Oh! East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of Earth!
Penned by Rudyard Kipling in 1889, these oft-quoted lines remind us of two strong right-wing individuals in 2016: Amit Shah of the BJP in the East and Donald Trump of the Republican Party in the West. Both these leaders have, through their utterances, been causing shockwaves in the Muslim world. While Shah has tried to rake up the issue of the exodus of Hindus from Kairana, Trump’s latest gesticulations and non-stop angry speeches come close on the heels of the Orlando shooting.
After Hillary Clinton savaged Trump’s reckless response to Orlando shooting, here is what the fuming Republican presidential candidate said: “The current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk and to think and act clearly. If we don’t get tough, and if we don’t get smart, and fast, we are not going to have our country any more. There will be nothing, absolutely nothing left.” Trump had earlier called for “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.
Now see what’s happening in the East. Picking up the cue from his party president, Yogi Adityanath, Mahant of the Gorakhnath cult and BJP MP, says: “There were 68% Hindus in Kairana till 2001. But now their population has shrunk to just 8%. Is it not alarming enough?”
The rise of the right wing hawks apart, there is another similarity between the East and the West in the current context: both UP and US will go to the polls.
Little wonder then that both the BJP here and the Republicans there seem to be in a hurry to ensure that polarization takes place on communal lines sooner than later. Do you remember that in Assam, where the BJP swept to power for the first time in history, the saffron forces had triggered a massive agitation against Bangladeshi Muslims? Their game plan had clicked. And they succeeded in pushing the Congress out of reckoning.
Like it or not, more and still more fan-followers are seen to be joining the respective bandwagons of the right-wing forces by the day to the utter bewilderment of sober, saner centrist forces at both ends of the world.
In an editorial this week, the USA Today argued: “The day after the nation’s worst mass shooting, the slaughter of 49 people in an Orlando night club early Sunday by a Muslim American claiming solidarity with the Islamic State, Trump revived his repellant call for banning all foreign Muslims from entering United States. The supposedly temporary ban would last until the nation can ‘perfectly screen those people coming into our country’, which, given the imperfection in any human endeavor, would be approximately forever.”
Back home, the strongest attack on Amit Shah’s line of thinking came from Bahujan Samaj Party supremo, Mayawati: “The BJP is fuelling the Kairana issue as a well-thought strategy and conspiracy to instigate large-scale communal riots”, she said and praised the media for debunking BJP’s propaganda that Muslims were forcing Hindus to flee their homes in western UP.
But Hindu hardliners remained unperturbed even after the media exposed the “truth” in Kairana. In fact, they stepped up their activities. Can you believe what we all saw at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Tuesday last? Indeed, a group of Hindu Sena activists were seen celebrating Donald Trump’s birthday with a birthday cake, balloons and festoons. There was a big poster of Trump in which the Republican presidential candidate was shown as brandishing a gun! The zealots described Trump as a savior of humanity and messiah against Islamic terror.
The chief of the Hindu Sena, Vishnu Gupta, said: “Donald Trump is speaking the world’s mann ki baat against Islamic terror and we support it. He is our hero.” The group plans to organize similar events in future including a rally outside the US embassy and the JNU campus.
It is ironical that Rudyard Kipling, who worked as an assistant editor in The Pioneer newspaper from November 1887 to March 1889, had penned his famous ‘east is east and west is west’ ballad in Allahabad. It is the same Allahabad from where Amit Shah drew the nation’s attention towards Kairana.
Meanwhile, the pre-election scene in both UP and US appears to getting more and more astonishing. And don’t be surprised if murky waters are churned in the cesspool of politics.