue. This is in spite of the government’s promise of starting a dialogue and confidence building measures given after the J&K visit of all-Party Parliamentary delegation led by the Home Minister himself. 'Tough' is the key word in Modi government's Kashmir policy. This government is hell bent upon forcing a security solution to an essentially political problem, which is bound to fail. But even this failure is a success for Hindutva forces, as they cynically seek to use the disturbed situation in Kashmir for their strident efforts to sharpen communal polarization elsewhere in the country, especially in Jammu. Pakistan is the external and Kashmir internal 'other' for this communal polarization.
All out offensive against secular research in general, and JNU and other prestigious universities in particular, is yet another important achievement of Hindutva forces. If second year of Modi government saw a direct offensive against left student activists, activities and student's union, the third year is seeing a serious offensive against research level entry in to these institutions. Current offensive that looks more successful than the last one, is naturally accompanied by steps for gradual destruction of democratic academic atmosphere in these institutions, with help of RSS filtered appointees everywhere. The latest controversy in once-prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communications is an apt example. This institute is hosting a seminar on 'nationalistic' journalism, which is to be addressed by controversial ex-top cop of Chattisgarh, Kallori and is to be preceded by two hour long "yagna"! All this is part of RSS dictated education policy, formally still in process of formulation, but actually already in different stages of implementation. This policy is exclusively dictated by RSS and its affiliates. Fate of cultural organizations is no different. Only in addition to communalizing, they have also to commercialize. This is naturally weakening and even destroying the reputation of these institutions. BJP state governments’ promotion of RSS supported "garbh sanskar" is not only promoting of mumbo jumbo as science and bringing Indian science to ridicule, it is also strengthening of racial prejudices through such 'best progeny' programme, inspired by the hated eugenics project of Hitler's Germany.
Further encouraged by latest electoral victories, specially in UP, BJP-RSS have intensified their campaign against left in general and CPI(M) in particular. Left is specially targeted as they consider it their main ideological adversary and biggest challenge to their project of converting India in to a "Hindu Rashtra." Second RSS chief Golwalkar, considered as main theoretician of Sangh, has identified communists, as one of three main enemies of their fundamental project, others being Muslims and Christians. Naturally left's main bastions are specially targeted. Since formation of LDF government is Kerala, RSS has intensified its violent attacks against CPI(M) cadre. At the same time, playing victim, they have also launched a massive disinformation campaign using all the clout of their central government. Meanwhile, RSS-BJP combine is working overtime to build an anti-communist alliance of all the communal and casteist forces. Similarly in Tripura where Left Front government is going to complete its seventh term early next year and Assembly elections are to take place, RSS-BJP combine is trying to build anti-communist unity around itself. They have practically swallowed TMC in state and almost replaced Congress as centre of opposition. They are trying to cobble up alliance with tribal separatist organizations to complete their anti-left alliance, though this can disturb tribal-non tribal unity built by the left that is mainly responsible for Tripura being a peaceful exception in disturbed North-East. In Bengal, using mainly majority communalism card and taking advantage of ruling TMC using Muslim minority card, BJP is trying to push the left out of space of main opposition force. This campaign can only further intensify in fourth year of Modi government.
Masks are off as Modi government completes its three years. With real economy in bad shape and fast increasing unemployment exposing all its claims of development benefitting people, BJP-RSS is going to more and more openly show their real communal face to polarize the people. Forces of democracy and secularism can only expect more challenging times.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sabrangindia