That a Muslim won the seat hurts them more than the BJP’s defeat.
By- Shivam Vij-
On Hindutva WhatsApp groups in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP’s defeat in the Kairana bypoll is a matter of vindication. I-told-you-so is the tone of most responses. They blame Modi’s alleged desertion of the Hindutva agenda, but also Hindus for not being united enough.
1. “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is taking Modi down,” says one C.M. Tiwari in a group called “Rajesh Yuva Vahini”. But Modi still has time, he says, and should focus on upper caste Hindus, otherwise he can forget 2019.
Here’s the group’s profile picture. Perhaps that’s the eponymous Mr. Rajesh with RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat.
2. On a group called “Mission Lok Sabha 2019”, one member said that the BJP shouldn’t be worried about bypoll losses because the solution is easy. All that Narendra Modi has to do is to pass a law to build a grand Ram Mandir on the disputed site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. “Give everyone a shock, fulfil your promise to Hindus. This will defeat opposition unity because Hindus are still with you, their only hope is you. This is the only way to win 2019.”
3. One viral message, cross-posted across pro-BJP, Hindutva WhatsApp groups, takes to fake news. “Today I am very happy,” it says, “I was sad at the Kairana defeat in the morning but I was overjoyed when I heard Kairana’s new Lok Sabha MP speak. She said her victory was the victory of Islam!” Of course she said no such thing. Instead, she said that Jats and Muslims alike voted for her, bringing communal harmony back to the area that saw Jat-Muslim riots in 2013.
But the blatant fake news that she called it the victory of Islam was to give the result a communal colour. “This is a slap on the faces of those Hindus who voted for Tabassum Begum just because they are opposed to Modi, and for casteist reasons. As soon as she won, she insulted their ‘bhaichara’ by removing the ‘bhai’ and showing them they are only ‘chara’ (fodder),” said another message.
Another similar message falsely claims that Tabassum Begum said the result was “a victory of Allah and the defeat of Ram. And here are we Hindus counting the cost of petrol! Shame on us!”.
4. Some messages say that Muslims are being ungrateful in not voting for the BJP. “Modi ji gave Abdul a toilet, a gas stove, a bank account, insurance, scholarship for his daughter… but Abdul stabbed Modi ji in the back in Kairana. Come back Modi ji, time for your ghar wapsi.”
No matter how much Modi offers chaddars at Sufi shrines, no matter how many mosques he visits, he is not going to get Muslim votes, the same message warns. “The message from Kairana is that he may lose Hindu votes instead.”
5. While most messages politely beseech Modi to stick to Hindutva, one poem in shuddhHindi doesn’t mince words. From doing an alliance with a soft-separatist PDP in Kashmir to not building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, it counts all the Hindutva problems with Modi.
6. One long message from “Raghavendra Hindu” says that Modi was not made Prime Minister to build roads or toilets or clean the streets. “Calling himself pradhan sewak, it looks like Modi has started thinking he really is a sewak. But he was elected to rule India and end the Muslim rule. When media used to call Modi the killer of Muslims, Hindu nationalists used to feel proud of him. Modi was made Prime Minister because after hundreds of years they found someone who can teach these people a lesson in their own language,” it says. It says Modi will have to explain what he has done for Rashtra and Dharma, nation and faith. From Ram Mandir to Article 370 to population control, it asks of all the popular Hindutva concerns.
7. Most messages are centred around Hindutva, but there’s only one that mentions the problems of sugarcane farmers and the BJP’s alienation of Dalits. For this, it blames neither Modi nor Yogi, but Yogi’s ministerial colleagues.
Our Bollywood celebrities line up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for no reason at all but to enjoy a fan moment.
American TV reality show star Kim Kardashian West met Donald Trump, Wednesday to discuss prison reforms and sentencing of a 63-year-old grandmother who had been jailed since 1997 for a non-violent drug case without a parole.
Kardashian West used her celebrity status and her meeting with Trump to highlight an important issue.
Closer home, just look at how our own B-town celebrities line up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi – apparently for no reason at all but to enjoy a fan moment.
Here are some big names who have met Modi without a cause.
Kangana Ranaut met Modi in person at the Rising India summit held in March this year. She used that opportunity to tell the world how Modi inspired her – a typical fangirl moment. When the nationalist actor Akshay Kumar met Modi, he used the opportunity to promote his film ‘Toilet-Ek Prem Katha’, which was inspired by Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan. ‘Singham’ actor Ajay Devgn’s wife Kajol also met the PM in 2016 in the capacity of Hindustan Unilever’s brand ambassador to discuss Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a child reach 5’ campaign. Just like Akshay Kumar, she also praised him for his Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
Apart from kite-flying before elections, our Bhaijaan Salman Khan had also met Modi in November 2014 but why he met him is still unclear.
Virat Kohli went to the Modi’s office to invite him for his wedding with Anushka Sharma. But he chose not to speak about the corruption and nepotism in cricket boards with the so-called anti-corruption PM.
All these meets end up bolstering only Modi’s image, and don’t amount to anything. Oh yes, they do generate a star-struck selfie or that perfect photo-op for a tweet.
Not kind to criticism
Of course, there are exceptions. Priyanka Chopra and Aamir Khan.
Last year in May, Priyanka met him in Berlin when Modi was there for his four-day tour to Germany, Spain Russia and France, for no overt reason. But the second time she met him in April this year, it was in the capacity of a Unicef goodwill ambassador. She invited him for a conference on ‘Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’, scheduled for later this year.
Aamir Khan met Modi in June 2014 to shine light on issues highlighted by his TV show ‘Satyamev Jayate’. But Aamir has since gone silent. Modi government does not take kindly to criticism. When Aamir quoted his wife Kiran Rao about his anxieties over rising intolerance, he was massively trolled and quickly labelled anti-national and anti-Sanksari and asked to go to Pakistan. Shah Rukh Khan faced a volley of attack when he similarly spoke against extreme intolerance.
Neither Modi nor his supporters are open to criticism. It is not just Aamir Khan, even a Modi-supporter like Akshay Kumar is afraid. He has deleted his old tweets criticising fuel price hike in fear of embarrassing his political idol.
The attacks go beyond trolling. There is a real price to pay for speaking your mind in the new political climate. Actor Prakash Raj hasn’t been offered a single role in Bollywood ever since he started criticising the government and the political ideology that it emboldens.
Why waste an opportunity
Both Kajol and Priyanka, however, met Modi in the capacity of a representative of an organisation and not as private citizens whereas Kim Kardashian didn’t need to be the UN ambassador to discuss prison reforms with Trump.
Forget Kim Kardashian or Bollywood stars, when I was a student activist in Panjab University, our team used to meet politicians in power. Apart from greeting and clicking pictures, we also used the few minutes to discuss policies that were hurting the students. My power as student politician was limited and I wasn’t famous. But why waste a meeting with someone who is powerful? If young students can understand the value of such an opportunity, why can’t the big stars?