With the Bharatiya Janata Party securing a clear majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, one thing has become abundantly clear– ‘Hindutva‘ is now mainstream in India. The fact that the Indian public chose to actively reward divisive Hindu ideologues, who openly espoused hate, voting for them in huge numbers, only proves this point.
Nowhere was this more clear than in Bhopal, where BJP candidate Pragya Thakur secured a sweeping victory by defeating Congress candidate Digvijay Singh by over three lakh votes. The 49-year-old Pragya Singh Thakur, who uses the prefix Sadhvi, is the first person accused of terrorism to be fielded by a major political group in India, and will now become the first terror accused to join Parliament.
Sadhvi had also openly stated that she was one of the leaders who had helped demolish the Babri Masjid in 1992 and was proud of it. In one of her speeches, she had said, “I have no prior political experience, it’s true… But I am here because this election is a religious war. This election, you will choose between nationalism and terrorism. This election, if you vote for the BJP, nationalism wins, Hindus win.”
Now, let’s give the lady some credit. Throughout her political rallies, Thakur was honest about who she was and what she believed in. She didn’t lie or hide behind a pseudo-fake agenda. She openly informed the public that she neither had the political experience nor the credentials to run for office. Heck, she didn’t even have a development agenda to boot. The joke here may as well be on the Indian people who, knowing this (or despite knowing this), voted for her.
Thakur’s election campaign was simple–to invoke her identity as a saffron-clad Sadhvi or holy woman who sacrificed her worldly life for the sake of Hindutva and the brand of politics that our Prime Minister endorses.
Contrast Thakur’s phenomenal victory to the massive defeat faced by another woman candidate whose politics differed strikingly from hers – AAP’s Atishi (who lost by a margin of 3.8 lakhs to BJP’s Gautam Gambhir), and it’s plain to see where the public sensibilities swung.
An Oxford graduate, Atishi joined Aam Aadmi Party and led large-scale education reforms in Delhi’s government schools with stunning results. Here is a woman who had the insight, expertise and a clear cut plan, devoid of hate or rhetoric. And so here was also a woman who was booted out – penalised if you will – for her excellence. The joke, again, is on the Indian public.
To be clear, comparing just these two women leaders could seem unfair to some. After all, both contested from two very different parts of India, and local conditions and factors would have had a role to play.
Some things, however, cannot be ignored- both of them represented two very different brands of politics. Atishi asked to be voted in the name of her credentials, experience, and vision; Thakur asked for the votes in the name of Hindutva, hate and of course ‘Modi’. In choosing one over another, Indian people equivocally expressed the politics that they backed.
If looked at another way, it is also a verdict about the kind of politics that people rejected: of Nyay(justice), of Samaanta (equality), of Vikaas (progress).
By choosing leaders like Thakur, the Indian public has finally exposed its bias. The mask of secularism that it was hiding behind is finally off.
Like it or not, hate runs through our system now, and has found a seat in our Parliament.
The joke, once more, is on the people.