Yogi, Pandemic & Elections UP 2022
In terms of “cultural” policy and the exclusion of Hindu supremacists, Gujarat is giving way more and more to Uttar Pradesh. It is the largest Indian province with 403 seats in its Legislative Assembly. He sends 80 members to Lok Sabha. All of these factors come together and UP has long been regarded as the “heart” of India’s bodily politics. and has long dominated Indian politics.
However, in the past three decades he has not sent a single prime minister to Delhi. Ayodhya’s campaign, a central factor that gave birth to BJP hegemony, through the open tool of what political anthropologist Edward Anderson calls Soft and Hard Neo-Hindutva. It is a rabid anti-Muslim hatred and persecution, aided by a strong and sustained affirmation on social media to establish the Hindu Rashtra (nation). Hard Neo-Hindutva is being pursued by a myriad of Hindu extremist organizations in the country. Whereas Soft Neo-Hindutva is being sued by various international think tank organizations based primarily in UK and USA. Such organizations first made their presence felt in their resistance to the Emergency of 1975, when they called themselves “conveyors of truth”. and resisted the Congressional regime led by Indira Gandhi not only through the international media, but also domestically under the leadership of both socialists and a faction of communists. This rich diaspora also provides the necessary funds for BJP and its affiliates. This diaspora also has, within it, the considerable presence of Gujarati businessmen and professionals.
With BJP’s long period of power in Gujarat and over the past seven years at the Center, corporate finance has further strengthened BJP economically. This leaves all other rival political parties far behind in terms of economic and other resources to fight the elections.
Thus, the economic domination of Gujarat combined with the demographic strength of Uttar Pradesh together raise a question: even within the ideological rubric of neo-Hindutva, in terms of regional units, will Uttar Pradesh recover its dominance in Indian politics? Will Yogi succeed Modi, rivaling Amit Shah?
These issues have gained prominence with media speculation about an argument between Yogi Adityanath (Ajay Bisht), the Hindu ascetic warrior-ascetic chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and Narendra Modi, the prime minister. This emerged after / in the midst of the second wave of CoViD causing massive human deaths that put the state’s public health apparatus at severe risk. A series of media exposures of large numbers of corpses floating in rivers and buried in sand dunes along the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, mainly in Uttar Pradesh, has made matters worse. All of this prompted a series of questions: Did these developments create disenchantment among BJP supporters in the electorate? Can Yogi get re-elected? Yogi, should a Rajput (Thakur) be replaced to contain the anti-titular? Are the Brahmins disappointed with Yogi? Should we therefore give the Brahmins a visible part of the power of the UP?
Speculation about Yogi’s replacement has been compared to the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 when Narendra Modi was brought in to replace the chief minister to contain the anti-titulars. The only difference was that after the Gujarat earthquake, the relief work financed by the diaspora was carried out by the Sangh Pracharaks (volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), as well as companies, real estate developers and other capitalists. were rewarded with various types of contracts for urban reconstruction work following the earthquake. This in turn worked to fill (in return) the BJP coffers during the elections (demonstrated by Edward Simpson’s book.
Unlike Gujarat 2001, however, Uttar Pradesh has shown no sign of Pracharak’s dedication to helping people stricken with CoViD who are running for hospital beds; for breathing oxygen, or for various other drugs. The indifference of the state to indignity towards the dead is of course another grievance of the people. The poorer performance of the BJP in the local body elections reinforced anti-nomination speculation.
A historical point of comparison: Gujarat stood for state elections in December 2002 following an unprecedented massacre, that is, by launching an enraged neo-Hindutva program of majority consolidation. If this is a benchmark for comparison, then UP may also have to go to the polls early next year with a similar agenda of anti-Muslim hatred and majority persecution. in order to achieve Hindu consolidation! Only this will make the electorate forget the grievances related to CoViD against the regime in place. Signs of such a shift in focus have already started to manifest through UP. A series of recent events: the district administration demolishing a former mosque in Barabanki in violation of a High Court order on this matter, police officers killing a poor young Muslim vegetable seller in Unnao, a young Muslim lynched in Mewat (near UP), and wounding cow vigilantes to kill a young Muslim in Moradabad, etc. If one is to believe the unreported versions of some Muslim CoViD patients from Meerut and other adjacent towns, they have suffered numerous anti-Muslim slurs and other humiliations, even from doctors in some hospitals. Only one such barbarism has been reported, that of the Paras hospital in Agra, killing 22 patients, including an entire Muslim family (with the exception of a nine-year-old boy), Syed Afzal.
Although the proportion of Muslim representation in the recently concluded local body elections in the UP has not yet been achieved, it can be argued that increased Muslim representation is helping Hindu consolidation. This was one of the factors in 2017, which was preceded by what AK Verma called “the Muslim resurgence” in the local organs of the UP, even more in the urban local organs of western Uttar Pradesh. Besides that, another phenomenon, “everyday communitarianism”, has also been at work in Uttar Pradesh since 2013. Analysts have argued that, given outrage from international media and human rights organizations, this is a neo-Hindutva strategy rather than a full-scale massacre, tension in various parties, and creating fear among Muslims, is now the preferred strategy to support the Hindu consolidation behind the BJP.
News of the Yogi-Modi brawl, Yogi defying Modi’s desire to take a retired bureaucrat, Arvind Sharma into his fold; Sharma, a Brahmin, tried to be appointed Deputy Chief Minister, finally he is Deputy Chairman of the Party’s State Unity (BJP). Did all of these maneuvers help the BJP distract the attention of the media and people from the human miseries associated with CoViD? Will this policy of diversion really help the Yogi-BJP to combine to contain anti-titularity?
Considering the mood of BJP supporters as seen by various WhatsApp groups in Uttar Pradesh, the human miseries associated with CoViD, the lack of health preparedness and poor government governance – all of these government failures – were / are not talking points. This was long before the famous “positivity” speech delivered by Mohan Bhagwat. On the contrary, lies perpetrated vilifying Muslims by saying that the community did not contribute to funds raised by Modi to fight CoViD, and many other elements of this type of anti-Muslim hatred were in circulation and under debate. Ramdev as “contemporary face of neo-Hindutva” in India, appeared in these discussions when he attacked allopathy, making people feel that not having oxygen and hospital beds is hardly a matter of debate or regret. This is how he tried to dilute the people’s grievances against the government over public health care.
“Naive” discussions such as those praising Modi for promulgating the Enemy Property Act and thus “preventing” India’s enormous wealth and assets from being taken over by Pakistan were circulating on good. many of these WhatsApp groups by the time the pandemic was killing lives. Virtual spaces, these then spill over into the real spaces of village / mohalla gossip. This singular hatred also seeks to minimize the peasant grievances expressed by the ongoing Kisan Andolan.
The aggression of neo-Hindutva politics can therefore still serve to dilute anti-yogi resentment to a large extent. More importantly, whatever his electoral outlook in the face of immediate and long-term CoViD-related crises (including the ravaged economy, rising prices, rising unemployment, and huge profits at some capitalist houses), it seems inevitable that the BJP will resort to the policy of spitting out anti-Muslim hatred and perceived persecution (of the majority) with greater vehemence. Everything is done to cover up its own failures. It is the concern of what lies ahead as we need more inclusive governance.
Courtesy of: Sabrang India
(Mohammad Sajjad teaches history at Aligarh Muslim University. The opinions expressed are personal.)