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Why the communal turn to politics should be avoided at all cost

November 14, 2013 10:29 IST

The way communal politics has become the only way to decide political discourse is unfortunate and a bad sign for the future of democracy, says Syed Hassan Kazim.

As the 2014 general elections near, Indian politics has started to take unexpected turns. The elections are expected to be a game-changer that will decide who will rule the roost in the coming decade. Will it be the Grand Old Party, Congress, or the communally-charged Bharatiya Janata Party?

Recent events in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar prove that a stage is being set to bring the country back to the post-Babri Masjid demolition era, when cities were aflame and friends had turned foes.

The communal riots in Muzaffarnagar were planned so that people and political parties with vested interests could gain the maximum mileage out of it. It looked like a well-crafted experiment carried out to test the country’s communal harmony.

People were killed and women were raped, but the political establishment from Gandhinagar to New Delhi to Lucknow only tried to exploit the agony of the victims.

While Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi talked about intelligence input, that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence was trying to woo victims of the communal riots, his adversary Narendra Modi, the BJP’s PM candidate, did not mince words condemning the Muzaffarnagar riots.

Modi feared being questioned about his own administration’s callousness 12 years ago when for at least three days Ahmedabad and many other cities in Gujarat were handed over to armed gangs to kill, maim and gang-rape Muslims to avenge the condemnable Godhra train carnage.

No matter how moderate or secular he tries to prove himself, his insensitivity toward the communal carnage of 2002 will remain.

In a campaign to get the votes of Muslims -- a majority of who are not going to accept the Gujarat CM as the country’s PM -- the BJP’s machinery including the American PR firm Apco Worldwide, is using different tactics to woo the country’s largest minority.

Modi’s comments of wanting to be prime minister to both Hindus and Muslims is enough to show his desperation to put his hand into the Muslim vote bank.

While the BJP has a vocal PM candidate with a weak historical sense, the Congress seems to have a person at the helm who is being advised not to speak. Whenever Rahul Gandhi opens his mouth he puts his own party into trouble. He thinks elections can be won only by talking about the ‘sacrifices’ made by his late grandmother and father for the country.

Modi’s politically and historically incorrect speech at the rally in Patna and its point-by-point rebuttal by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at Rajgir had the BJP dumbfounded. To undo the damage, Modi had to visit Patna again to meet the victims of the blasts, which rocked the state capital during his visit. 

But his second visit to Patna raised questions the BJP spokespersons are finding hard to answer. Why was their PM candidate showing his large-heartedness after the Patna blast but chose not to visit places in his own Gujarat like Gulbarg Society, Naroda Patiya or citizen colony? Was it not his duty to wipe the tears of the people of his own state who have been longing for justice since last 12 years?

Was it not his duty to show remorse for the carnage that occurred because of his government’s ‘intentional’ failure to protect the people of his state? These questions are not new but are being asked since last 12 years.

The way communal politics has become the only way to decide the political discourse of the country is unfortunate and not a good sign for the future of democracy.

Just like post-Godhra events, the BJP’s Bihar unit carried the ashes of the blast victims to different parts of the state to protest against the Patna blasts. Reconnect this with the post-Godhra events, when members and groups of BJP and Sangh Parivar took the dead bodies of the victims to different parts of the state -- which acted as a trigger for the riots which Modi justified by citing Newton’s third law.

When the country once again faces danger of communal riots, just because political parties and personalities are in a hectic race to reach 7 Race Course Road, the ordinary citizen can only hope and pray that they are not forced to witness 1992 and 2002 all over again.

Image: Gujarat CM Narendra Modi with family members of Patna blast victims

Photograph Courtesy: http://www.narendramodi.in/

Syed Hassan Kazim in New Delhi