Crying over spilt milk
Right wing liberals and others till the other day, starry eyed about the dynamic Narendra Modi, happily believing Modi would unleash tremendous energy to usher in the supposed change to make India Great, seem to be ruing the foisting of Hindutva rabble rouser Yogi Adityanath the Mathadheesh of the Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur as the chief minister upon the unsuspecting people of Uttar Pradesh.
There was an element of shock and disbelief in the edit columns of many mainstream newspapers over the decision of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in choosing the vituperative, communally venomous Yogi, to lead the state with maximum diversity. Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta represents that section of the liberals who when Modi was rising as the star campaigner for the BJP and aspiring to become the Prime Minister of India, had reposed full faith in him for shaking India out of its inertia and lethargy and march Bharat Mata to the tune of modern development and progress, disdainfully dismissing the Government of Manmohan Singh as too weak and Sonia Gandhi’s leadership as corrupt. He of course though extremely erudite was only one of our leading intellectuals and generally the upwardly mobile urban Savarna class along with the aspirational youth who reposed all their confidence and hope in Narendra Modi.
However today Mehta considers Modi’s choice of the Yogi both “odious and ominous” and he explains why it is ominous because, “it sends as clear a signal (that) the already accomplished political fact of the marginalization of minorities in UP and elsewhere will now be translated into a programme of their cultural, social and symbolic subordination.”
But he and the liberals like him fail to appreciate that this is a natural corollary to the Kabristan vs. Shamshan and Diwali vs Ramzan debate started by none other than the Prime Minister himself. Besides the Hindu Hriday Samrat of Gujarat (and now there is one more in Yogi Adityanath) has on all crucial occasions since the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 in all over Gujarat, shown his true colours be it in Bihar or Assam or earlier Maharashtra or Jammu and Kashmir elections of an underlying intolerance of not just Muslims but all those who are opposed to his and his alma mater Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”s exclusivist thinking.
Even 15 years after Godhra no decent Muslim is allowed to move out of the Juhapura and Kalupur ghettos. The victims of Gujarat riots are still living on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on the landfill with all civic amenities denied to them. Denial of schools to Muslim children victims of that mass murder, refusal to implement the Prime Minister’s 15 point programme of scholarships for the Muslim students and holding his purse strings tight against the implementation of MNREGA in Gujarat, contemptuously dismissing it as a wasteful dole. That was the Gujarat model which enthused our chatterati to pitch for ‘Modi, Modi’, in 2014 and apparently in 2017 as well.
Mehta says and I agree with him that the choice of a disruptive and divisive saffronite like Yogi is “now not a statement about UP” alone but “about the prime minister’s inclinations and judgment. In the moment of his triumph he has chosen to defeat India,” started realizing our liberal belatedly now. But he forgets that more than Yogi, Modi is first a RSS pracharak and Guru Golwalkar said in a Hindu Rashtra Muslims will seek nothing and get nothing. Anybody following the teachings of Guru Golwalkar will naturally provide no space to the Muslims.
The liberal’s angst shows when Mehta says what none of us dare say publicly that, “If the legislature electing Adityanath is indeed the best interpretation of the mandate then the Indian democracy is corroded to the core. For it is effectively saying that India is now communalized to the point where a figure like Adityanath is the popular choice. We have to then give up the last vestiges of democratic hope in the idea that while the people may misjudge or commit mistakes, while they may occasionally excuse a crime, they will not vote for the wholesale destruction of basic values.
“If Adityanath is indeed the popular choice, then the crisis of Indian democracy deepens. It will essentially seem like a contest between fundamentalism and democratic misanthropy, both destructive of the idea of democracy,” says our liberal democrat. But though belatedly it dawns upon our liberal that, “There is an element of truth in Yogi Adityanath’s claim that the BJP is consolidating a politics that goes beyond caste…” and laments that “India’s enemies will be exulting that at a moment in world history when all India had to do was to have a sensible policy, we have chosen to empower the worst of ourselves.” Yes indeed the Yogi along with Modi and Amit Shah have been succeeding in taking politics “beyond caste.”
But that is exactly what Modi had sought and achieved successfully first in Gujarat since 2002 and now in the country from the day he looked in the direction of Delhi. That is the reason why we screamed full throated, ‘Modi, Modi’ and gave him over 300 seats in Parliament, because we detested the rise of OBC and Dalit leaders like Lalu Prasad, Mayawati and even that dubious suspect Mulayam Singh Yadav and determined to rid the nation’s politics of these “despicable” characters. Forget about Lalu, Mulayam and Mayawati, we despised with equal vehemence even the urbane technologically savvy Akhilesh Yadav and his pretty and sober wife Dimple. For that we needed to unite the Hindus, drowning their caste differences and mutual distrust to fight one enemy. Modi hinted at that enemy, in his famous speech of Kabristan vs. Shamshan and Ramzan vs Diwali. Amit Shah elaborated further labelling all the opponents of BJP as KASAB. Remember what he said when he campaigned in Bihar that they will burst firecrackers in Pakistan if BJP were to lose in Bihar, implying that not just Muslims but all those opposing Modi and BJP are Pakistani agents. Shah didn’t come back to tell us what they did in Pakistan when BJP actually lost Bihar.
Never mind that, we are in UP right now and if Amit Shah addressed 90 rallies, according to media reports in the run up to the UP elections, Yogi addressed 80 and all along his refrain in almost all speeches was Kabristan, love jihad and cow slaughter. So from Modi to Yogi there is only one formula to make the Shudras and Dalits forget the discrimination and humiliation heaped upon them by the Savarnas over the centuries, to put behind them Rohith Vemula and Una, by identifying the bloody Musalman as their real enemy.
Human memory is pretty short and we tend to forget why and how one time Hindu Hriday Samrat, Kalyan Singh, former chief minister of UP was sacked unceremoniously, because he dared to espouse the cause of the OBCs after returning to power in 1995. Today the first act of Yogi is to wash the chief minister’s residence in Lucknow with cow milk to rid it of all the pollution caused by his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav, a Shudra. Simultaneously the meat business has been targeted even in Ghaziabad far away from Lucknow or Gorakhpur and this is not cow but legally permitted buffalo. Still it is obvious that by forcing vegetarianism on all and sundry you don’t just target the Malichh Musalman but the Malichh Dalit as well and in a way it serves well those Dalits and backwards who voted the BJP against the Muslims, Yadavs and Jatavs.
This is not to embarrass our liberal, but we made our choice way back in 1990 when V P Singh brought in Mandal and immediately thereafter the then RSS Sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras came to Delhi, whereupon L K Advani rode upon a mechanized rath from Somnath in Gujarat to Samastipur in Bihar en route Babri Masjid in Ayodhya leaving behind a trail of blood and gore to counter Mandal. Eventually Lalu Prasad applied brakes upon this Yatra for which Lalu was never forgiven and stands disenfranchised today by the Brahmanical establishment including our casteist judiciary.
Whatever liberals like Mehta may say, this victory in UP and then the crowning of Thakur Adityanath is a vindication of the assertion of the Savarnas. Gilles Verniers of Ashoka University informs us that “the return to power of the BJP in UP has led to a resurgence of the representation of the upper caste in new assembly” and how? BJP which was ostensibly wooing the non Yadav backwards and non Jatav Dalits gave 86 per cent tickets to the upper caste (Brahmins, Thakurs and Banias). The new assembly has 44.3 % upper caste, highest since 1980 and within the BJP the upper caste share is 48.2 %. Within the upper caste the Thakurs and Banias have increased the most, says Verniers giving out percentage figures.
He also gives us a regionwise breakup saying that upper castes make up more than 55 % MLAs from Awadh, 43,5% in Doab, 39% in the East 47.3% in Bundelkahand, 53.4% in North Eastern UP and slightly more than a third in Rohilkhand and western UP.
There was such a hue and cry about Yadavisation of UP. It turns out in the last assembly they constituted only 18 % and now their numbers have come down to mere 5%. But the other OBCs have not benefitted from this. The Rajbhars, Nishads, Malis, Baghels, Shakyas, Kumhars, Sainthwars and Sainis etc totally got just 28 seats in the present UP assembly which means the representation of each of these groups remains extremely modest,” says Verniers. So much for Modi’s hype of giving a fair share to all those denied so far by the Yadavs to non Yadav OBCs. The so called OBC allies of Modi in the NDA, Apna Dal of Anupriya Patel or the Rajbhar party or the Nishad party also brought in Brahmins. Apna Dal gave two upper caste MLAs and won three reserved seats, The Rajbhars’ SBSP got only one Rajbhar MLA and the sole MLA of Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal got only one MLA in the assembly and he is a Brahmin.
Eventually it is all about the return of the Savarnas to rule UP, whatever may be the guise. Insofar as that the Sangh agenda has succeeded completely not just in suppressing the hated Musalman but even more so in completely marginalizing the backwards and the Dalits. Mehta and many right wing liberals may dismiss Marx disdainfully but only he understood and warned us against the poison of religion being inflicted upon the underprivileged. It’s been happening in Pakistan since 1977 and we are successfully emulating the General Mohammad Ziaul Haq model. We should therefore easily anticipate where it will lead.