It’s crunch time for Indian politics
Indian affairs are at a turning point. After the Karnataka decision hit the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the solar plexus, it was clear that it would happen. The BJP’s loss in the important southern state has made it possible for Prime Minister Modi to lose in the general elections next May, even though he seemed unbeatable before. So, there will be temper fits. There will be actions that upset the community as a whole.
Above all, there could be desperate measures like those named by Mr. Modi’s former handpicked governor of Jammu and Kashmir. This could be a real or made-up event that could give right-wing extremism its best chance of success. As they did in Karnataka, the opposition needs to stand up to the attacks and put the core interests of the people against the power-hungry rulers.
There are things that need to be told to the people and things that need to be done right away. The Karnataka model was about helping the poor with their finances and giving the beaten-down underclass, especially religious minorities and Dalits, clear political backing.
Aside from the Adani situation, the opposition needs to deal with the 35-day-old protest by women wrestlers in Delhi right away. The BJP is not giving in to their request that the man in charge of the wrestling league be fired because they say he sexually abused them. If the charges were against someone else, that person would be in jail, but this person is a current BJP MP from a politically important part of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Allama Iqbal could be taken out of a political science course as one of the BJP’s ways to get the opposition to participate in communal shadowboxing.
To top it all off, cops took the women wrestlers away on Saturday night. The act was similar to how pro-Hindutva murderers and rapists were set free on India’s Independence Day last year. If the resistance can’t figure out what to do about women wrestlers, it could lose face before the race even starts.
Allama Iqbal could be kicked out of a political science class at Delhi University as part of the BJP’s plan to fight the opposition in a “communal shadowboxing” match. It’s a cynical move for the BJP to use provocations that have worked well for them to hurt Indian academics. A few years ago, Hindutva’s thugs broke into a history class at Delhi University and tore up an important book by A.K. Ramanujan. Three Hundred Ramayanas, which was attacked, shows the rich patchwork of oral and written stories about Lord Ram that stretch across India and beyond.
Wendy Doniger’s study on the Hindus, which was praised on the best campuses in the world, was forced to be thrown away. Any change in direction here can only come from the government, which is something the opposition has to want, and not from a public fight, which the BJP would win.
But think about what happened to a Muslim school teacher in BJP-controlled Uttar Pradesh who was fired for teaching a touching children’s song by Iqbal: “Lab pe aati hai dua ban ke tamanna meri, zindagi shamma ki surat ho khudaya meri.” (I hope that my life will be the candle that lights the world, even if that means I will lose myself.)
The student branch of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is happy about Iqbal’s possible removal. They falsely accuse him of being the one who wanted India to be split up by religion. The RSS and its offshoots hate Urdu with all their hearts, and they haven’t shown any proof to the contrary. As Imam-i-Hind, Iqbal wrote a long poem about Lord Ram. He is hard to forget. His love song for Hindustan is still a well-rehearsed piece that Indian military bands play, and it makes millions of people all over the country feel something.
Also, Faiz Ahmed Faiz was seen as a close friend of India on both sides of the line. The poet’s children in Lahore used to visit India often, but not under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. One of the daughters was told to go home when she arrived in Delhi for a literary event she was called to. Whoever reminds the current leaders of their bigotry, which is even worse when compared to the religious persecution that Pakistanis are facing on their own land, would be called anti-Hindu or anti-national.
An elegant staff has been found, and it is said that it was used as a sceptre when power was passed from Mountbatten to Nehru. This will keep the pot boiling. Madhavan Palat, a well-known historian, says that the claim is not true because there is neither photographic proof nor an official account of the supposed event. The sceptre, which may have been a gift to Nehru from a Hindu seer, is probably something that was made to decorate the idea of Hindu rashtra. Critics say that Mr Modi will use the opening of the new parliament building on May 28 to declare himself a ruler. This is because he has undermined parliamentary democracy.
The BJP rarely does something without taking politics into account. The first session of parliament will start on Sunday, which is also the birthday of V.D. Savarkar, the founder of Hindutva. Savarkar was a suspect in the plan to kill Gandhiji, but he was let off because of a technicality. Even though most of the opposition parties skipped the event on Sunday, efforts were made to make things photogenic. They told Mr. Modi to call President Draupadi Murmu to be the head of state at the inauguration. This was a tough request for someone who didn’t forget to put his smiling face on Covid certificates.
One scary thing about the Iqbal issue is that it could have been planned to hide the fact that Savarkar supported the two-nation theory years before the Muslim League did. Even though his Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League worked together in the interim governments before independence, that doesn’t matter. One doubts, though, that Savarkar or Iqbal can be election problems today, especially given how complicated India is and how hard it is for parties to deal with. For example, the Congress criticises Savarkar, but in Maharashtra it is in bed with people who like him. So, the job at hand is as complicated as the country itself, and it may take more tact than is easy to find.