Many people ask me if I am against BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) because I was born into a Muslim family and have a Muslim name. Or worse, assume the same. I just want to clarify that with a resounding NO. Because to begin with, I am an agnostic who doesn’t subscribe to any religion.
My revulsion towards right wing parties like BJP or the Muslim league or (insert name of any right wing party of your choice) would have been the same had I been born into an upper caste Hindu family, a Dalit Christian family or a Communist atheist family. Because my revulsion is rooted in the fact that these parties grab power by dividing Indians against Indians. Religion made it easy for them. If it had not been religion, it would have been caste. If not caste, then some other factor. In my view, anyone with a shred of decency would oppose them.
Remember, the people killed in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar and Delhi (in 1984) were Indians, innocent Indians. More often than not, poor Indians – because it was easier for the rich to escape. The people who were brainwashed into killing their fellow country men were also Indians – again, mostly poor – because the rich usually get the poor to do their dirty work. Now you may believe that the Gujarat and Delhi killings were “revenge”. My question is: were those who were killed the culprits of any crime? if not, please ask yourselves why you consider it “revenge”. I would like to hazard a guess that the answer might reveal some interesting insights about your own prejudices (if you enjoy that sort of introspection, that is…I would hazard a second guess and say you are probably not into that sort of thing).
Today, we see a whole group of people cheering the fact that slaughter houses in UP are being shut down and people are losing their livelihood. Just because they have been taught to see “them” not as humans or Indians – but as “others”.
Are right wing parties responsible for this? Not really. All of us have our prejudices. I, for one, believe anyone who insults the Harry Potter books deserves a hiding. But I keep these dark thoughts to myself because they are stupid. However, tomorrow if a political party starts hounding people who don’t like Harry Potter and tells me I am superior for doing so, and a few million people think the charismatic leader championing the cause is the new messiah – maybe I will get enthralled and go along in the name of “development”. And will gleefully see my fellow countrymen lose their lives and livelihoods over an imagined difference.
By the way, I have also met a few Muslims who support Modi. It used to surprise (and disgust) me initially. But when I thought about it – it really isn’t all that surprising.
And this is what right wing parties do so effectively. They fan the tribal instincts among ordinary people and taking advantage of their bigotries – all in a bid to rise to power.
Not one right wing party would say – all human beings are equal, irrespective of race or religion or caste or economic status or whether they are immigrants.If they do say and mean this, they would become the centrist, moderate party that everyone loves to hate these days.
However, I firmly believe that the people who now believe that they are “safe” because their name is not Bilkhis Bano but say (insert a “safe” name here), would live to rue the day they brought a right wing government to power. It won’t happen tomorrow or next year or maybe even 10 years down the line. But it will happen in my lifetime. Not because of karma or justice or any such concepts which are constructs inside our own heads, but for practical reasons.
Their hatred for “others” or rather their overwhelming love for their glorious leader (because he allows them to show their bigotry openly) has already made them turn a blind eye to mundane facts like jobs or economic growth or health or education policies. Anti romeo squads are more important that schools, right? Like the school ground bully’s sidekick who revels in the fact that his “leader” is so good at beating up others half his size and forgetting the fact that the bully is in fact a pea-brain who cannot help the sidekick in studies or to land a job.
By the way, I have also met a few Muslims who support Modi. It used to surprise (and disgust) me initially. But when I thought about it – it really isn’t all that surprising (I am still trying very hard to get over the disgust – because it is not correct on my part). They, just like so many of their country men, believe they are “safe”. Their economic status or geographic location makes them less of a target, than say poor Muslims living in UP. Plus, supporting Modi these days (especially if you have a Muslim name) is a surefire way to be considered “cool”. So they play their part. But I have said this before and will repeat again: you cannot set fire to your neighbour’s house and assume that the smoke would not one day sting your eyes and cloud your vision.
p.s.: Some people reading this are probably thinking – why can’t she go spout this nonsense is Saudi Arabia/ Bangladesh/ Pakistan/ …well.. my only reply is: I don’t have to. I have no intention of putting the flames off someone else’s burning house, when my own house is catching fire.
Also, try looking past people’s names (if you can).
(The author is a Project Manager working in an MNC in Bangalore. Follow Benazir here)