UP: Opposition absent amid Yogi's aggressive Hindutva

UP: Opposition absent amid Yogi's aggressive Hindutva

Instead of busting Adityanath's Hindutva falsehoods, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati are busy burnishing their Hindu credentials

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Credit: PTI Photo

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has already set the tone for a more communally charged Assembly polls five months from now than Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "kabristans" getting priority over "shamshaans" speech in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections.

In his speech at a rally in Kushinagar last week, the UP CM patted his back for providing "free rations" to the poor. But he insinuated that before 2017, people who utter "Abba Jaan" were swallowing all the ration.

Sure enough, it could not have been a more direct way of accusing Muslims of eating up rations meant for the poor before he became chief minister in 2017. The message was loud and clear - the forthcoming polls would be fought on Hindu-Muslim lines, and all other issues would remain on the fringe.

Interestingly, both Adityanath and other leading lights of the BJP go about insisting that "development" alone was going to be their poll plank. They also assert their commitment to the PM's tenet of "sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas, and appeasement of none."

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However, actions of the party leadership and unabated targeting of Muslims by lumpen elements in frontal Hindu organisations, like Bajrang Dal and Hindu Sena, speaks volumes of the real intent of the saffron brigade. That Hindu polarisation is at the root of the party's campaign, and it is evident that the party leadership is ready to go to any extent to achieve that goal.

From the time Adityanath took over as the chief minister, he has taken several steps aimed at the polarisation of Hindus. It started with changing names of certain UP towns, and Allahabad became Prayagraj, Faizabad became Ayodhya, and Mughal Serai was renamed Deen Dayal Upadhaya Nagar.

Now, the BJP ranks demanding renaming Aligarh as Harigarh, Sultanpur as Kush Bhavanpur, Firozabad as Chandra Nagar and Mainpuri as Mayan Nagar. Agra, too, may get a new name of Agravan, while Muzaffarnagar may get renamed Lakshmi Nagar. 

Earlier, as an MP from Gorakhpur, Adityanath succeeded in renaming local markets and localities. Thus, Urdu Bazar became Hindi Bazar, Humayunpur became Hanuman Nagar, Miya Bazar was renamed Maya Bazar, to name a few. 

When the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) agitation was going on in 2019, most of the protestors arrested, fined and punished happened to be people belonging to the minority community. Their names with pictures and heavy fines levied on each was displayed on hoardings at various crossroads in the state capital. No one knows what could have been their fate if it were not for the courts that came to their rescue. 

But without a doubt, Adityanath has dealt with criminals with an iron hand; some gunned down in police encounters, others jailed. There cannot be either be denying that a relatively large number of the notorious ones hailed from the minority community. On the other hand, several equally dreaded criminals and outlaws from other communities have gone scot-free. All such measures have paid rich political dividends to the saffron-clad chief minister.

Meanwhile, no opposition party has cared to take on Adityanath on his aggressive Hindutva ride. Instead, most opposition leaders have begun to play their own "soft-Hindutva". Both Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati have got down to proving their respective Hindu credentials. Neither seems in the mood to take the bull by its horns. Instead, they appear to be falling into the trap the BJP has laid. Who does not know that it is not easy to defeat the BJP on the Hindutva turf, which it has skillfully nurtured over the decades.

Perhaps the only opposition leader who did not seem to be bitten by the Hindutva bug so far was Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi. But her frequent zooming in and out of the state takes away from whatever little impact she makes. The ruling dispensation has already labelled her a "political tourist", and there was precious little that she was doing to obliterate that image the saffron brigade had cast about her.

No one knows why the SP, seen as the salient opposition outfit, has avoided taking on the ruling dispensation for its falsehoods on issues like "love-jihad", population growth, CAA, or even triple talaq, systematically directed against the minority community.

Now the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) focus is likely to remain on the "Abba Jaan" line, taken up by Adityanath, who keeps springing up something or the other to keep the communal embers simmering.

It is learnt that the BJP and RSS cadres down the line have been told to spread this word down to the grassroots level. Perhaps the BJP leadership is hopeful that aggressive Hindutva would eventually draw a curtain on real issues, like price-rise, increasing unemployment, the plight of migratory labour returning to their homes due to corona and above all, the mismanagement of Covid-19 in UP. 

After all, people are angry as they lost their kin due to a shortage of oxygen or absence of treatment. Many were unable to perform the last rites of their dear ones due to lack of funds or the long queues at cremation grounds. Many others were compelled to immerse dead bodies in the Ganga or other rivers, and also those who had to hastily abandon bodies on river banks covering them with whatever little sand they could dig out with their hands.  

Already, the BJP's top leadership was leaving no stone unturned to bombard its propaganda that no one died of a shortage of oxygen. The PM announced that no one died of oxygen shortage and praised Adityanath for "unprecedented and unparalleled" corona management in UP. There could not have been a better certificate than this for Adityanath, who went on to issue deterrent threats, "anyone who says that there were deaths due to oxygen shortage should be booked under NSA." 

The BJP is set to launch a blitzkrieg that the pain and plight of the common people get drowned in the din proclaiming, "All is well". The political bosses seem to be hell-bent on impressing all and sundry that the minority community was at the root of all prevailing ills. And that is where the "Abba Jaan" narrative is likely to come in handy for the saffron party whose star leader and CM Adityanath have already predicted his return to power with a bang.

(The writer is a journalist based in Lucknow)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author's own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.