ISLAMABAD: Terming persistent Hindutva-led anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric a catalyst for Modi’s electoral win, the speakers at a roundtable session expressed grave concerns over growing isolation of minorities in India, fearing that if not addressed, their insecurity could result in a serious social crisis in the country.
They were speaking at the roundtable session ‘The Outcome of Indian Elections: Implications for the Region’, which was organised by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad on May 24. The session was addressed by Dr Mujeeb Afzal, assistant professor. School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University, Sultan M Hali, senior analyst and the author of Rising Hindutva, Khalid Rahman, director general, IPS, Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf, senior research fellow at IPS, Dr Syed Mohammed Anwer, former deputy attorney general of Pakistan, member Islamic Nazriati Council and member IPS National Academic Council, Farzana Yaqoob, former minister, Social Welfare and Women Development, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K), Asghar Ali Shaad, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Jawwad Falak, research officer, Maritime Study Forum and Waqarun Nisa, research officer at IPS.
Dr Afzal, in opening speech, opined that it was Mudi’s Hindutva narrative that has clicked for the successive time. He replaced Indian nationalism with Hindutva nationalism, projected it as an identity of his larger than life brand, created a wave with it as a majoritarian underdog, and cashed it by attaining a sweeping victory.
He was however concerned over the overwhelming majority obtained by BJP, stating that while it succeeded in unifying the Hindu vote, it is also a sign of isolation of country’s minorities, particularly Muslims, the growing feeling of insecurity in which could lead to a social mess.
Hali was of the view that Modi started replacing Indian secularism with Hindutva ideology since the start of his first tenure and kept working on the agenda throughout. He revived old Hindi terms in the language, replaced Muslim names of places and made things difficult for the Muslims of the country. Though the economic and social conditions of India deteriorated in his tenure, the supporters of Hindutva still backed his ideology and kept targeting minorities across the country.
He said that the increasing infiltration of Hindutva ideology was even visible in Indian armed forces and other government institutions, much important personnel of which have been directly or indirectly associated with RSS in the past.
Altaf looked at BJP’s win in a broader frame, terming it the rise of right-far politics in India through which a particular group of hardliners have found a platform to channel their emotions. He said that though the economic and social conditions of India deteriorated considerably in his first tenure, Modi played with the sentiments of people successfully by building his narrative around the issues of Balakot, Kashmir and Ghar Wapsi program.
Syed M Anwar stated that divided into classes, it was difficult to engage various Hindu casts unanimously. It was however done by projecting Muslims as a class even lower than the lowest Hindu cast, in turn not alleviating them to an improved level but attempting to give them something even insignificant to compare from.
Yaqoob highlighted at the significance of voter’s psychology and the differences between electoral and administrative politics, maintaining that the electoral politics is always jingoistic and is dominated by rhetorical tactics of appeasing the voters. She added that Muslims were never comfortable citizens of Indian society but the now under Modi’s leadership, they are being openly marginalised.
Shad stressed understanding difference nuances prevalent in Indian domestic politics, highlighting the trends of Pakistan bashing has always been used as a tool in India for achieving the political gains.
Falak pointed that the right wing Hindutva politics had now deeply penetrated in the Indian society. He said that the Indian media, their big corporations and even Indian state institutions have now become highly political. Such trends indicate the establishment of a dangerous scenario not only for India but for the whole region.