Prime minister Narendra Modi has conveyed greetings to Muslim community during Ramazan hoping that the occasion will deepen the bond of brotherhood and the spirit of harmony in our society.
This can be viewed as a customary greetings from the head of the government.
But unlike the other prime ministers which India had, Modi carries an image of a politician whose practices reflect majoritarianism. He is perhaps the only prime minister who has refused to host an Iftar party leaving many to believe that even after occupying the top post Modi is being guided by his majoritarian ideology.
But after he rode to power in 2014, Modi had on several occasions articulated the virtues of having a composite culture and plurality.
Now when Modi is hoping that brotherhood and spirit of humanity will be enriched during these Ramazan days, What is happening in the India’s hinterlands? How the ruling party is trying to destroy even the modicum of harmony that exist in this country.
Modi’s BJP is trying to polarise voters on communal lines again in Uttar Pradesh. Its a work-in-progress project kicked off by party chief Amit Shah two years ago.
During the last Lok Sabha elections, Muzaffarnagar riots played an important role. BJP managed to win 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from the politically crucial state.
Now the party seems to be pitching its hope on Dadri, a small town in UP that skirts national capital Delhi.
It is here Muhammad Akhlaq, a 50 year old Muslim, was lynched last September, by a mob on the allegation that he ate beef.
A report by a forensic lab which was published last week, is now aiding the BJP and its saffron affiliates.
The report says the meat seized by the police was beef. The fact that the recovery memo prepared by the police mentions that the meat was seized from the village intersection where the violent mob had assembled before attacking Akhalq’s residence.
Modi’s party leaders are once again eyeing an opportunity by whipping up a frenzy mob demanding that the compensation extended to Akhalq’s family be withdrawn and action taken for storing beef in their fridge.
Modi, who advocates about brotherhood does not deem it necessary to prevail upon his party leaders from vitiating the atmosphere. His ministerial colleague Sanjeev Balyan now wants a probe to ascertain who all ate beef along with ill fated Muhammad Akhalq.
Sangeet Som, another BJP lawmaker wants a case be registered against Akhalq family for having kept beef in his house. Local BJP with all the help from its national and state leaders are trying desperately to polarise people on communal lines by spreading canards. And Modi oblivious of this is talking about brotherhood in the Islamic holy month.
BJP’s polarising campaign is getting them votes and winning them elections. That is the takeaway from Assam elections.
BJP’s first victory in northeastern state was made possible by pitting one set of people against another.
One factor that helped propel BJP to power in Assam has been their promise to uproot a significant population who have been living in the state for generations.
Modi himself made polarising speech in Assam during the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the Assembly elections this year.
And did the prime minister forget all that was done to win an election in Assam and elsewhere. How much of harmony did the BJP leaders harp during the elections in Assam?
Kashmir’s woes continues unabated. Encounters between insurgents and security forces have become daily routine.
Reports from Kashmir says the alienation of the people is being exacerbated by the actions of the security forces. Handwara rape allegations added insult to the injury. No amount of brotherly feeling seems to be guiding the government in addressing the Kashmir issue, though the prime minister waxes eloquent on spirit of harmony and brotherhood.
In central India, the government sides with the corporates eyeing the mineral wealth, by constantly threatening the lives of people who have been living there for generations, making all the utterances of brotherhood and harmony a mockery.
Many of the issues elaborated above are inherited problems. But if prime minister who speaks about the values of harmony and brotherhood he could begin by earnestly promote these ideals. He can use this holy month to prevail upon his man Friday Amit Shah and other party colleagues to shed the politics of animosity towards other faiths.
He can start by advising them that eating habits can’t be dictated by majoritarian faith. If he does that, his Ramazan message would carry the touch of a statesman..