Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Why is Opposition Missing While Violence and Hate Spread?

Afzal Imam |
Every peace-loving Indian who believes in the Constitution, democracy and pluralism seeks an Opposition that will defend these principles, especially when egregious violations occur.
Why is Opposition Missing While Violence and Hate Spread?

Image Courtesy: PTI

There were violent incidents in more than half a dozen states on Ram Navami this year. This year’s pattern was the same everywhere—crowds created an uproar in front of mosques, provocative slogans were raised, and DJs belted out communal rather than religious songs. In some places, revellers installed saffron flags on the walls of mosques, whose videos have gone viral on social media. There were reactions in many places, and the so-called celebrations morphed into riots. These incidents have alarmed every peace-loving Indian who believes in the Constitution, democracy and pluralism. People are worried about their life and property and the future of their children.

It is now a general belief that whatever India witnessed over the last ten days was just a trailer of events to follow. General elections are scheduled for 2024, but Assembly elections will take place in 11 states, including Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, between now and the Lok Sabha polls. The “eighty versus twenty” and bulldozer politics, which started in the Uttar Pradesh election, will continue. This is because it has proved to be such an infallible formula to win elections that it covers up every issue from rampant unemployment, inflation, poverty, poor education facilities, oppression of weaker sections and all other failures of the government.

After rioting in Karauli in Rajasthan, the violence in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh was most talked about. This is because, imitating Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan also got bulldozers to raze dozens of homes and shops, after which he congratulated himself. His supporters have given him a new name, “Bulldozer Mama”. The atmosphere created in the state is such that people have already started talking about whether Chouhan will become chief minister again or not? There are doubts he can get to the top post for the fifth time because state Home Minister Narottam Mishra is blazing a divisive Hindutva trail in Madhya Pradesh. Mishra is considered very close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Fierce competition has broken out in Madhya Pradesh over who gets the credit—Mishra or Chouhan—for the bulldozers that ploughed away the homes and livelihoods of some of its poorest residents. The names of Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia are also in the news. Then there are other leaders, such as Kailash Vijayvargiya and Uma Bharti, who are also active in Madhya Pradesh.

There are reports of violence from places like Himmatnagar and Khambhat in the other poll-bound state, Gujarat. About seven months ago, after removing Vijay Rupani from the post, Bhupendra Patel was made the new Chief Minister. Gujarat is considered a stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party, though it had to fight to hold on to power in the last Assembly election. This is why Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a “roadshow” in Ahmedabad in March, soon after his party won the Uttar Pradesh election.

In July last year, in Karnataka, Basavaraj Bommai was given the post of Chief Minister in place of BS Yeddiyurappa. Since then, the state has been in the news due to the so-called hijab controversy, halal meat, boycott of Muslim shopkeepers, artisans and auto vendors etc. There was also violence in the Kolar district and some other places on Ram Navami. Karnataka is the only state in South India where a BJP government is in power. In 2019, the BJP captured power in Karnataka by breaking legislators away from the Congress party and the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD-S. Now, the BJP has made it a question of prestige to remain in power in Karnataka. And it is amidst the communally charged atmosphere created by divisive issues that the party has started its Assembly election campaign.

Violence and hatred are dangerous for any country and society, but both seem to have no end in India. The situation is such that some people on social media are justifying abuse and even public threats of rape against Muslim women. The problem is getting more and more serious, but it seems there is nobody to control it at any level. That is why it is surprising that the opposition parties did not respond to the violent incidents and frenzied atmosphere in different states. Only Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sent out a tweet appealing for peace and brotherhood, while other opposition leaders, including Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Trinamool top boss and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee kept quiet.

Mutual rivalries among these parties are one thing, but in the kind of situation that is being spread across the country, for the sake of peace and brotherhood, the leaders of these parties could have marched a few steps to the samadhi of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. If this is too much to ask, they could have issued a joint statement, but nothing has happened. The apathy of the opposition parties toward the growing violence and hatred is causing great uneasiness in society. Many are interpreting this silence in ways that will not please the opposition leaders themselves. But such is the competition among them that while violent clashes were taking place in different cities, Congress and BSP leaders were busy accusing each other. At the time, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav sent out news of criminal incidents in Uttar Pradesh via Twitter. Yadav is probably making his second big political mistake in his career. He was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Muzaffarnagar riots erupted in 2013, and at the time, his administration did not take strict action against the instigators. Now, when people have made him a strong Opposition voice in the state, he is silent again. Were issues like “brotherhood” and caste census only meant for elections?

The author is a freelance journalist. The views are personal.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram