The BJP won decisive victories in the Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. However, in Goa, the mood of the mandate was certainly against the ruling BJP, with six of eight sitting BJP Ministers including the outgoing CM losing the elections and the Congress emerging as the single largest party. The BJP however effected a virtual coup in Goa, patching together a post-poll coalition with the legislators of the Gowa Forward Party that had projected itself as a staunchly secular party, as well as the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and several other MLAs who had contested the elections on a specifically anti-BJP plank. In a shocking breach of propriety, the Goa Governor admitted that she consulted the Union Finance Minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley before choosing to invite the BJP to form Government in Goa. In Manipur also, where there was a hung Assembly with the Congress as the single largest party, the BJP cobbled together an opportunist post-poll alliance with some MLAs to stake claim to form government, with the cooperation of the Governor.
In Uttar Pradesh as well, the BJP’s choice of Chief Minister amounts to an attempt to manipulatively interpret the mandate as being for an explicit agenda of aggressive Hindutva. The BJP’s poll campaign sought a mandate based on overt promises of pro-poor ‘development’ and ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ (Inclusion and Development For All), accompanied with calculated doses of communal dog-whistles about ‘Romeo squads’ or ‘shamshan vs kabristan.’ The choice of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister mocks any notion of inclusiveness or development, since Adityanath’s only USP is naked, blatant communal, casteist, and patriarchal hate-mongering and violence.
The BJP has tried to soften the decision by appointing two Deputy CMs including Keshav Prasad Maurya, whose appointment as BJP State President had helped win the support of many backward castes for the BJP. But it is starkly clear that Adityanath’s appointment as CM, far from signaling a nod to voter fatigue with ‘caste-based politics’ or to inclusion of the hitherto marginalized non-Yadav BCs and non-Jatav Dalits, on the contrary signals a return to upper caste consolidation in Uttar Pradesh politics.
Yogi Adityanath has earned notoriety as a communal bigot, whose private militia Hindu Yuva Vahini is responsible for fomenting communal violence all over eastern Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath himself has several serious criminal charges pending against him.
In a series of inflammatory speeches over the years, he has threatened to “kill 100 Muslims for every Hindu killed”; “get 100 Muslim girls into the Hindu fold for every Hindu girl who marries a Muslim”; “install statues of Gauri and Ganesh in every mosque”; he has advised those who do not do yoga or worship Lord Shankar to “leave the country”; to organize a boycott of actor Shah Rukh Khan’s films which would reduce him to “wandering on the streets like an ordinary Muslim.” He has publicly recommended curbs on Muslim population so as to avoid riots. In his approving presence his supporters have made public speeches calling for stripping Muslims of the right to vote and raping the corpses of dead Muslim women.
Till recently, prominent defenders and ideologues of the Modi Government were prone to argue that Modi stood for a lofty ideal of ‘development’ while it was only a ‘lunatic fringe’ represented by the likes of Adityanath who indulged in communal hate-speech and violence. Some of Modi’s most ardent supporters had even gone to the extent of demanding publicly that Adityanath be thrown out of the BJP and jailed. BJP’s choice of UP Chief Minister has put paid to all such claims of tensions in the saffron camp between the ‘development’ agenda and the communal one. It underlines the basic unity and continuity in agendas of the Prime Minister, the central government, and the RSS, marked by a simultaneous pursuit of aggressive pro-corporate and communal Hindutva goals. Essentially, the so-called saffron Hindutva ‘fringe’ actually constitutes the core of BJP’s and the Modi Government’s politics, where communal rhetoric coexists with rhetoric of corporate-led development and digitalization.
Adityanath is on record opposing women’s reservation in political forums on the grounds that this has a bad impact on their primary roles as mothers and wives and adopting ‘masculine roles’ turns women into ‘demons.’ He has argued openly for women to be kept under masculine restrictions and regulation by their father, husbands or sons. He is also on record asking for restrictions on SC/ST and OBC reservations. Such views are a reminder that the ‘New India’ goal that Modi speaks of is nothing more or less than the Hindu Rashtra, where the obscurantist and hierarchical worldview of the RSS constitutes the core of all the BJP’s rhetoric of modern economic ‘empowerment’ and ‘development.’ That worldview, apart from being inimical to the identity and rights of Muslims and various other minority communities as equal citizens, is intensely hostile to bids for equality and dignity of women or oppressed and backward castes.
Ever since Modi became Prime Minister in May 2014, his agenda of corporate-communal fascism has been met with powerful all-round resistance and democratic assertion, every step of the way. March 2017 will in no way dampen this resistance and assertion, and will instead unleash new waves of people’s struggles.