Head-on | How Muslims are used as cannon fodder by power obsessed politicians
Recent incidents of communal violence in Khargone and Jahangirpuri were carefully orchestrated
The objective is political power. Since losing power in 2014, the Congress and its self-proclaimed secular allies in the UPA have used Muslims as cannon fodder. The politicians don’t care about Muslim welfare. If they did, Muslims wouldn’t be the country’s most impoverished community after over 55 years of Congress governments.
In Jahangirpuri, it was again Muslims who ended up suffering in the service of their masters. For over 70 years, those masters gave them no education. They remained food delivery boys and car mechanics. No startups. No empowerment. And yet they trooped out obediently every five years to vote for the parties that gave them nothing but instilled in them a fear of the “other”.
Even today, as communal tensions peak, Muslims — both educated and impoverished — don’t realise how they have been tricked for seven decades into a life of backwardness.
Their masters couldn’t care less. Political power is what they want to regain. Muslims are expendable fodder. India, as a nation, is collateral damage.
To retake power, the Congress ecosystem began plotting right from May 2014 to weaponise communalism and Naxalism to foment civil unrest. The cold-blooded logic: Communal riots would inevitably follow, tarnishing the BJP’s image and eroding its credibility.
But the real key to evict the BJP from power lay in damaging India’s global reputation. India must be portrayed as an unsuccessful country. To bring Modi down, India must be brought down.
Academics and journalists were commandeered. Their job was to amplify the message: The BJP is unfit to govern; India’s social fabric was torn. Media op-eds relayed the message using terms, as The Indian Express columnist Pratap Bhanu Mehta did, like “vile prejudice” — not realising it more accurately reflected his views.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led the attack from the front in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election. His chowkidar chor hai taunt was meant to damage Modi sufficiently to give the Congress-led UPA a fighting chance to form a minority government in 2019 with support from regional parties.
The Congress’ in-house data analytics team told Gandhi with confidence bred on the campuses of American Ivy League universities that the UPA would win 170-190 seats in 2019 and the BJP could be kept down to 150 seats. A repeat of 2004 when the Congress stitched together a government with just 145 seats against the BJP’s 138 seats was, the party analytics team said, plausible. It was “game on”.
It wasn’t. To the Congress’ shock, the BJP won 303 seats in May 2019. Its own tally crawled from 44 seats in 2014 to 52. The data analysts who had briefed Gandhi on the likelihood of the Congress winning 170-190 seats in 2019, fell silent, emerging only later to write hand-wringing op-eds in newspapers.
But make no mistake. The 2019 Lok Sabha defeat further enraged the Congress and its allies. The plotting resumed.
The party had by now realised that personal attacks targeting Modi on, for example, corruption in the Rafale deal were backfiring. The COVID-19 pandemic came as a Godsend.
The Congress-led Opposition set aside its Muslim cannon fodder for the moment. It now turned to foreign media like The New York Times and The Washington Post to question the government’s handling of the lethal first wave of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The collateral damage done to India by falsifying the Covid narrative was immaterial. To bring the BJP down and regain power the ecosystem was perfectly willing to damage India.
In the second wave that struck India a year later, the Congress ecosystem hit pay dirt. Bodies floating on the Ganga became the scimitar to cut the BJP government down to size.
Journalists, activists, NGOs, Naxals, lawyers — all heeded the call to arms. Anchors and online news sites played devil’s advocate. Stories extracted from the foreign media were gleefully highlighted.
Surely, the ecosystem thought, Modi can’t recover from this. May 2024 now became the lodestar. The general election was still three years away but the Left-Congress ecosystem in mid-2021 thought they finally had their man.
And then the government’s new centralised vaccination drive that began in June 2021 upended the narrative once again. By December 2021, India had vaccinated a significant majority of its adult population. The third wave — Omicron — gave rise briefly to hope in the ecosystem. The hope waned with the third wave. The fourth wave — Xe — remains on the periphery.
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What next? Still reeling from the shock of the BJP’s 2022 Uttar Pradesh victory and with the 2024 Lok Sabha looming, the ecosystem knew it was now or never. It turned back to what it knew best: Using Muslims as cannon fodder.
Incidents of communal violence in Khargone and Jahangirpuri were carefully orchestrated. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the viscerally anti-Modi British press provided useful background as former US President Donald Trump and the US media had done in February 2020.
Once again, Muslim history-sheeters like Mohammad Ansar were requisitioned. The controversy over azaans on loudspeakers, hijab and halal provided the frame for the canvas.
“Secular” politicians who routinely exploit Muslims to regain power at the Centre proved that they had learnt nothing from history.
The writer is editor, author and publisher. Views expressed here are personal.
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