The ‘action-reaction’ phenomenon and societal churn in Uttar Pradesh

Left-liberal media has been aghast for the past few days, at the sight of a saffron-clad “Yogi” rising to a constitutional post like being the Chief Minister of the state which is the largest in terms of voters and electoral significance.

A shallow analysis based on the projections and leanings of left-liberal media would lead a common man to believe that this is the rise of radical Hinduism and India is moving on a dark path. One cannot blame the common man for believing this (as mainstream media still shapes the narrative) but to understand this phenomenon from the narrow, biased prism of left liberal media is doing disservice to what a large section of the populace has experienced.

Before we come to Uttar Pradesh, let us see what happened in the US recently. Surely Hindus or Modi have no impact there. In the USA, we saw the rise of an obviously flawed leader who became the head of state, again to the agony of left-liberal media. Self-avowed left-winger and Trump critic Michael Moore had predicted a Trump victory. He gave reasons for his prediction, and the top 2 reasons, broadly referred to:

  1. Anger of the middle class stemming from loss/lack of jobs.
  2. A sense among the majority (in the US, referring to the whites), that they have let things slip too far out of their hands.
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The debate here is not whether these abstract feelings are valid or not; the point is, they exist.

Coming to India, in 2014, we saw another “polarising” figure rise to the top of the country, amassing unprecedented public support. There were many agendas which Modi, the PM candidate, pushed, but two of them were certainly these:

  1. Jobs, development, growth, “vikas”, and along with that,
  2. His image of being a proud Hindu, a nationalist, who believes in “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” without pseudo-secularism and also someone who does not feel shy of flaunting his religion.

The first part is common to most political aspirants. The second point is what flummoxed most.

It did not fit into the age-old Nehruvian definition of secularism, hence it was branded as “Hindutva” or “Hindu Nationalism”. But this redefined secularism, that of “Sab ka saath sab ka vikas”, found resonance with the populace which was fed up of minority appeasing politics symbolised by this one line of former PM Manmohan Singh: “minorities, particularly the Muslim minority must have the first claim on resources”.

The underlying factor here too remains the same as what was felt in the US; the sense amongst the majority that the politics of minority appeasement had pushed the so-called privileged majority too far down the list of priorities.

More recently in India, we saw similar sentiments rise amongst the “Hindus” themselves. We saw what can be called the “Intermediary Caste unrest“:  Marathas protested in Maharashtra demanding reservation and repeal of Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act). Similar demands were made by relatively affluent castes like the Patels, the Gujjars, the Jats. Politically driven or not, the strain was similar: A section felt alienated due to the perceived over-reach of the social re-engineering process called reservation.

They felt that reservation was now no longer confined to specific communities that had suffered historical atrocities. Reservation had become less about deprivation and more about political resource. Worse, reservation benefits had not been evenly dispersed and had created creamy layers within the OBCs/Dalits. This left the poorer sections or even the richer portions of the intermediary or upper caste feeling left out and ignored. Again, this is not about validity of the arguments, but existence of these sentiments.

Uttar Pradesh was no different. “Vikas” was no doubt the main plank, but “vikas” for whom, was the burning question. Uttar Pradesh had been witness to over a decade of “secular politics” at the hands of BSP and SP. The Prime Minister in his speeches just touched on this issue, when he raised the Smashans vs Kabrasthan point.

An analysis revealed that the per-capita budgetary allocation for Kabrasthans was 8.69 times the per capita allotment to Smashans. Similarly, his argument about religious discrimination when it comes to electricity supply too was vindicated. This was the accepted trend of “secularism” and “development” in Uttar Pradesh, and was at loggerheads with the “sab ka saath” model of secularism and “sab ka vikas” model of development.

Owing to such sentiments, Uttar Pradesh saw a reverse polarisation of Hindus. As noted by former politician from UP, Arif Mohammad Khan, a communal polarisation helped BJP, but he laid the blame squarely at the feet of so-called “secular” parties. As per Arif Mohammad Khan, the moment Congress and Samajwadi Party came together, it was a signal of Muslim vote consolidation – for there is nothing else common between the supporters of the two parties except Muslim votes – and this in turn caused Hindu consolidation. A consolidation, backed by the deep need for development, and sense of being left behind by appeasement politics.

But this dual need, perfectly encapsulated in “sab ka saath sab ka vikas”, led to the rise of Yogi Adityanath. Polls showed that he was the second most popular CM candidate for the BJP in UP, only behind Home Minister and former CM Rajnath Singh. How did the need of the masses to ensure equitable growth for all sections, lead to the rise of a “hardliner” like Yogi Adityanath?

Societal churning can be akin to the progression of a Sine Wave. There are crests, and there are troughs, the higher the crests the deeper the troughs. Uttar Pradesh was going through a deep trough, where a warped sense of minority appeasement masquerading as secularism had affected the lives of the majority. The response to the deep trough was a polar opposite in the form of Yogi Adityanath.

In an ideal world, both the crests and troughs should be minimised. To correctly quote the much mauled words of the then Gujarat CM: “A chain of action and reaction is going on. We neither want action nor reaction”.

We neither want an India were minority appeasement is practised in the name of secularism, nor do we want an India where the majority sect is allowed to mistreat minorities. We want an India of “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas”, but we are not yet ready for it. India has seen a trough, it will see a crest and once the two subside, India must ensure that we stay as close to the equilibrium as possible.

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