Is the Muzffarnagar experiment at communal polarisation being tried out in Delhi too? The three-day long high intensity communal tension in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri area suggests so. The similarities between the incidents of Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas last year and those in Delhi are hard to ignore.
Some of those involved in the Delhi communal violence belonged mostly to the Valmiki community, a Dalit grouping, and Muslims. In Muzaffarnagar, the violence involved Kashyap, Valmiki and Jhimar groups besides Muslims. The violence in both cases, according to police sources, was perpetrated by outsiders. In western Uttar Pradesh, the immediate motive behind the spurt in communal incidents which claimed 62 lives on both sides besides leaving more than 50,000 displaced - was polarisation before the general elections. In Delhi, assembly elections, whenever it is called, may be the real target.
The Delhi communal violence renders itself to political interpretation as many eyewitnesses claim that the rioters had the support of local leaders. In the assembly elections late last year, the Dalit community in general and the Valmikis in particular had voted for the Aam Aadmi Party in large numbers. In fact, it’s the support of the Dalits that made the AAP a formidable force in the election. The former used to be a sturdy vote base of the Congress earlier.
After AAP quit the government in 49 days, this vote bank is disillusioned with the party. With the Congress no more in a position to reclaim it is confused over their political choice. The BJP has been trying for sometime to bring Dalits into the saffron fold elsewhere in the country. Communal polarisation has helped the party consolidate its position among the groups previously unfavourably disposed towards it. Unlike the middle class, which is fickle in character, the Dalits form a stable, long-term vote bank. The results from several assembly elections indicate that the party has managed to wean away a large chunk of Dalit voters to its fold.
In Delhi, it faces a crisis of confidence, particularly when it comes to the jhuggi-jhopdi votes. Accounting for more than half of the vote share here they can easily offset any advantage from upper and middle class votes. Before going for fresh elections, it has its task cut out: secure a good chunk of Dalit votes. Other political parties have started crying foul over the incidents in Trilokpuri –80 percent of its population are Dalits - as these could have far-reaching electoral consequences.
The AAP has already said that the BJP is trying to communalise votes in the resettlement colony through such incidents. The Congress and the BSP have made similar accusations too. The parties are apprehensive of the fact while the Muslims constitute only 15 percent of the population and thus, don’t weigh heavy in elections, a polarisation along religious lines may end up in favour of the BJP.
According to Raju, the local AAP legislator, BJP workers are instigating locals for a fresh round of violence immediately after one dies down. “The BJP is attempting to consolidate the Dalit vote here on the lines of UP.” Congress leader Harnam Singh was quoted by the media as saying that the violence began after a BJP leader visited the area and he was greeted by furious chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’.
According to a police officer, a mata ki chowki jagran (special worship offered during Navratri) was organised in front of a mosque at the Block 15-20- 27 junction of Trilokpuri on Diwali night which was objected by local Muslims. Heated arguments between them resulted in stone pelting and burning of a shop.
“Tension mounted once again on Friday night after former BJP MLA Sunil Kumar Vaidya reached the spot with his supporters and announced to build a temple there. I have not personally heard it from him but have got several complaints. This aggravated the tension in the area with members of both communities started pelting stones on each other and opening gun fire,” the officer, who did not want to be named, told Firstpost.
Meanwhile, AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal has tweeted out, saying the violence follows the pattern of polarisation in Uttar Pradesh.
The real reason behind the violent incidents is yet to be known, however, the political game over these have started in right earnest. Delhi polls may not be too far away.
Published Date: Oct 27, 2014 07:21 AM | Updated Date: Oct 27, 2014 07:24 AM