Divide and rule is the mantra as polls near
It is certain that in the following days, not only flowers but also thorns will appear in the political sphere.
A perturbing news came from Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi recently. Students of the Thakur village public school there enacted a play, Jo Google kar sakta hai, wah tera bhagwan nahin kar sakta (What Google can do, your God cannot), whose video went viral on the internet. Parents of some students of the school staged demonstrations before the institution terming the play as an affront to Sanatana Dharma. They said the teacher who wrote the play belonged to a different faith and had deliberately insulted their religion. The school administration terminated the teacher’s services.
This is what happens when politics begins to exploit society.
This chaos was sparked recently in Tamil Nadu at an event where Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of chief minister MK Stalin and a minister of the state cabinet, uttered such remarks for Sanatana Dharma. His words caused an uproar in North India. But Udhayanidhi said nothing new. In the 1950s and 1960s, the founder of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), CN Annadurai, led a vigorous anti-Brahmin and anti-Brahminism movement. His remarks touched the hearts of the oppressed and backward sections of society.
His efforts led to the formation of the first non-Congress government in Tamil Nadu in 1967. Since then, the country’s oldest party has been unable to reclaim power in the state. It is another matter that Congress and the DMK have been political allies for many years.
This is why the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) IT cell seized the opportunity on social media. The embers of the fire that Annadurai stoked in Tamil Nadu half a century ago are singeing northern and western India even today. If Annadurai’s views appeal to the majority of voters in Tamil Nadu, the same can play a significant role in uniting the majority on this side of the Vindhyas. This is a win-win for the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
That is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi raised the issue at public rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The BJP has also decided to make this an electoral issue. The inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya may give an impetus to this endeavour. In fact, NDA, unified behind the PM, is fully aware that if Hindus prioritise religious identity over caste, the parties practising politics in the name of backward and extremely backward people will suffer massive losses. The majority of parties in the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) coalition have made decisions based on these equations. Udhayanidhi, former Union minister A Raja, and others like them have consciously or otherwise provided the BJP with a potent political weapon.
An in-depth examination of the PM’s long and successful political career reveals that he is skilled at creating a positive electoral mix of religion, society, and welfare programmes. He recently backed the Uniform Civil Code at a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh. This brought a fresh attitude and style to the RSS and BJP’s long-standing demand.
Similarly, by appealing for “one country, one election”, the PM hopes to demonstrate that the massive expense of numerous forms of elections may be avoided. The electoral code of conduct also stopped all development activity for several weeks. If elections are held simultaneously, progress work would be able to continue uninterrupted.
INDIA will have to respond logically to these calculated political moves, but till now, besides voicing political resistance, they have not put forward any concrete action plan. Are INDIA leaders waiting for the right moment? Such experienced political leaders can surely not fail to see the significance of the political manoeuvring of NDA.
Nonetheless, INDIA has decided to boycott select TV anchors or journalists. The ruling party refers to the move as a new chapter in the mentality of those who once declared the Emergency, while the leaders of INDIA rebut this by pointing to the boycott of some TV channels by the BJP, which has gone on for years now. Although all political parties have boycotted some anchors or networks, at one time or another, this is the first time that an entire list has been released jointly. The move will nurture journalists and intellectuals who are not afraid to display their political beliefs freely. Is this beneficial or harmful to journalism? Journalists will have to solve this problem on their own.
Whether or not our journalistic community comes to a conclusion, it is certain that in the following days, not only flowers but also thorns will appear in the political sphere.
Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. The views expressed are personal