THE DYING FRINGE
The line between the fringe and the mainstream Hindutva functionaries disappeared in 2017. If the prime minister made unverifiable statements about the possibility of Pakistan’s involvement in a provincial election, you also had a cabinet minister, Anant Kumar Hegde, making it clear that the BJP was in power to change the constitution, to remove the “word secular” from it.
The saffron-robed MP Sakshi Maharaj also blamed “those who support the concept of four wives and 40 children” for the problem of population rise in India. When the legislators spoke such, the energised lower-level officials of the BJP like Suraj Pal Amu, chief media co-ordinator of Haryana, also had the opportunity to offer a bounty for beheading Deepika Padukone for acting in the film Padmavati. And yet, if one recounted these incidents as a matter of grave danger to Indian democracy, the prime minister would also be quick to dismiss his critics as “pessimists.” The year moved clearly towards legitimising the rogue as the usually-vocal Union government maintained a conspicuous silence on all such acts of barbarity even as it celebrated all events that have the makings of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The grand PR-driven exercises by different BJP units like Deepawali in Ayodhya, or Hanuman Jayanti in Karnataka, or say, the huge public investments on International Yoga Day became wise ways for the government to deflect attention from the growing unemployment level and a worsening farming crisis.
Is the BJP creating an abusive electorate? Is the Hindu nationalist party foregrounding the more inhumane sides of the Hindu majority? These are questions many have been pondering over. 2017 stands witness to the fact that religious polarisation may have won the BJP many elections but it may have also cemented abuse as an increasingly acceptable means to practice politics.
The disruptions in society, especially in north India, as a result is there for everyone to see. Each passing day, the BJP supporters appear to find new logic to justify these actions even as the democratic traditions are being institutionally held on the cross.