Fiction takes its inspiration from reality, but sometimes the latter’s turnout is stranger and more shocking than the former. I'm neither a great fan of Arthur Conan Doyle nor do I have a personal liking for conspiracy theories. Knowing very well that some will rebuff this offhand as one, I still feel duty bound to highlight what seems to have been a dreadful and insidious political stratagem that boomeranged. All the while, the public perception about this whole episode is that it was a series of unfortunate "stray" incidents happening at unfavourable times that led to the debacle of India’s ruling party in the Bihar election.
Contrasting the DNA of Bihar with that of Hindutva
In the State of Bihar, 85% of the population lives in rural lands. This place is quite well known for the harmonious and peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths, castes and cultures. A great many here are known to earn their livelihood working in age-old professions like dairy farming, agriculture, cattle farming etc. Words like “cattle” or, must I say, “cow”, have the potential to turn more heads here than in any other state in India. Whether one likes to believe it or not, caste based politics is woven into Bihar's social fabric, more so than in any other state in India.
Understandably, like many, including Muslims, the people of Bihar wanted a representative whom they can call their own, one who belongs to their community, caste, or race and so understands the subtleties of their needs better; one who is more active, sensitive and sympathetic in taking their issues to the outside world so they get wider attention. It is completely democratic and no less secular for people to vote on the basis of regional, religious, lingual or caste affiliations. Casting aspersions on people's motives—accusing them of being separatists, fundamentalists, prejudiced, backward, etc.—if they refused to vote for only two or three major political parties should be seen as vile and offensive in a secular and democratic framework.
Caste politics is, of course, the biggest hurdle facing the Hindutva juggernaut. The only way to circumvent this problem of caste, regional, ethnic and lingual loyalties is to gather support under the banner of one 'religionational loyalty' i.e. Indian Hindu loyalty. This has always been the primary strategy of Hindutva forces since the early days.
Unless various ethnic identities remain in the forefront of a Bihari mind or, for example, lingual identity is in the forefront of a Tamil mind, they will never eagerly join hands to attain the Hindutva Holy Grail i.e. ethnic cleansing—preserving indigenous religions by eliminating peoples of nonindigenous faiths like Islam and Christianity—either through conversion or slaughter.
If not for the Bihar elections, Hindutva forces would have preferred to maintain their "Developmental Agenda" mask for some more time, thereby gaining the trust of the rest of India, rallying more approval behind them for their real agenda before they make their final deadly assault with full force.
Well, not everything happens exactly as one would desire. Given the insecurity and unpredictability of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections looming over them, this litmus test had to be conducted sooner rather than later. They were sufficiently convinced that it would be possible to rally most of the Biharis, except, of course, Muslims, who should be disenfranchised to begin with—under the banner of one Hindu nationalist brotherhood.
Bihar's victory would have been a great moral boost for the Hindutva agenda. When a laidback polity like Bihar is shown to be sufficiently under the sway of Hindutva ideology, it unequivocally means, so is the rest of India. Implementation of their agenda could have begun on a large scale with impunity. In the case of Bihar, a struggle for the protection of the Holy Cow would sufficiently prove their credentials as the Hindu Crusaders. The gratuitous and constant mention of the word “Pakistan” in a derogatory manner would sufficiently prove their love for the Indian nation. They were quite confident that they could polarize Bihar enough to be able to get to power.
I don't think any of their party members are really "loose cannons". Rather, they are meticulously performing their part of the play based on a well crafted script. As the saying goes, “You play the thief and I’ll play the cop.” A group will reassure the pro-Hindutva population that they have not forgotten their core agenda and also help to communalize more people. Another group will reassure the secular population, foreign investors and corporate business that it’s an aberration not the norm, so the status quo is maintained until the right time.
A "stray" incident happened well in time before the Bihar election, but not so early that it is forgotten by election time, and not so close to the election that people have little time to form an opinion. A couple of days before the polling, people's memories were given a fresh jolt by releasing an advertisement—with a girl sympathetically hugging a cow which had a great potential to subliminally stoke the fire of their self-respect to stand up on their two feet to support their "brothers" who are struggling for this noble cause, a cause which is supposedly so close to every Bihari’s heart. Deliberate delay of Mr. prime minister in tweeting or commenting strongly against Dadri incident, had more than a few incentives.
1. A clear message is given to the people of Bihar that it is he who is their real Hindu brother, the
one and only saviour of their Gow Mata.
2. Tacit support is given to the Hindutva Forces. Subtle reassurance that he continues to be the
reincarnation of Maha Rana Pratap, an avatar they so dearly cherished.
3. Silent but strong warning to the Muslim community; an implicit reminder that he is still capable of repeating the Gujarat story if they come between him and his Hindutva goals.
During the election campaign, fire of people's nationalistic sentiments is stoked to an extent that voting for BJP is made synonymous to upholding indian pride and anything contrary meant being one with the enemies of the nation or I should say, being the enemy of the nation. It was indeed an unmistakable way of stirring people's conscience, demogogy at its best. A perfect recipe for a resounding success in Bihar.
Hats off to Amit's ShahKar (Hindi words for a Masterpiece). I'm astonished that a plan so incisive and well executed as this fell flat on its face. Well, I'm sure they will think over its shortcomings and soon come up with a new one, superior and foolproof, next time. So stay tuned...
A moment of musing
Collectively as Indian it's high time for us to deeply think over this whole issue. We cannot afford to continue being puppets in the hands of these divisive forces. Hindus and Muslims must come together to raise their voice and say "Not In Our Name".
Currently, there is deep misunderstanding between Muslims and Non-Muslims of India but of course, not of their own making. A section of muslim community is slowly getting alienated from United-India narrative. Many muslims see the raising of Mr. Modi to Delhi’s throne, as a reward given to him for his triumph in Gujarat.
Before I write anything further,I would like to reassure Muslims that the great majority of the people of India were actually bowled by Modi's “developmental agenda” spin. They went with him in the hope that he might revive Indian economy. I know that majority of non-Muslim Indians do not condone the agenda of these hate mongers just as majority of Muslims hate to support anti-national separatist elements. But regretfully, both of the communities are guilty of not coming out proactively to reassure the other enough that they have no malice towards them. Specially, Indian Muslims need to find ways to tear off the “unpatriotic Indians” label forcefully attached to them.
On the other side, "The court gave Modi a clean chit? Don't you have trust in our legal system?" logic doesn't work with great many Muslims. I will explain, why. As we understand, laws of majority of nations and great many religions are based on a general precept, articulated in a famous statement of 18th century English Jurist William Blackstone:
"The law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer".
Everybody respects this humanitarian principle but being released due to lack of sufficient evidence does not necessarily means one is completely innocent of any crime. It will be impossible for Mr. Modi to come out of the dark and ever growing shadow of suspicion.
It doesn't take a lot of intelligence for anyone to understand that incidents like Babri Masjid Demolition, Gujarat Pogrom, Dadri lynching, etc. are impossible without a signal or at least, connivance of higher authorities. Innocent people are recruited for these horrific crimes by giving them high hopes of reward i.e., prominence in the inner political circle and assurance to help them escape the law. Of course, they have an excellent precedent in front of them set by our Prime Minister himself.
Given that few of Mr. Modi’s close Sangh associates are convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment (It is not difficult for anyone to find Mr. Modi’s picture with Babu Bajrangi), given that a minister of his Gujarat cabinet were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, given that Tehelka Sting operation videos are in front of everyone to watch and listen, (Everyone heard the name of ”Narendra Bhai” in those videos), would it be possible for anyone, especially someone whose loved ones were massacred in that pogrom, to believe that his close associates can conspire to commit a crime of such mammoth and historic proportion and the then chief Minister had completely no clue at all? Its an open secret by now that he signalled the police to go easy on the rioters.of Gujarat.
It was and is the duty of every responsible, secular citizen to understand the sensitivities of others. Just by keeping themselves away from someone of such doubtful integrity non-Muslims can, to a great extent, clear up the misunderstandings of Muslims.This will be a great step toward preserving the secular fabric of our great nation which divisive forces want to rip apart.
Think, in whose hands we are giving the reins of our country? People who have never known the emotions of a father or a husband, cannot relate with the anguish and fear experienced by a man for his son’s life or his wife’s safety. Brains of these Brahmacharis brought up on the poison of hatred for others, do not seem to have evolved beyond the one found in reptiles. They will have no compunction to build the fortress of their political success on the dead bodies of other’s children. They do not care whether these bodies belong to Hindus or Muslims or Christians. In closing, I think Bihar election result was a step in right direction. “Bihar’s lamp” will surely show a better alternative to rest of India.
[Ahmed Shadhili is a Computer engineer by profession, a politics enthusiast and freelance writer based in Hyderabad.]