Chun chun ke nikaloonga (we’ll throw them out one by one). This was BJP president Amit Shah’s dire warning to the ghuspetiyas or the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They should be killed like kira, makaura (insects), threatened a BJP leader of Telangana, Raja Singh. Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav’s prescription for them was “detection, deletion (of names) and deportation”.
The basis of these three steps which are intended to safeguard the country from these unwanted guests – the phrase about regarding them as gods (atithi deva bhavo) evidently does not apply to them – is the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which makes a list of those who are legal residents and those who are not.
The exercise of detection is now on in Assam, but the state’s chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, wants it to be undertaken all over the country. The idea has been voiced by other BJP leaders as well.
Behind this orchestrated targeting of the immigrants is the party’s need to pose as the sole saviour of the nation in the run-up to the next general election when all other parties are unwilling, in its view, to denounce the “aliens” and take effective steps against them because they are a part of the Muslim vote bank of the “secular” parties.
The BJP is quite sure that its articulation of uncompromising, muscular nationalism against both the Bangladeshi immigrants and the Rohingyas will consolidate its support base comprising the Hindus, especially the communal-minded among them.
In making the assertion about detection and deportation, the party conveniently glosses over the fact that since Bangladesh has consistently denied that the infiltrators belong to that country, there is no question of sending them back.
So, where will they be sent since setting them adrift in the Bay of Bengal is not feasible? Nor is it possible to imprison them in the Nazi-style concentration camps of the kind which China has set up for the Muslims of Uighur. India’s democracy forbids such measures.
The BJP, of course, is not interested in the practical aspects of the issue since such an approach will detract from its purpose of conjuring up the spectre of the country being swamped by Muslim immigrants and their home-grown co-religionists who breed exponentially with their four wives as Narendra Modi’s slogan of hum panch, hamare pachees underlined.
The NRC is not the only issue which the BJP uses as a scare-mongering tactic. The “threat” posed by the so-called urban Naxalites is another. Till the Bhima-Koregaon episode in Maharashtra put the BJP on the back foot because of the suspected involvement in the violence involving Dalits and saffron groups of Hindutva stalwarts like Sambhaji Bhide, whom Modi has called his “guru”, and Milind Ekbote, the phrase “Urban Naxals” was hardly ever used.
Now it has come handy for the BJP to taint the urban intelligentsia – the “award-wapsi gang” – with the charge of clandestine links with the Maoist insurgents. It will obviously take a long time to prove this connection since the judiciary is unlikely to be immediately impressed by the police charge-sheets.
But, as in the case of the illegal immigrants, the BJP’s objective is to keep these controversies simmering so that at least a section of the electorate will be convinced by the efforts which the party is making to save the country while the opposition parties will not be too eager to side with the “aliens” or the urban Naxalites lest they be seen as being oblivious of the dangers.
In India, as also elsewhere, the far right always has an advantage when beating the patriotic drum. The mentality of the right-wing groups is that of primitive, tribal villagers to whom the unknown outsider or the non-conformists within the community are invariably a menace, for they represent an outlook which militates against the existing traditional way of life.
They must either be ousted or incarcerated so that the long settled customs and lives of the villagers are not disturbed. This restricted worldview may be out of place in an open society, but the BJP gets over the difficulty by turning away from a possible solution such as providing the immigrants with work permits so that they may stay on in India but not vote since the party’s purpose is to compound the situation and not find a way out.
Similarly, in the case of the “Urban Naxals”, the BJP equates the words and deeds of the left-liberal activists with anti-government conspiracy and prefers to keep them locked up. Mercifully, the judiciary has pointed out that dissent is a safety-valve which cannot be choked lest there is an explosion.
But, as Modi once warned the courts against being swayed by “five-star” activists, the BJP’s approach towards the non-saffron social workers and NGOs is marked by suspicion and hostility.
Since the party is also motivated by a win-at-all-costs philosophy, it has no hesitation in following its sectarian instincts against Muslims and Leftists — the two “internal enemies”, according to MS Golwalkar — as long as the policy serves the party’s political purpose, notwithstanding its divisive potential. (IPA)