The Aam Aadmi Party’s triumph in the Delhi assembly election (it is set to win 63 out of 70 seats) is not as overwhelming as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s downfall.
The BJP, with its huge army of sevaks, MPs and top leaders – including the prime minister, the Union home minister and Uttar Pradesh chief minister – tried every trick in their book to woo the voters of Delhi but ultimately failed. During its election campaign, venomous false canards were widely spread by the BJP.
The Union minister of state for finance ignored the impending Budget and instead instigated crowds at an election rally to scream about shooting traitors. Another BJP leader warned that the election was a war between India and Pakistan. One BJP MP even suggested that the mostly women protestors of Shaheen Bagh would burst out to “rape” sisters and daughters in Hindu localities.
It was made amply clear that the traitors and likely rapists were Muslims. The electoral campaign targets were the Hindus of Delhi who the BJP assumed would swallow the hate speeches and go out in droves and vote for it – the Great Saviour of Hindus.
On February 8, the voters of Delhi, over 80% of whom are Hindus, cast their vote not just for the bijli aur paani of Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP but also against BJP’s vicious Muslim-baiting. The BJP is obsessed with the false perception that most Hindus have a deep animus against Muslims. It wrongly assumes that Hindus are communal.
In the past couple of years, the largely Hindu voters of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have rejected the communal campaigns of the BJP during state elections and have thrown it out of power. In the Haryana and Gujarat state elections, the number of BJP’s seats were significantly reduced, though the party managed to remain in power. Uttar Pradesh was the main exception, where the BJP won a clear majority in the in the 2017 state election.
The BJP’s campaigns have not only helped highlight the fact that most Hindus are non-communal but have also done a service to Muslims. By constantly baiting Muslims from 2014 onwards, through wild accusations of ‘love jihad‘, terrorism, supporting Pakistan, separatism and by encouraging the cruel lynching of alleged beef-eaters and cow smugglers, the BJP has finally succeeded in consolidating Muslims in December 2019.
A famously disparate community has united to protest across the country, from Pune to Patna and from small towns in Uttarakhand to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act was only a spark or an excuse for a group humiliated and abused over the past five years to express their angst and pent-up resentment in dozens of largely peaceful Shaheen Baghs all over the country led by Muslim women. Largely from humble, labouring families, these women have forcefully and repeatedly expressed their patriotism, their rejection of patriarchy and their religious pride.
In their resolve, these determined women have been vociferously supported by lakhs of concerned citizens of all communities and most significantly by students of at least 50 campuses ranging from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad to the Banaras Hindu University.
As a political correspondent, Jawid Laiq has been covering national and state elections since 1977. He is the author of The Maverick Republic.