IOS Consultative Meet on Post-Election Scenario in Uttar Pradesh
April 13, 2017 at Institute Building, 162, Jogabai, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi
A consultative meet on “Post Election Scenario in Uttar Pradesh” was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies at its conference room on April 13, 2017. The participants in the meet were seized of the growing influence of Hindutva that was taking in its stride state after state. UP being the latest example where development agenda of the Samajwadi Party and the social engineering formula of the Bahujan Samaj Party failed to elicit support of the electorate which, if put together, would have secured more votes than the Bhartiya Janata Party got in percentage terms. But that would not be. Initiating the discussion, the Secretary General of the IOS, Prof. ZM Khan, said that the BJP government in UP was tightening its grip over all institutions of democracy. Secularism was its first casualty and the minorities as well as other weaker sections were being harassed. The government was trying to create ghettos for Muslims. There was no space for tolerance and respect for others. He said that the space occupied by the media, NGOs and other civil society groups was being narrowed by government control. “Sab ka Sath, Sab ka Vikas” had been reduced to a farce. He urged those who cherished values of secularism to come out in the open to counter the false propaganda of the RSS. This needed a lot of support from the people and intellectuals. Joining hands with like-minded people was imperative as the RSS had occupied a vast space with manpower, money and muscle power. Referring to efforts of the IOS to study the issues and come out with conclusions, he said that it had contributed to the understanding of the current scenario. The conclusions were alarming and called for a serious thinking and action, he added.
Election strategist Rizwan Ahmed explained that the tools, techniques and the methodology used in the recently-held elections would have to be understood at micro and macro-level in the context of the elections in Haryana and Jharkhand. The ruling party did not want opposition parties to contest elections. In order to mar their prospects in elections, the BJP resorted to internal and external sabotage. The party also knew the tactics of influencing election process. He said that the BJP first tried the formula in Gujarat where opposition parties were allowed to participate in the elections, but without contest. In UP, selective empowerment of OBCs was made to wean them away from the Samajwadi Party. Similarly, BSP was made to participate in the elections without contesting them. In the just concluded by-poll in western Delhi, confusion over common name fetched one Jarnail Singh 8,000 votes. The ruling party (BJP) used the name to confuse voters. He observed that elections should be viewed in a broader perspective. While the ideological support for neoliberalism was common to all parties, the element of jealousy and greed cost the two parties claiming to champion the cause of OBC and Dalits dearly. Desertions from the Congress to the BJP continued. But no senior leader of the BJP had so far left the party to join another party. This showed their commitment to the cadre. They seriously fought the war to win and were never found wanting in their strength, strategy and mobilising capacity. He said that a close study of their strength, methodology and organisational process was necessary to properly understand the party.
Chief Editor of Chauthi Duniya, Santosh Bhartiya, questioned if there was no co relationship between election and ideology. The issue of misgovernance was commonly used during elections to target the ruling party. While calling for the unity of likeminded people to defeat the BJP, he said that the so-called secular people were ready to die together but could not live together. In this connection, he especially referred to the schism between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in UP. Commenting on secularism, he said that it had become a much hated term today and those wedded to secularism faced the greatest risk from communalism. Muslims were badly divided among themselves as practioners of all the 36 sects (schools of thought) could not sit together, despite knowing full well that communalism affected them most. This had come out in the open that the political value of Indian Muslims was on the wane. This message had reached every nook and corner of the country. He advised Muslims to hold discussions at the intellectual level and do something which could be visible at the ground level. He said that the Muslims accounted for about 20 per cent of the total population of the country and it was high time they broke barriers between themselves. A dialogue process among the Muslims must be started forthwith, he pleaded.
The former senior editor, Daily Tribune, Shastri Ramachandran held that new fault lines had emerged in politics as the BJP had established itself as the party of North and the South. In South, he said, the party was maneuvering the DMK in Tamil Nadu to enter into a tacit understanding with it as the AIADMK was a house divided after the death of Jayalalitha. An issue like food security had been eclipsed by Digital India to create an impression that the latter was more important in the present context. What the national press was interested in highlighting was the vigilante groups’ entry into homes to see what the girls were doing. Focusing on the South, he said that in Karnataka, the role of the Congress was no different from the right-wing party. In Karnataka, the Congress was playing a soft Hindutva card, though it was highly divided there. He favoured engagement with the secular forces in Tamil Nadu to frustrate the attempts of the saffron party to strengthen its foothold as the people of the state by and large believed that the BJP would not enforce its will. He called for mobilisation of people on the pattern of the mass movement in 1977. Preparations for the fight involving people must begin on a war footing, he pointed out.
National convener, RTE Forum, Ambarish Rai observed that the fight could not be easily won as this was the question of life and death for the RSS and the BJP. But, for the secular people, this was nothing more than the fight to score victory in elections. The fight was between unequals as the BJP was fully backed by the RSS along with its affiliates, lakhs of Saraswati Shishu Mandirs spread throughout the country being among them. He said that the BJP’s meticulous planning paid rich dividends in UP where OBCs minus Yadavs, who were the main support base of the Samajwadi Party and Dalits minus Jatavs, were targeted to fill its kitty with votes. The Congress, he said finished a poor third due to its policies that had lost touch with the Nehruvian legacy. He said that there was near-total sell out of the country to corporate giants. There was some similarity with the United States of America where Donald Trump adopted the same strategy to come to power. However, there was some difference in the US where at least the civil society had been continuously registering its protest against Trump. There is nothing like that in this country, he said. India’s composite culture had been given a burial and secularism had stopped running in Indian veins. However, the Hindu Rashtra was forcefully running through veins. They firmly believed that the fight for nationalism had been won. The present dispensation took no notice of the suicides being committed by farmers in different parts of the country. Nor did it accept that the demonetisation of high value notes had adversely impacted the common man. They could go to any extent to fabricate falsehood as truth. Calling for the mega alliance of Dalits, OBCs, Muslims and conscious people among the upper castes to take on the forces that were out to tear apart India’s social fabric, he said that if sincerely fought, the war of secularism could be won in the next 10 years.
The former group editor of the Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu), Syed Faisal Ali, held that on his return from abroad, he found that it was not the same India which he had left a few years ago. Today’s conflict was not between Hindus and minorities, but this was a clash between ideologies. The discourse had now changed as it was being sought to be conveyed that it was not Mahatma Gandhi who freed the country from foreign yoke, but Nathuram Godse who should be credited with India’s independence. He said that it was every Indian’s responsibility to see to it that the Gandhian thought and secularism remained unsullied. Describing the present conflict as a tussle of perception between two ideologies, he noted that the media’s role had not been above board due to erosion in ethical values. Divergence of views over triple talaq was due to the conflict of perception. He suggested that a delegation of ulema be sent to famous Islamic seminaries like Al Azhar and others in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, to have a better understanding of various issues relating to the Shariah. He criticised the appeal issued by some Islamic clerics in favour of a political party during the UP assembly elections, insisting that this gave them much-needed fodder to polarise Hindu votes against Muslims. He expressed concern over attempts to politicise armed forces.
Delhi unit chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittihadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Irfanullah Khan, said that secularism was a casualty as it was being bracketed with Muslims, who were being targeted in the name of nationalism. Everyone who spoke against them would be dubbed as anti-national. At a time when almost all forces of social justice had gone over to the BJP, Muslims had to decide where to seek a space. Laying emphasis on the need for the emergence of a strong Muslim leadership, he said that what held out optimism was that 60 percent of Indians were still against the BJP. This offered an alternative space, he added.
Arun Manjhi, Advocate and Chairman, Democratic People’s Lawyers Association, remarked that the RSS aimed at Hinduisation of India so that the upper castes could rule over the proposed Hindu Rashtra. India had become an undeclared Hindu Rashtra in 1947 when Muslims were alienated from politics. He accused the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party of demolishing the forces of social justice in UP. Thirty six percent votes of the Mandalised population had shifted to the BJP. He said that Indian politics had become highly communalised. Against the backdrop of the popular slogans of capitalism in UP, the concept of the exploited sections needed to form the agenda for work at the grassroots level, he added.
Activist Devendra Bharti commented that the discourse today was “Modi in 2019 and Yogi in 2024”. That meant that the ground was being prepared to ensure victory of Narendra Modi as prime minister in 2019 and Adityanath Yogi as prime minister in 2024. He said that wrong policies pursued by the Centre should be highlighted to make the people aware of them. These included problems faced by farmers and delayed election reforms. Referring to the money being spent by candidates, he said that while one candidate spent Rs. 24 crore on election the other could not afford to spend even Rs. 1 crore. He pleaded for establishing a network to launch a movement over issues that concerned common people. This required a dialogue, he said. He emphasised that VD Savarkar’s book, which spoke of the creation of Pakistan for the first time and was accepted by MS Golwalkar, be publicised through the media, so that the people could know of the real intentions of the RSS.
Special Correspondent of the India Today, Piyush Babele opined that those who voted for the BJP in 2014 voted for the party in the UP elections in 2017. He said that only one man was roaring as there was none to confront him. The euphoria created by elections was there which was symptomatic of the phase that followed elections. A systematic plan was being executed to raise the vote percentage to 51 in the next parliamentary elections in 2019. Media was used to make Dr. Manmohan Singh a culprit by holding him responsible for the current economic mess. That was the reason why the corruption during the UPA regime was blown out of proportion. He said that the RSS attracted average youth into its cadre. What had prompted them to take the centre-stage was the political space left by the Congress due to its detachment from the villages. However, some credibility of the Congress was still intact as it fought for India’s freedom. Since Indian knew everything, there was hardly any need to explain. What was needed first was to make common people understand. Under the circumstances, Hindus had a greater responsibility than Muslims. There was darkness all around and this could be driven away by lighting small lamps, he added.
IOS Chairman, Dr. M. Manzoor Alam, expressed the confidence that the views expressed at the meet would help evolve a strategy for the future. Analysing the results of UP elections, he said that the Samajwadi Party and Congress formed an alliance but failed to convince the people. On the other hand, Narendra Modi’s remark on shamshan (cremation ground) and qabristan (graveyard) influenced voters. Other parties in the fray had no issues to lure voters. He maintained that RSS workers visited each and every home to spread false propaganda. Video clips of various incidents were shown to villagers in order to provoke them to react in anger. This was one-sided as the people could not verify such incidents. He observed that if the people were not engaged with the ideology, RSS might become a mere ivory tower in the course of time. In a democracy, issues were important, but they must address the people. Calling for taking the issues to the ground level, he said that social mobilisation had become imperative under the circumstances. There was a big challenge before citizens and younger generation to save the Constitution. He warned that attempts might be made to denude the Constitution of its Preamble, which was its very soul. Referring to the issue of talaq, which was being played up by the BJP, he said that the cases of talaq among Muslims stood at a bare 0.2 percent. He deplored that Modi could manage social engineering in UP, which other parties badly failed to do.
Presiding over the meet, Prof. ZM Khan opined that an atmosphere was being created to convince the people of the need for a Hindu Rashtra. The political culture was being vitiated to suit the interests of a philosophy on which the political system rested. They had the necessary structure in the form of workers, financial resources and muscle power to attain their goal of a Hindu Rashtra. Unless political power was attained, the Constitution could not itself implement the provisions for the benefit of a section. He said that bureaucracy had become a tool at the hands of the ruling dispensation. He termed the policy practised by the ruling party as indirect social apartheid, and stated that it affected not only Muslims, but also other marginalised and depressed sections. He forcefully said that India was not basically a communal society as its culture, the Constitution and its values favoured secularism. He felt the need to work at social and community level. All those who were deprived, exploited and discriminated against must unite, he concluded.
Earlier, a verse from the Quran was recited by Hafiz Athar Husain Nadwi and the proceedings were conducted by the in-charge of Arabic Section, IOS, Dr. Nakhat Husain Nadwi.