While the magnitude of the stunning victory of the BJP in UP was still sinking in, the elevation of Yogi Adityanath as the state’s CM has been too numbing a development to be even begun to be understood. Nobody could have imagined in their worst imagination that a sectarian rabble rouser would get the top job. The only attribute that has made Yogi a conspicuous figure in Indian politics and also helped him clamber through BJP ranks is his rank anti-Muslim image. Even until as recently as the UP election campaign, Yogi hurled obscenities at Muslims. In past, he has threatened to rape “dead Muslim women”, even exhorted Hindus to kidnap “hundred Muslim women” in retaliation for one Hindu woman marrying a Muslim which he called Love Jihad.
Sample more: “If they kill one Hindu, we won’t go to the police, we will kill ten Muslims”. Besides this, Yogi has been involved in instigating mobs against Muslims. There are cases for rioting and the attempt to murder registered against him. But despite all this dubious background, BJP didn’t think twice before anointing him as the UP CM. The message that it sends across is deeply troubling. And it is not only about the changing ideological direction of the country, a project which has already been in process since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister in 2014. It is about the accommodation in this project of the lumpenist extensions of the BJP’s sectarian message. In fact, it is the lunatic fringe of the party that is becoming India’s political mainstream now.
Perhaps the most troubling dimension of the development is the way Muslims are becoming the bogeymen of India’s politics. Hate against them brings the majority community together. Any leader who badmouths the community, threatens them with rape and killings or has a long record of anti-Muslim activities easily gets the top billing among the politicians in the country and rises to bag the plum political posts. Why is it so? How come the community which is just 14 percent of the India’s population has become such an abject object of the majority hate. Why should a leader who oppresses the community most sees an overnight rise in his political profile and becomes the most deserving candidate for the top job in the country? This is a question that stares today’s India in the eye. An objective answer to it - or at least a search for this answer - is what is urgently needed to comprehend and engage with the current political direction of the country.
On its face, it is such an immoral situation to be in. True, a part of the explanation lies in the huge historical baggage of the country – the long Muslim rule and the Partition. But the current situation has unfolded 70 years after the partition, by when the demons from the time should have been put to rest. But as Yogi’s election would tell you, these demons seem to have been unleashed now on the Indian political scene. We are again threatened by the history and we hope that an India otherwise looking forward to a leap into a great power status is not overwhelmed by it.