On May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi took oath as the 15th Prime Minister of India. Ashish Nandi who interviewed Modi in the 1990s, wrote that “I still remember the cool, measured tone in which he elaborated a theory of cosmic conspiracy against India that painted every Muslim as a suspected traitor and a potential terrorist”. So the man known to the Muslims of India as a terror, is now heading the secular democratic India. How does it bode for the Muslims of India? During election campaign Rahul Gandhi remarked that the BJP only wants to divide people, make people fight each other. Is there a reason for the Muslims to feel unsafe? Because, he is the same Modi who as the Chief Minister of Gujrat abetted communal riots (2002), in which thousands of Muslims were butchered. The inhumane killings of Muslims were condemned worldwide; the US and the UK even barred Modi from travelling to their countries. But Modi never apologized for the Gujrat massacre.
The Hindu supremacy was apparent during the elections. There is no denying the fact that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Hindutva ideology and anti-Muslim tilt proved useful for the winning party. During the election campaign, “Modi called Kerala – with substantial Muslim population – a nursery of terrorism, threatened illegal Bengali Muslim migrants with deportation and cornered the Congress for encouraging beef exports to benefit Muslims”. The BJP led Lok Sabha has its lowest ever Muslim representation just four percent of MPs, way below the Muslims 13.4 percent population share. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, “BJP won 71 out of 80 seats. Muslims form almost a fifth of the population of the state but there is not a single Muslim MP from Uttar Pradesh”. Besides, three newly elected lawmakers from the state are the one’s, who incited anti-Muslim riots in Muzaffarnagar last year. 60 people were killed during the riots.
Another new trend seen in the Indian elections is that a man from a humble background has made it to the Prime Ministership of the country. Modi, son of a Teli Ghanchi (oil presser) community, who as a child helped his father in selling tea, has outshined Rahul Gandhi, the great grandson of Nehru family. This shows a person’s influential background, being a son or grandson of imminent political family is no more a criteria to vote for. This is a positive trend in a way because in countries like India (and Pakistan also), politics have been governed by some prominent families.Modi’s ascendancy from a tea seller to Prime Minister’s office is being idealized by a common man of India.A common man in India when he sees that a chaiwala could rise to be a Prime Minister, it gives him hope that to be a Prime Minister one does not need to be foreign qualified or from an influential background.Another factor, which favoured BJP’s win, is the party’s developmental work in Gujrat.
India of today represents corporate interests. During the election campaign, Modi and his party workers highlighted the economic progress of Gujrat with a promise to extend the ‘Gujrat miracle’ to the rest of the country. This attracted the business community as well as the middle-class Hindus.What one can deduce from the election result is that the Indian people have voted for a party with Hinduvta ideology. Seen internationally, since the start of War on Terror (WoT), an environment of extremist ideologies have emerged. State and non-state actors have formed groupings, alliances against one another, based on their ideological orientation. Religion has turned out to be a determining factor in this regard. This international trend has also impacted the domestic politics of states. In the Indian elections, BJP’s Hindu ideology outmatched the Secular principles of Congress. Rahul Gandhi’s cultured outlook and moderate thinking could not withstand, Modi’s rhetoric and extremist views. Similarly, another international trend in today’s world is geo-economics. For a common man in India, having a good living is the prime concern. “Modi has pledged to work for all 1.25 billion of his fellow Indians in his first speech after winning the elections”.
On the regional front, especially India’s relations with Pakistan, what the likely picture could be? During the election campaign “Modi supporters announced that anyone who opposed the BJP, should leave for Pakistan”. In the backdrop of BJP’s Hinduvta ideology, Modi’s affiliation withright-wing Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)and anti-Muslim tilt, likely scenario could be strained Indo-Pakistan relations with the dialogue process at the backburner? An increase in Indian anti-Pakistan activities, particularly its abetting of sub-nationalist groups in Balochistan and worst scenario could be a proxy war between the two South Asian neighbours in Afghanistan.On the contrary, if we visualize the India-Pakistan relations from the economic angle, as economic prosperity was also one of BJP’s election pledge, a more brighter picture could emerge. In pursuance of the economic objectives, Indianeconomy requires energy and regional pipelines – IPI and TAPI could serve this purpose. The materialization of regional pipelines would enhance regional integration and cooperation, which in turn would enhance Pakistan’s significance, thus, relations between two neighbours would improve.
Pakistan Observer-Jun 10, 2014
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the author and do not reflect the policy of IPRI.