Recent moves by the government and the BJP suggest that in preparation for the forthcoming elections next year the Modi/Shah duo is opting to polarize the electorate on religious majority-minority grounds as part of its electoral strategy. Since the tall promises made by Modi in 2014 of “acchhe din” (good times) and “sabka vikas” (development for all) have turned out to be mere “jumlas” (fakes), and the BJP seems to be losing popularity in its key strongholds in the north and west as evidenced by its defeat in several by-elections, Modi and Shah seem to have decided to fall back on their tried and trusted strategy of consolidating the (upper caste) Hindu vote, demonizing their political opponents as anti-national, and “othering” the religious minorities who are not going to vote for BJP.


Interestingly, Dalits appear to be now included by BJP in the bag of the “other” as evidenced by the reaction of central and (Maharashtra) state governments to the Bhima-Koregaon events as well as the label of jihadi Islam now being pinned by the Sangh Parivar on Dalit leaders like Jignesh Mewani and the charge of Naxalism leveled at other Dalit sympathizers.


The deliberately contemptuous break-up by BJP of its coalition with PDP without prior notice in J&K is a pointer to the abandonment of its earlier accommodative strategy (the “sabke saath” half of Modi’s slogan) that tried to gather at least some minorities in its embrace. Given the social and cultural make up of the vast majority of BJP supporters, its toleration of the lynching of (mainly) Muslims but also Dalits by its followers in Rajasthan, UP, Haryana, and Gujarat with local police looking the other way, and the inexorable and unstoppable rise of struggle and resistance by Kashmiri youth, Modi and Shah seem to have concluded that accommodation is less likely than hardline Hindutva to be a winning strategy in 2019.


Linking the Bhima-Koregaon violence of January 1, 2018 to allegations of Naxalism hurled by the police recently against those supporting Dalit causes is another political strategy that relies on legal harassment of opposition figures depicted as anti-national. In arresting five Dalit supporters, among them a lawyer, a social worker and activist, and an academic, amid claims of a sensational, possibly imaginative, Maoist-inspired plot, based on a letter allegedly recovered from the home of one of those arrested, to assassinate none other than Modi, the police, or rather their political bosses, are attempting to forge a narrative of links between jihadi Islam, Naxals, and Dalits. As Ajay Gudavarthy indicated in The Wire (June 25): “All of these will be now be stitched to the Kashmiri separatists and militancy in the Valley. With the pulling out of the government in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP is attempting to entrench the image of Muslims as essentially being ungrateful and unreasonable… to consolidate the sense of violation among the majority Hindus, alongside consolidating the upper-caste vote-bank by isolating the Dalits.” Senior columnist Prem Jha writing in The Wire warns that “The letter allegedly recovered from the house of Rona Wilson, the Delhi-based public relations secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), which details a meeting in which Maoist leaders ‘decided to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’, needs to be treated with the utmost of scepticism. This is not only because of its suspicious convenience, for the discovery has come at a time when the BJP has lost a string of elections and by-elections to an increasingly unified, secular opposition. It is also because the letter contains virtually irrefutable evidence of having been doctored.”


Meanwhile, further evidence that Modi’s “acchhe din” have now become just another “jumla” comes from a report in the Hindu newspaper of June 26, 2018 that “India has been ranked as the most dangerous country out of the world’s 10 worst countries for women, behind Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, according to a poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The same poll conducted in 2011 had placed India at the fourth place. India was followed by Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Nigeria and U.S.A — in that order. “The world’s second most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people, ranked as the most dangerous on three of the topic questions — the risk of sexual violence and harassment against women, the danger women face from cultural, tribal and traditional practices, and the country where women are most in danger of human trafficking including forced labor, sex slavery and domestic servitude,” according to the Foundation.

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