When was the last time that the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections became national news three years before the curtain raiser? The 2017 assembly elections in north India’s largest state and one of the most populous states of India became a bird’s eye in national politics for all major players since 2014 when the BJP swept the general elections of India and won 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The Sangh Parivar led by the RSS started its communal polarisation exercise eyeing the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections long back in 2012 by instigating communal riots throughout Western Uttar Pradesh by using issues like “Love Jehad”, cow slaughter, etc. which targeted the minority Muslim community in the state.
While the BSP lost its prominent space in the state, especially due to the rabid corruption and nepotism that Mayawati resorted to during her last tenure as a Chief Minister from 2007 to 2012. The anti-Muslim stance of Mayawati and her fiddling with the Brahmins also took away her small Muslim vote-bank and a sizeable portion of her Dalit vote-bank in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections held in 2012.
The Congress Party, despite several attempts by Rahul Gandhi to revive its organisational and vote strength in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, failed to become a considerable political player in the state. Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal could never manage to go beyond the traditional Jat-dominated regions of Western Uttar Pradesh, and all other political parties except the BJP were either withering away or losing their space in the state.
In these circumstances the BJP, since the baton of the party passed on to Amit Shah – Narendra Modi clique from the Lal Krishna Advani led faction, started asserting its new model of Hindutva politics in the state to be a key player, a position that it lost during the early 2000s after the Gupta and Singh government failed to retain the state.
Since 2012, Western Uttar Pradesh became the new laboratory of the RSS led saffron bloc and the BJP started sowing the seeds of utmost communal hatred and bigotry by exploiting the low level of political consciousness of the people in this region, by utilising the prevalent antagonism between the Hindus and Muslims in the region, by weaning the dominant feudal powers in its favour, and by appeasing the male-chauvinist, Brahminical supremacist sentiments prevailing among the upper-castes and dominant backward castes in the region.
By 2013, with the onset of the Muzaffarnagar pogrom, in which nearly 100 Muslim people were killed, numerous Muslim women were gang-raped by Sangh supporters, and 40,000 were rendered refugees in the relief camps due to the torching of their houses or due to the extreme threats of violence from the dominant Jat community of the region, the BJP started its march of winning non-traditional community vote-banks through polarisation.
Most surprisingly the BJP and the RSS could incite a large-scale anti-Muslim pogrom using an old Pakistani video clip that showed two men being thrashed by a mob of Islamic fundamentalists – by calling it a clip of Muslim men of Muzaffarnagar killing two brothers who protested against a Muslim man who “attempted to dishonour” their sister.
The extreme hatred that the Sangh started spewing using these type of vicious campaigns won them supporters in large numbers from the lumpen elements and feudal landlords from the Jat community. The BBC reported that there were people who believed the fake video was actually genuine even after such a horrible mayhem!
The Jats, a traditional vote-bank of the RLD led by Ajit Singh, became a strong support base for the Hindutva brigade due to the extreme appeasement of the male-dominant closely knitted community by the RSS and the BJP. The switching of Hukum Singh’s and Sangeet Som’s allegiance to the BJP also happened due to the extreme poaching activities carried out by the saffron wing by placing more lucrative baits than any other political player in the region.
Though the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, a left-wing youth organisation that educates the peasants and workers with the teachings of Bhagat Singh and his comrades, started an extensive campaigning in the Western Uttar Pradesh villages, especially in Muzaffarnagar to build up communal harmony, there was visibly no takers among the poor or the middle classes for their politics due to the complex socio-economic and cultural problems that prevailed in the region, especially the extreme dependence of the poor and landless peasantry upon the feudal landlords or rich farmers, who not only provides them with employment opportunities during cultivating and harvesting seasons, but also provides them easy access to credit as money-lenders during the hours of need.
The feudal landlords and the rich farmers, who generally belongs to either upper-castes or dominant backward castes of the region, exerts not only economic but also political and social dominance over the poor and landless peasantry, who are mostly Dalits, Muslims, and other backward caste people.
The feudal landlords and the rich farmers decide which party their farm labourers or the peasants indebted to them should vote. Their diktat cannot be challenged if the state is Uttar Pradesh and if the region is Western Uttar Pradesh.
In 2013 the Jats received support not only from a large section of upper-caste Hindus of the Muzaffarnagar area to kill-burn-rape the hapless Muslims of the region but also from a section of the Dalits who became pawns in the hands of the Hindutva brigade, who weaned them from the watertight compartment of Mayawati’s vote-bank.
The 2014 general elections in Uttar Pradesh remained an election in which the BJP swept the state in an unprecedented show of strength and most surprisingly the polarisation drive by fuelling communal hatred became so successful that Narendra Modi not only managed to win votes from the traditional upper-caste and backward caste voters of the saffron brigade but also managed to get a sizeable portion of the core Dalit votes from Mayawati’s turf. The BSP was reduced to only one seat in the parliament after the party faced its most humiliating defeat in the state.
Narendra Modi rode to power riding on three chariots of fire; the first being the chariot of anti-Congress anti-incumbency wave that was caused due to the corruption cases that the party was involved in, the second being the chariot of fake promises to bring “better days” that Modi claimed will change the fortune of the countrymen, the third and the most powerful chariot was of Hindutva bigotry, which claimed of saving India from a perceived Muslim aggression by choosing a strong Hindu man of religious values who can bring the golden era of Hindu mythology back.
The RSS and the BJP could never anticipate better how the Hindutva campaign and Brahminical supremacist bigotry filled political marijuana could bring them real good fortune in the whole country before the 2014 elections. Though the BJP managed to get only 16 crore votes out of 88 crore votes cast in the elections, it still managed to fare better than all its competitors in the race to power.
The BJP reinvented the power of Hindutva through its newest version tested in Uttar Pradesh and since the formation of the Modi government in the centre, the party and other affiliates of the Sangh conglomerate started working overtime to vitiate the communal environment of the state and to change it to the worst. Communal propaganda is the only weapon the BJP has got in the battle of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
The success the RSS and the BJP got in non-saffron states like Assam, West Bengal, and Karnataka recently showed how perseverance and communal hatred sowing skills of the saffron bloc, apart from the millions of dollars they receive as funding from the fascists in the US and other Western countries, helped them in reaping rich yields in the EVM machines.
Through a basket full of bigots and zealots like Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Sangeet Som, Kalyan Singh, and others, the BJP and the RSS kept the political environment of the state led by the Samajwadi Party, vitiated since 2012.
The BJP’s traditional vote-bank of Thakurs, Banias, and few backward castes are now also joined by the Nishads (a Dalit community of Eastern Uttar Pradesh), and the Jats. A major chunk of these castes and communities have fallen prey to the toxic communal propaganda of the saffron camp and they have become the largest support base of the BJP during the past four years.
While the ruling Samajwadi Party has always patronised the Sangh Parivar in its own pursuit of consolidating the Muslim votes along with that of the Yadavs and a large section of the backward castes, the BSP realised the importance of winning a Muslim support base and combining it with the Dalits in an electoral battle against the BJP only lately.
By concealing their Brahminical supremacist politics to polarise the Dalit votes under the umbrella of Hindutva the BJP managed to garner a large section of the Dalit votes until 2014. The BJP used the Dalit base it won from Mayawati’s camp to instigate communal violence against Muslims under the garb of protecting the “honour” of Hindu women who, according to the Sangh Parivar, are vulnerable to Muslim men trying to convert them to Islam.
The notorious “Ghar Wapsi” or a religious conversion drive to convert the Muslims and Christians into Hindus started with the covert support of the Samajwadi Party led administration all over the state. Apart from Azam Khan’s venom spewing the entire administration didn’t take any step to contain the Hindutva bullying of Muslims and Christians in the state and it let the RSS go loose like a feral force to threaten and intimidate every community that opposed its heinous plans to vitiate the communal environment of the state years before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
The cycle of utmost hate mongering and vitriol continued for months and with the brutal lynching of Muhammad Akhlaq in Dadri’s Bisada village by a group of RSS supported cow vigilante lumpens highlighted the intolerance sown deep in Uttar Pradesh as well as the whole country by the saffron brigade.
The lynching of Akhlaq became a national news due to the BJP’s constant unapologetic efforts to officially justify the mob lynching under the garb of cow protection and its MLA Sangeet Som’s unconditional support to those who were accused of killing the man.
There were constant threats from the Hindutva lobby to the Muslims of the region and their liasoning with the government even changed the laboratory report on the nature of the meat that was confiscated by the state government, which again gave a moral booster to the thugs who used the occasion to flare up communal passions and intimidate the family of the victim.
The death of an accused in the judicial custody was used by the Sangh Parivar to portray the deceased as a “patriot” who devoted his life to the service of the “nation”, which is always a Hindu nation for the saffron forces. The Dadri issue couldn’t be utilised by the opposition political forces as much as the BJP used it to build up a strong polarisation drive around the holy cow to score better in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections of 2017.
Mayawati, whose party and political status was shrinking fast due to the rapid expansion and proliferation of the Hindutva brigade, couldn’t do much to put up any credible opposition against the Modi-led BJP government at the centre or the Samajwadi Party government of Uttar Pradesh on the issue of rising communal hatred and polarisation. Even when her own vote-bank was poached by the Amit-Narendra led saffron clique, Mayawati lost her strength in the state politics.
Utilising the weak points of the opposition and the flirting of Samajwadi Party with the communal forces, the BJP made inroads into the most backward areas of the state and used the several decades old RSS shakhas and schools to garner a broad support base not only from the upper-caste feudal landlord class, but also from a section of the poor whose only access to education was through the Brahmanical institutions like Saraswati Shishu Mandir set up by the fascist forces.
The organising skills of the RSS helped the BJP since ages to build up a support base among the upper-castes and use their economic influence on the Dalits and backward castes to use the latter as docile tools against the Muslims in the state. Since 2014 the organising got better and the BJP, once again, stopped being shy of wooing people using extreme hate mongering on official platforms.
Firebrand Hindutva leaders found themselves at the topmost echelon of power, mafia lord and Gorakhpur’s head pontiff Yogi Adityanath, who once cried in the parliament urging the speaker to restore his security cover citing Naxal threat to his life, became a natural choice of a Thakur leader who can lead the state as Chief Minister if BJP wins the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections apart from the backward Lodhi caste representative Kalyan Singh and another powerful representative of the Thakurs and feudal landlords, Rajnath Singh.
The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad in January 2016 and the subsequent attacks on the Dalit community throughout the country, including but not limited to the public flogging of Dalits by the Gau Rakshaks (cow vigilante of RSS) in Una of Gujarat irked the most exploited and oppressed community in Uttar Pradesh.
The Dalits are 26 per cent of the state population and that made them equally important for the BJP, not just for the sake of polarising votes for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections, but also to fulfil the larger mission of the Hindutva brigade- of integrating the Dalits into the Hindutva fold and using them as a strong pawn in the saffron brigade’s endeavour to impose a fascistic theocratic rule upon the country by intimidating and torturing the Muslims and Christians.
As the Dalits started reasserting themselves in the wake of the Hindutva brigades unapologetic Brahminical manifestation, the BJP and its parent body plunged into the foray to do a damage control, including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s town hall and public outcry against the cow vigilante forces, whom he distinguished as authentic and sham, clearly indicating his wholehearted support for the first type- the official RSS Gau-Rakshaks.
Though Mayawati experienced a fillip in her low-lying career in the wake of the Hindutva brigade’s attack on the Dalits, however, her attempts to revive her Dalit vote-bank and integrating it with the Muslims before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, a nightmare for the Hindutva brigade, brought her to the firing squad of the Sangh Parivar.
The upper-caste Sangh leaders, especially the former state BJP vice president Daya Shankar Singh, publicly hurled sexist abuses at the former chief minister, exhibiting their growing frustration at the newly developing political equations.
The abusive trolling and salvo firing of the saffron leaders against Mayawati actually punctured the RSS’ attempt to bring the Dalits into its fold. So much terrible was the outrage that a rally called by Amit Shah was cancelled in the state and a Buddhist dhamma rally organised by the Sangh Parivar faced immense opposition from the Dalit community.
While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the RSS tried to invoke communal tensions in Western Uttar Pradesh, especially in Agra, where the former used one of its turncoat Dalit activist leader as a scapegoat by using his suspicious death for their nefarious designs when they found their plan of drawing the Dalits under the Hindutva umbrella was suffering just one year before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
With the Modi government’s demonetisation drive, the polarisation drive of the RSS aimed at Uttar Pradesh assembly elections suffered a massive setback as the Dalits and backward castes were rendered cashless in a cash-driven economy. As the Modi government resorted to rhetoric mongering, ranging from fighting against black money to bringing forth a cashless economic model, it was the Dalits, who along with the Muslims and backward castes suffered the most due to this decision of the government.
The havoc brought by the decision of demonetisation in the lives and livelihood of the people, has actually caused a severe setback to the BJP at the grassroots, as with the passing days the myths that shrouded the demonetisation exercise are falling off to exhibit how the Modi government was dancing to the tunes of the large corporations and imposing hardship on the people of the state to allow some long-term benefits for the rich.
Though the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, both trying to play the role of a spoilsport in the poll battle between the BSP and the BJP, opposed the demonetisation drive at different forums, however, they lacked the vehement opposition exhibited by the BSP supremo Mayawati. In her speeches, the Dalit leader showed repeatedly the hidden agenda of the Modi government behind the demonetisation drive and how the decision will adversely affect the lives of poor people, especially in agriculture dependent Uttar Pradesh, throwing the Dalits, Muslims, other oppressed castes and minority communities into a man-made economic chaos.
We are yet to see if Mayawati can rectify her past mistakes of allying with the saffron camp to stop Mulayam Singh Yadav, her bete noire. If Mayawati can capitalise on the crisis created by the Modi government through the demonetisation exercise and manages to wean the Muslim vote bank from the Samajwadi Party and build up an alliance between the antagonistic communities of Dalits and Muslims, then she can possibly defuse all speculations by poll pundits pointing towards a clear sweep by the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
As Uttar Pradesh assembly elections is ringing the bell and as the negative effects of the demonetisation exercise is unfolding throughout the state we will see how the BJP will try to distract the public attention towards communal hatred and violence by implementing one or the other plans that they have prepared to build up a new equation in the state. Also, we will be observing whether Mayawati or Akhilesh Yadav could muster the courage to thwart the nefarious designs of the saffron brigade or will they capitulate to the larger plan of the Hindutva camp.
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