Lok Sabha Election 2024: Communal Rhetoric Surges In Western Uttar Pradesh Ahead Of Polls, Stirring Deep Divisions

Lok Sabha Election 2024: Communal Rhetoric Surges In Western Uttar Pradesh Ahead Of Polls, Stirring Deep Divisions

Terms such as “exodus”, “curfew”, “fatwa” and “riots” dominate, setting a charged atmosphere in the eight LS constituencies.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Monday, April 15, 2024, 11:35 AM IST
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The electoral landscape in western Uttar Pradesh, characterised by Muslim population, is witnessing a troubling rise in communal rhetoric. Contentious issues have come to the forefront, exposing deep-seated communal fault lines in the region. Terms such as “exodus”, “curfew”, “fatwa” and “riots” dominate, setting a charged atmosphere in the eight LS constituencies.

“Uttar Pradesh is a hotbed of communal polarisation because it benefits all parties. If BJP gains from issues like fatwas and curfews, SP and Congress mobilise Muslims by instilling fear of Hindu majoritarianism,” remarked political analyst Rajesh N Bajpai. He said communal politics has always dominated western UP.

It is history as how its political tapestry changed in 2016-17 when exodus claim was made by BJP leader Hukum Singh and how the then ruling SP protected a section of society during Muzaffarnagar riots.

“The embers of that riot still singes, and exodus and Muzaffarnagar riots are still part of political discourse,” he said. BJP has focused on alleged Hindu exodus, communal disturbances leading to prolonged curfews, disruptions to religious pilgrimages like kanwar yatras, fatwas and perceived obstacles to the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The approach, it seems, is tailored to attract Hindu voters.

Meanwhile, Congress candidate Imran Masood, previously embroiled in controversy for remarks against then PM candidate Narendra Modi in 2014, has been observed publicly visiting temples and engaging in Hindu rituals, signalling a shift in strategy.

At a rally in Deoband, an important Islamic centre in Saharanpur, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath alleged chaos and religious extremism were propagated through fatwas from Deoband, condemning previous governments for fostering religious fanaticism in the seminary. Yogi accused Congress and SP of capitulating to mafia elements, underscoring his government's decisive action against them, with individuals like Atiq Ahmad, his brother Ashraf and Mukhtar Ansari facing consequences.

Earlier, in Meerut, Yogi contrasted the choice between peaceful religious processions like kanwar yatras and communal unrest marked by curfews, receiving applause from the crowd. In Muzaffarnagar, Union Home Minister Amit Shah referred to the Hindu exodusfrom Kairana and other areas before the BJP assumed power in 2017, asserting that the current administration has restored safety and order.

Similarly, PM Modi blamed Congress and other parties for obstructing the construction of the Ram temple, positioning BJP as the champion of Hindu aspirations.

Political analyst Manoj Bhadra emphasised the significance of development and law enforcement in favour of BJP in western UP, noting a fear of polarisation within the Congress-SP alliance due to the increasing consolidation of Hindu voters. He observed a shift in rhetoric among leaders like Imran Masood towards advocating Hindu-Muslim harmony.

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