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Why 2018 Results Prove That India Cannot Always Be Won By Communalism

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Here is an interesting fact: In the recently concluded assembly elections, neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor Party President Amit Shah was BJP’s star campaigner. That credit went to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who addressed 74 rallies in four of the five poll bound states – Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana – as compared to 32 and 58 rallies attended by the other two respectively.

In state after state, Adityanath, who now serves as the party’s Hindutva mascot, went around spewing venom against Indian Muslims and invoking Ram Mandir. At these meetings, the language used by the CM was coarse and divisive, stoking hatred, and imagining a ‘Ram Rajya’ where everyone, he said would ‘receive benefits without discrimination’. The only people who wouldn’t would be the terrorists, he explained, who he made clear would be fed bullets and not biryani.

Making absolutely clear the identity of the ‘biryani eaters’, while addressing a rally in Nagaur, Rajasthan, Adityanath said, “Dr Manmohan Singh, who was the prime minister, said Muslims have the first right to resources. If Muslims have the first right then where will Hindus go? Congress has always divided…And the result of this divisive politics is terrorists in the country, terrorists to whom they fed biryani.”

If there is one thing that the recently concluded election results made clear, it’s that spouting hate can only get a party so far, even in the Hindi heartland states, where hate has previously been used as a tactic to stitch a victory. It not only puts a question mark on the effectiveness of BJP using its ‘star campaigner’ Yogi Adityanath to espouse that tactic, but also exposes the limit of the rhetoric.

As Sanjay Kakade, a BJP member of Parliament, pointed out on Tuesday, “I think.. we forgot the issue of development that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up in 2014, and turned our focus to statues, name-changing and the Ram temple”.

Kakade seems to be one of the few from within the party who gets it. Sure, Hindutva could appeal to the select faithful, but if there is one thing that these results show, it is that the Mandir cannot be BJP’s sole strategy to stitch together a winning coalition – of the kind it did in 2014.

The party would do well to remember that the people of India gave PM Narendra Modi a huge mandate, based on his party’s stated agenda of development or ‘vikas’. To an aspiring, urban India, that meant the promise of jobs. And to rural idea, it meant a chance at a better life, not through doles or welfare, but through smart, agricultural policies.

Instead, four and a half years later, and despite its most concerted efforts, unemployment is on a rise. The spiraling distress in the agricultural sector prompted thousands of farmers from across the nation to march to the country’s capital, demanding redressal. The effects of the party’s most controversial economic decisions – demonetization of high value currency notes in 2016 – are still being assessed today, with noted economists and ordinary citizens coming out to criticize it.

But, instead of working on providing solutions to these problems, the party seems to have doubled on its Hindutva agenda – with the narrative veering towards beef ban, Mughals, renaming cities and minority appeasement.

In the absence of a strong socio-economic and political agenda to fall back on, it seems that the party is falling back on the one trope it knows best – trying to make India vote on sectarian lines by fomenting country’s majority Hindus prejudices against its Muslims.

The results indicate that the party can no longer hope to propel itself to victory by sitting on this Hindutva high horse. It can no longer distract the country from its shortcomings of governance, by focussing on this narrative of hate.

The country WILL hold the party to account. And it would be wise for the party to remember this, as it goes into 2019.

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  1. Himanshu Sahni

    The basic requirements of those geographical location’s were agriculture related issue, farmers day to day problems and poverty.

    Show the public what they want else you can’t win.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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