The tide of public opinion is turning against the BJP. Popular anger over the deepening economic mess amid disappearing jobs and rural distress has been so overwhelming that the ruling party has been finding it difficult to face the people even in Modi’s home state of Gujarat that goes to polls by year end.

The BJP has gone back to Lord Ram and its core agenda with the likes of Yogi Adityanath, the saffron robed Uttar Pradesh chief minister, and Sangeet Som, the BJP rabble-rouser known for his role in the 2012 Muzaffarnagar carnage, leading the charge.

The BJP is queering the pitch by absurdly attacking the iconic Taj Mahal, which attracts millions of foreign tourists and foreign exchange every year, as something built by “traitors” and as a “blot” on the country’s image.

The BJP government after 3 years in office has decided to light up the temple town of Ayodhya with unprecedented celebrations led by Adityanath and the entire state machinery, amid the talk of building the Ram temple.

As if the trauma of disastrous demonetization wasn’t enough, this government rolled out the haphazardly executed GST amid great fanfare, comparing the occasion to India’s ‘freedom at midnight’ celebrations.

While the past three years of this government have been nothing but an endless nightmare for the Muslims, with the BJP politicians and their extended clan leading the frequent lynchings and mob attacks on the community, the BJP needs a major emotional issue to polarize the electorate in time for 2019.

The revival of Ayodhya row with the leading lights of the BJP openly threatening the Muslims to “accept” the Ram temple at the site where the 16th century mosque stood once, coupled with this huge Diwali jamboree by Adityanath is a step in that direction.

The deliberate targeting of the Taj — and by extension the Moguls and Muslims — is part of the same agenda to demonize the beleaguered minority.

The portrayal of Muslims as “foreign invaders and destroyers of Hindu temples” and attacking the celebrated national monuments like the Taj Mahal as illegitimate and oppressive is also part of a wider Hindutva project to denigrate the Muslims and question their “Indianness” and legitimacy, as Kuldeep Kumar suggests in the Wire.

Denying a people’s identity is the first step to delegitimizing and wiping them off. If you think that is a far-fetched idea, look no further than the neighboring Myanmar and its persecuted Rohingya Muslims to know what I mean.

If the world can stand and stare while the Burmese state turns its full wrath on a minuscule, oppressed minority, burning village after village with its inhabitants, driving nearly a million people into Bangladesh, anything is possible.

Who would have believed that nearly 14 centuries after Muslims made India their home and enriched it in a myriad ways — from culture and arts to architecture and food, they would be told that they do not belong here? Not only is the Muslim influence found in every sphere of activity, India would be incomplete as a nation and civilization without its Muslims.

— Aijaz Zaka Syed, Khaleej Times.