The Communal Appeal In Gujarat Elections

Posted by Majid Alam in Politics
December 21, 2017

The tussle between parties ended as the result of the Gujarat polls were announced on Monday.

The election, which was vital for both parties, ended in the victory of the BJP. The BJP was fighting an election in the home state of Narendra Modi, who was at the forefront of the election campaign. When the parties have more than just seats at stake, the true flavour of Indian politics is put on display.

The Gujarat assembly was vital for the BJP, as it had won all the Lok Sabha seats in the elections of 2014. It was the home state of the Prime Minister and the assembly elections were just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress was forefronting Rahul Gandhi and the young trio, Jignesh Mevani, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, were making fresh entries in politics.

The election was a competition between Hindutva and soft Hindutva. Both Modi and Rahul visited temples during their campaigns. There was little or no mention of Muslims or masjids in the campaign.

During the campaign, a Congress leader clarified that “Rahul Gandhi is not only a Hindu, but a ‘janeu-dhari’ Hindu (one who wears the sacred thread).” The religious identity of the leaders was more than important in the polls. Rahul Gandhi in almost all his campaigns ensured that he had “tilak” on his head.

Muslims make up around 9% of the population in Gujarat. The Congress fielded five Muslim candidates while the BJP didn’t field any Muslim candidate. The Patidar community who make up around 12% of the population and Dalits who are around 7% had more say in the elections. The communal politics during the election was at the highest when a video surfaced on social media showing a girl frightened at the call of the “Azaan”. It suggested a way the voters should decide on communal lines to eliminate a fear posing by a particular community. Even when the elections ended, it couldn’t be found who had made the video.

While the media was busy covering the campaign and the leaders were busy spreading poison in the air, in the neighbouring Rajasthan, Afrajul Khan was burnt alive by Shambhulal Regar.

Regar, who allegedly killed Afrajul, recorded the crime on videotape and also recorded a second video defending his crime.He accused Afrajul Khan, a migrant labourer in his 50s, of ‘love-jihad’, a term coined to explain how Muslim men were luring Hindu girls into marrying them.

The Gujarat Model which the Prime Minister talked about during the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, was completely absent from the campaign. The effects of demonetisation and GST which were lauded as landmark reforms were also absent. The people should be the real stakeholders of their democracy, rather than the political leaders holding the reins of democracy. When the people are lured into communal appeals, and communal appeals are brought to the foreground, it is development, rather than minorities, that suffers a massive a setback.