Not Hindu? Then You Can’t Vote in India!

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A Muslim man shows his ink-marked finger in Tiamari village

For the umpteenth time!

Ever since the BJP government has assumed power, the entire right-wing pro-hindutva bandwagon has dedicated all its energies full time on a barefaced and shameful ‘Islam murdabad’ stance. It’s as if the likes of Shiv Sena, VHP, RSS just have nothing else left to do in life than spread hatred and divide on communal terms. They are not even sparing school textbooks!

The latest antics, of course you would have heard already, is that of good old Shiv Sena. They have a latest tantrum where they don’t want our Muslims brother and sisters to vote anymore. Why? Because Shiv Sena is just weird like that.

An editorial in the magazine ‘Samana’ which represents the voice of Shiv Sena has argued that minority communities are exploited for their vote banks. They went on to add that All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Owaisi brothers are no less than “poisonous snakes” who ‘exploit’ their religious credentials to suit their political ends.

“If Muslims are only being used this way to play politics, then they can never develop. Muslims will have no future till they are used to play vote bank politics and thus Balasaheb had once said to withdraw Muslim voting rights. What he said is right”, the editorial contended.

The editorial also rested on the ‘educational and health status’ of Muslims being employed as a trump card to instigate communal sentiments. But these comments have faced widespread backlash from several political parties. The Congress maintained that the remarks were divisive and against the secular ideals of the state.

The BJP government has time and again faced flak from Opposition parties for being repeatedly communal in their political practices. Though the government carefully distances themselves from such controversy it has not come clear to take a stand on it. It goes in line with the deliberate dropping of the word ‘secular’ from the PM’s ‘Republic Day Speech’.

However, it gives perspective to note that the ‘minority’ community of Muslims in India accounts for 10% of the world’s Muslims and stands at more than 176 million. Discarding their ‘voting rights’ would be like going back to the middle ages and adopting a fundamentalist view of the world that goes against India’s rich, diverse cultural heritage.

The basic right guaranteed to every citizen of India, the right to universal adult suffrage, has been overlooked in the concerned editorial. To this end, the Samajwadi Party came out against the comments saying such voices are out of line with the Constitution of India and hence should be driven out of the country.

Facing a concerted volley of criticism the Sena softballed their position and said that they only meant to say that they don’t stand for ‘appeasement politics’. That is a courageous declaration coming from a part that has a pro-Marathi ideology and depends on their regionalist and fundamentalist tropes to garner political support.

Shaina NC, came forward from the BJP to declare that her party didn’t subscribe to Sanjay Raut’s—Shiv Sena leader and the writer of the editorial—opinions but he had the right to express them nonetheless. Following the Sena editorial, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi was ridiculed for throwing a challenge to Uddhav Thackeray to visit Hyderabad. To which perhaps, the Sena editorial though it right to call him a ‘poisonous snake’.

In this heated debate, what emerges is that Hindutva fundamentalist voices continues in the regime of a right-wing government at the centre. So much so, that what Bal Thackeray had said fifteen years ago is being exhumed to fire afresh a communally charged discourse on the misleading pretext of ‘vote bank politics’ where the Shiv Sena themselves thrive on the same practice.

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