Upping the ante: Modi’s pre-election tactic
Narendra Modi’s agony of the day is that he cannot disown the burning Indian aircraft inside Pakistani territory and captivity of a living Wing Commander by Pakistan. Reinforcement of fault lines within Indian state and society are not leading Narendra Modi anywhere. He wants to win elections merely by arousing anti Pakistan sentiment. India got the befitting reply within a day when the PAF struck six targets inside India without crossing the line of control, and also shot down two Indian Air Force aircraft, one of the pilot, a senior IAF officer is now a Prisoner of War. Earlier cowardly incursion into Pakistan airspace by the IAF on February 26 bespeaks of how Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi is entrapped into self-imposed stupidities. Having failed to deliver on many accounts, Modi wants to win another term through mere rhetoric; and anti-Pakistan sentiment that generally goes down well with hard-line rural Hindu populace. Now India will remain on the edge as Pakistan takes its own time to pay back in the same coin. Longer the pause, higher the frustration in Indian political and military circles. Tensions would any way prevail till the general elections in India.
Historically India has continuously been losing territories due to secession of marginalised minorities through peaceful and or violent methods; yet it has not learnt any lesson. Even now, nearly two dozen secessionist movements of varying tendencies are operational. India has a mind-set of offering violence based response to all such movements by using disproportionately excessive force. This approach aggravates the problem rather than leading to any political solution. Nearly one million military persons are deployed in Indian occupied Kashmir to supress a peaceful movement for exercise of right of self-determination, duly approved by the United Nations. Recent Pulwama incident is a manifestation of reaction by oppressed Kashmiris against state patronized terrorism unleashed by India.
Current Hindutva renaissance and ensuing extremism in India coincides with the ultra-nationalist trends in America and some European countries and elsewhere, that’s why mushrooming of Hindutva has not raised as many eyebrows, amongst the comity of nations, as it should have done if it was a single isolated phenomenon.
While most of the governments and or societies of such effected countries are struggling to shed the baggage of extremism, Trump-Modi duo is amongst those few countries where incumbent governments are vehemently involved in strengthening the contributory factors of extremism.
Anti-Pakistan rhetoric has become a permanent feature of BJP’s electioneering process. Thus, prior to each election, it works hard for creating a situation, mostly through false flag events, so that Narendra Modi could raise the ante by stating that “If you are not voting for me you are voting for Pakistan”. And Pulwama incident fits well into Modi’s time tested methodology. And while the truth is just putting on its boots, falsehood has already travelled half of the World. With intended gains achieved and consolidated, the unveiling of truth, if at all it does happen, is hardly of any use. In the past such incidents have been planned to coincide with high profile foreign visits. This time it was Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to the region. Immediate objectives are winning of upcoming sham elections in Indian occupied Kashmir and strengthen BPJ’s position in 2019 general elections.
A cluster of voices from India keep providing fresh from the oven details of manifestations and effects that current version of Hindutva is having on governance and societal fissures constricting the rights and freedom of Indian minorities. In India, history is being distorted and a new narrative is being pushed down the throats of school going children. Renaming of places, roads, monuments and educational institutions to replace their historic identity with Hindu façade, attempts at dis-enfranchising Muslims in Assam, protests by high caste Hindus asking to do away with job reservations for marginalised segments of Indian population, efforts to deface Indian occupied Kashmir’s demographic contour, assertions to repeal article 370 and 35A of Indian constitution, replacing the nomenclature “Babri Masjid Dispute” with “Ram Mandar Dispute”, highhandedness of cow vigilante brigades, Ghar Wapsi and murmurs of Shudhi and Sanghtan are just some of the expressions of snowballing communal hatred emanating out of Neo-Hindutva.
At strategic level America’s China phobia and raising of local irritants in the way of peaceful rise of China has become a God sent enabler for India to pursue its Hindutva objectives while the US and its anti-China allies look the other side. While a fraction of Human Rights issues elsewhere prompt American and European uproar, a damning report by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights portraying abysmal HR situation in Kashmir has not pricked the conscience of comity of nations and constitution of Commission of Inquiry remains pending.
Every state and society has the right to follow any ideology and live according to a set of norms and values of its own choice. And rest of the world adjusts accordingly. The problem arises when a state or society proclaims to follow one thing but practices something opposite. This is the present day India’s dilemma. While its leadership says that it is a secular state, it is actually a practitioner of ultra-right Hindu nationalism. So there is huge gap between the expected and actual behaviour of Indian state, governance structures and society.
India has a history of discriminating against its minorities—within and outside the fold of Hinduism. Hindu mythology has imbedded powerful fault lines that support this trajectory. BJP is following a systematic approach to push Indian minorities against the wall. From symbolic to substantial, countless items are part of its strategy tool box underwritten by Chanakian methodology. Like India’s first Prime Minster, the incumbent prime Minster also gets inspirations from Chanakian teachings.
From Beef Ban and Love Jihad rhetoric to not fielding a single Muslim candidate in last state elections of the Uttar Pradesh point towards same objective that is to deprive minorities of their legitimate political, economic and social rights. Malice is bipartisan, with only a difference of shade. Congress represents a softer methodology towards Hindutva; and BJP demonstrates a crude version of Hindutva.
Not much is expected to change in near future with regard to Hindutva triggered extremism in India. Because there State institutions are also contributing towards the malice. The Supreme Court of India on February 11 directed the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to define the term ‘minority’ based on state-wise population, within three months. Currently it’s based on a nationwide population data. Indian Constitution doesn’t define the word ‘minority’. However, six religious communities (Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains) have been notified as a minority by the Indian Union.
A BJP leader had approached the court saying that Hindus, who are a majority community as per national data, are a minority in several north-eastern states and are deprived of benefits that are available to the minority communities in these states. The plea had sought minority status for Hindus in seven states and one Union Territory where their population is less than 50% — Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%) and Punjab (38.40%).
And, on 30th January 2019, when the whole India was observing the 71st martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi, the members of Hindu Mahasabha recreated the murder of Gandhi in Aligarh. Led by Hindu Mahasabha Secretary Pooja Shakun Pandey. A group of saffron wearing workers assembled with preparation for video shooting. Pandey fired three shots on the effigy of Gandhi and blood started dripping from the balloon behind the effigy. The Assembled Hindu Mahasabha workers shouted slogans condemning Gandhi and hailing Godse, the murderer of Gandhi. They declared that from this year on they will recreate Gandhi murder every year the way Ravan’s effigy is burned on Dusshera day.
Even notional balance of pluralism and secularism in India has now been disturbed with various steps taken by BJP in the last few decades in its attempt to assume power and then cling to it. While the constitution of India still maintains secularism as the country’s ideological identity, the prevalence of organizations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena along with the government-backed presence of their oppressive subsidiaries and allied outfits at the societal level is a clear contradiction of Indian secularist claims.
Pakistan’s response to the IAF strike would be measured. But the question is will India’s leadership be able to stomach it and whether will it jump up a couple of additional rungs on escalation ladder from where it with neither be able to move up, nor slide down without loss of face.