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Fishing for votes with a hard line

He answers his phone with a Vande Mataram instead of a Hello. He wants to build a “Hindu Nation” in India saying secularism is the other name of “impotence”.
By Avishek Dastidar, Moushumi Das Gupta & Atul Mathur | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 01, 2009 12:20 AM IST

He answers his phone with a Vande Mataram instead of a Hello. He wants to build a “Hindu Nation” in India saying secularism is the other name of “impotence”.

And he wants you to vote for him this election.

Meet Hargovind Arora, an Independent candidate from West Delhi, whose zeal to recreate the saffron wave of 20 years ago is second to none. “I am the only Independent candidate who has the Shiv Sena’s written support in a constituency that already has a BJP candidate,” he says proudly.

If the mainstream political parties strike you as “too politically correct”, then Arora and his ilk are for you. They are the hardliners. They are uncompromising in their ideology, not afraid to call a spade a spade. And they are in large numbers in the poll fray.

In Chandni Chowk, about half-a-dozen ultra-nationalist and extreme right wing parties have put their candidates in the fray. These parties include Rashtrawadi Sena, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, Jaibharat Party and Deshbhakt Party, among others.

Sitaram Sharma, a septuagenarian contesting on a Rashtrawadi Sena ticket is very clear about his poll plank — “development with Hindu culture.”

Indian culture means Hindu culture and our party’s agenda is to create awareness and spread our culture,” he says, adding, “We are against all western influences in our culture, like women drinking and going to pubs. Did we fight for our Independence for this?”

Ghanshyam Morwal, of Deshbhakt Party, on the other hand, wants to revive Swadeshi movement. “We are against all kind of foreign investment in the country, as this is leading to unemployment. I am telling people that our party will work towards reviving our local industries and cooperatives that have been closed after entry of foreign retail companies,” says Morwal.
The Muslims have their share of the ultra-right, too.

In Northeast Delhi, which has a sizeable Muslim presence, Molana Abussuami, president, Jamaat-e-Ulama-e-Hind, is an Independent contender.

“Muslims are always targeted and shown in a poor light. For their own vested interests, the political parties call Muslims illiterate. Our population is over 30 per cent in India. We are often labelled terrorists because of the skullcap that we wear and our beard,” he says, adding, “All these political parties came to power on Muslim votes but never gave the Muslims their due.”

For Mohammad Hasnain, national president, Qaumi Party of India, who is contesting from Northeast Delhi, safety of Muslims is a priority. “Muslims are often called a threat while in real terms they themselves are unsafe. We will guarantee their safety at any cost,” he says.

The hardliners seem ready for you. Question is, are you ready for them?

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