How will minorities fare under Modi 2.0? - GulfToday

How will minorities fare under Modi 2.0?

BRP Bhaskar

@brpbhaskar

Indian journalist with over 50 years of newspaper, news agency and television experience.

Indian journalist with over 50 years of newspaper, news agency and television experience.

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

As preparations are afoot for the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second administration on Thursday, one question to which observers are looking for an answer is whether it will be different from the first one.

Speaking at the first meeting of the newly elected Lok Sabha members of his Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi sought to impress upon them the need to earn the trust of the minorities.

He enlarged his first-term slogan “Everyone’s support, Everyone’s development” by adding “Everyone’s trust” to it. This appeared to be a positive response to widespread criticism of the violence against minorities reported during his first term.

In March, UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in her annual report, had voiced concern over “increasing harassment and targeting of minorities, in particular Muslims, and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, such as Dalits.”

A month earlier, the New York-based Human Rights Watch had said in a report that between May 2015 and December 2018 at least 44 people were killed, 36 of them Muslims, in 12 Indian states and about 280 people injured in more than 100 incidents in 20 states.

Most acts of violence followed allegations of cow slaughter and were attributed to shadowy groups inspired by the Hindutva ideology. They occurred in a climate of bigotry engendered by hate speeches by political leaders.

Last year the NDTV channel, after scanning tweets and statements by political leaders, had reported a 490 per cent increase in VIP hate speeches after Modi became the Prime Minister.

As against 21 hate speeches by as many politicians during the five years of the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, there were 124 hate speeches by 44 politicians in Modi’s first four years, it said.

While Congressmen accounted for only 14 per cent of the UPA 2 hate speeches, BJP leaders accounted for 90 per cent of the Modi-era hate speeches.

Modi spoke of the need to win the trust of the minorities not in the context of the fear created by the violence against them but in the context of the BJP’s long-standing criticism of appeasement of Muslims by other parties, especially the Congress.

Far from acknowledging that Muslims live in fear, he said there was an “illusion of fear” instilled by certain parties who saw them as a vote bank.  “We have to breach this illusion of fear and insecurity,” he added.

Neither the BJP nor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the fountainhead of the its Hindutva ideology,  condemned the violence against the Muslims and the Dalits at any time or take any steps to restrain the violent elements.

In almost all cases of violence against minorities, the police attempted to pin the blame on the victims and protect the assailants.  Even as Modi was talking of winning the trust of Muslims, fresh acts of violence against Muslims were reported from Seoni in Madhya Pradesh and Bhaderwah in Jammu and Kashmir.

Madhya Pradesh is under Congress rule but the BJP swept the Lok Sabha polls there. Jammu and Kashmir is currently under President’s rule.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, termed Modi’s talk of winning the confidence of Muslms hypocritical. He drew pointed attention to the total absence of Muslims among the BJP’s Lok Sabha members.

The BJP had fielded six Muslim candidates, three in Jammu and Kashmir, two in West Bengal and one in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. All of them lost.

The Muslim minority can derive some comfort from the latest election results inasmuch as the community’s representation in the Lok Sabha has gone up from 23 to 27. Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have sent six each, J and K and Kerala three each, Bihar and Assam two each and Punjab, Mahatashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Lakshadweep one each.

The BJP can derive comfort from the fact that despite the violence against the minorities and the civil society’s criticism of it, the party has been able to win some support from the community, as evidenced by the determination of a Muslim woman of UP to name her newborn son after the Prime Minister.

According to media reports, when Mainaz Begum of Gonda, an admirer of Modi, said she wanted the child to be named Narendra Damodardas Modi, her in-laws tried to dissuade her. However, she stood by her decision and won the day when her husband, who works in the UAE, endorsed her choice.

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