The opposition Congress Party has beaten PM Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party in three key northern states indicating that the Indian electorate is shunning divisive politics ahead of the general elections next year.
The results declared in early December of recently held states elections brought relief to most Indians in general and Muslims and other minorities in particular as the ruling Hindu nationalist party suffered heavy defeat ahead of the national elections to be held during the first half of 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party lost power in three key northern States of Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in a major blow to his authority. The opposition Congress party won state elections in style.
While BJP totally deprived Muslim candidates ticket nominations in various state elections over the past couple of years, Congress did not hesitate to field Muslim candidates.
A total of 19 Muslim candidates won in three States. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen of firebrand Muslim politician Asaduddin Owaisi fielded seven Muslim candidates from old city in Hyderabad, all of them winning their Muslim majority constituencies.
In Rajasthan, Congress emerged as the single largest party with 100 MLAs in the 200-member Assembly while BJP which had won 163 seats in 2013 was reduced to 73 this time.
In Madhya Pradesh, the fight was much closer, yet Congress edged past BJP to win sufficient seats to form the government with the support of a few members from minor parties.
In the state of Chattisgarh, the governing BJP was routed with a huge win for Congress. In the States of Telangana and Mizoram, local parties were popular and won elections. However in these states too, Congress won significantly more seats than BJP.
Ever since Narendra Modi led BJP (The Bharatiya Janata Party)came to power in 2014 in Delhi, the elected government ran a divisive campaign and allowed Hindu far-right groups to constantly drum up issues against Muslims and other minorities.
Dozens of poor Muslim villagers have been killed by so-called cow vigilantes in the past four years, often falsely blaming them for cow slaughter, the animal Hindus hold sacred in their religious beliefs.
As states elections drew closer, Hindu extremists raised the Ram temple issue in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya where centuries-old Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.
This had lead to violent riots across the country, resulting in thousands of deaths, most of them Muslims. Over the past few months, Hindu fanatics held major rallies in Ayodhya and in other cities across the country.
Although the court case over the disputed land is being heard in India’s supreme court, the ruling BJP party and its allies of extremist Hindu groups such as VHP (The Vishva Hindu Parishad) and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) are pressuring the government to issue executive order to pave the way for building the temple where Babri Masjid stood.
Exhorting the crowd to take a vow to build a temple of their God Ram in Ayodhya, Hindu monk Avdheshanand Giriji Maharaj, said: “The government and the Supreme Court must realize that it is a matter of religious sentiment for Hindus who have been waiting to see a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.”
As large crowds of radical Hindus gathered in Ayodhya in November, many Muslims in the town left their homes fearing harassment and violence against them.
To keep up the Hindutva agenda alive, BJP deployed Up Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, known for his vitriolic anti-Muslims rhetoric, as the chief campaigner in the state elections. Yogi, a monk-turned politician, was made the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, in a controversial appointment by PM Modi.
Not only BJP has been rewriting the history books to demonize 800-year-old Muslim rule, Yogi, with his bigoted ideology, has been busy in renaming cities, railway stations and buildings to remove historic Islamic names and change them to symbolise Hinduism and Hindu ideologues. He went on to say that if required he will not hesitate to change the world famous “Taj Mahal” into “Ram Mahal”.
The chief election strategist of BJP, Amit Shah has a terrible record for his role in the worst communal riots of Independent India in Gujrat in 2002 under then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The trio of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath have successfully incited Hindus over the years on communal grounds to win votes. However, now the Indian electorate has realised that without economic growth and effective work, they cannot be fooled repeatedly with hate politics.
Indians have been fed up with failed policies of Modi government over the past 4 years. The farmers were deeply distressed leading to the big number of suicides in the states where elections were held.
BJP’s economic policies failed as joblessness among the youth and rising inequalities in the society also became the main agenda during the elections.
Demonetisation and GST became extremely unpopular as small business suffered at the cost of big business.
With national parliamentary elections only six months away, these State elections were described as semi-finals by many political pundits.
The election results brought back in contention the oldest political party of pre-partition times which was in the wilderness over the past few years since Hindu nationalists had captured power in Centre and in many important states.
The grand old Congress Party has put great faith in its young party leader Rahul Gandhi, the great-grandson of India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, grandson of Prime Minister of 1970’s Indira Gandhi and son of Rajeev Gandhi, the PM assassinated in 1991.
It is becoming increasingly likely that Nehru dynasty in India may rule the nation for many more years to come and hopefully succeed in uniting all Indians away from BJP’s hate and division agenda towards economic prosperity and harmony in the country.
It is also hoped that the young Congress leadership led by Rahul Gandhi will reciprocate the peace agenda by the new leadership in Pakistan led by PM Imran Khan thus minimising tensions in the region and opening borders for trade and travel between the two neighbours united by common history, language and culture.