Did the opposition parties—unable to find a formula that could challenge the BJP and its politics for eight years—listen to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal? He just gave them an epic template to respond to the politics of polarisation.
Kejriwal recently gave us a ‘thug life’ moment when he attacked the BJP for demanding that The Kashmir Files be made tax-free. The AAP convener simply asked BJP leaders to ensure the makers of the film upload it on YouTube for free. Through the speech that has gone viral, Kejriwal successfully called out the brazen Hindu pandering pursued by the BJP in light of the film that deals with the fate of Kashmiri Pandits.
The BJP wants every Indian to see The Kashmir Files — how Kashmiri Pandits were “butchered” by ‘Muslims’. But the party would have done them much good had the movie been put on YouTube, as the Delhi CM suggested.
The thing is, we’re all dying anyway, either of Covid or hate. And we’ve all outraged and raised hell over the terrible mismanagement of both Covid and hate, by the Narendra Modi government. But we’ve also understood by now how the ‘hate factory’ works to supply campaign fodder to win elections. To counter this spread, good samaritans have done countless fact-checks and on-ground reports hoping to show the truth to haters. Did all this work? Not really. If there ever was an index of hate, it must have reached its maximum reading by now. So, we might as well have a good laugh over our sordid, propaganda-rich reality before we die.
Thug life responses can call out BJP’s majoritarian pandering.
Being logical in the face of hate
How about we just turn around and ask them ‘how’? Have they made arrangements for our departure? Will they facilitate our visas? Will we get to travel economy or first class? Will they pay for our accommodation? Invest in our startups?
Or when trolls ask us to show our ‘documents’ to prove our citizenship, we should ask back what if we can’t show them all our papers? And what are they going to do with so many illegal people residing in India without their papers? You’re not building housing for your citizens, how many detention centres can we expect for illegal migrants? So, are the “paperless folks” supposed to jump into the Arabian sea and swim to Saudi Arabia hoping they’ll be accepted because they are Muslims?
When the CM of the state where Taj Mahal is situated says the monument does not represent Indian culture, one wonders what good will it do to any Indian if it would cease to exist? The Taj Mahal lies at the core of Indian tourism, and thus is a revenue generator. But who cares when the currency of hate seems to be of greater value? In 2017, BJP MP Sangeet Som had said that the Taj Mahal should not be considered a part of Indian history because it was built by “traitors”.
Rallying cries on social media claiming that the Taj Mahal used to be a Shiva temple just shows how singular Right-wing mindset is. Babri Masjid is also considered to have been constructed over a Ram temple. We all know what happened there. So, maybe the appropriate response to every Taj hater would be to just do the needful and demolish the damn thing. We dare you to do it. We double dare you. I’d like to see if the CM of the most populous state of India can get away with lumpen elements demolishing one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s not a new suggestion after all. Rampur MLA Azam Khan had suggested the very same thing once to Yogi Adityanath — of helping him demolish the Taj Mahal.
Then there are men in saffron robes holding conferences asking Hindus to pick up arms. A dharam sansad is organised to talk about how to weaponise the majority to protect them from the measly 14.3 per cent Muslims in India. That’s 966.3 million Hindus who need to protect themselves from 172.2 million Muslims. I mean, although my math is poor but even if 1 Muslim was to decide to harm a Hindu, six Hindus could just choose to sit on him and make him go silent. Buying weapons for a task that is this easy seems to be too alarmist for these saffron-robed, paranoia-stricken folks.
Even regional languages are being used to spread hate and indulge in majoritarian supremacy. Home Minister Amit Shah is now insisting we all must speak Hindi, which he says is the “language of India”. Tamil is the oldest language of India but who cares about facts anyway. A.R. Rahman reacted to this news with the image of “Thamizhanangu” or “Goddess Tamil” to insist on his mother tongue – Tamil. Wonder if someone in the government saw it.
Of course, the larger point of speaking Hindi is to make it easier for a Hindi-speaking party to win elections in the South. But if the urge to win elections is so strong, how about the BJP ministers learning Tamil or Kannada or Malayalam? Perhaps people from the South should turn around and say: first you speak our language, then we speak yours. Sounds like a fair deal.
The problem with the majoritarian pandering that India is seeing today is that it is based on fables and imagined realities. An entire country is being portrayed as victims at the hands of the minorities who have been ‘appeased’ through the ages. Which is why India’s majority today feels attacked by a hijab or a turban, which it sees as symbolic weapons, and believes that the rights of Hindus come first. So, government buildings can have temples and roads can have pandals and Hindu congregations but the moment a girl enters her school or college in a ‘hijab’, it becomes a public nuisance.
The author is a political observer who tweets @zainabsikander. Views are personal.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)