Since the BJP crowd met specifically at Kozhikode last weekend to excavate Deendayal Upadhyaya from oblivion and confer on him some national recognition, Narendra Modi picked up certain remarks of the otherwise forgotten BJP ideologue to reaffirm his love for Muslims. This is understandable after what happened in Gujarat in 2002 on his watch and the electoral rewards the attempt may yield in UP in 2017. The Sangh Parivar deshbhakts to whom this apparently well-meaning message was addressed may find it hard to make sense of what Modi said, quoting the Jana Sangh founder: “Don’t reward Muslims. Don’t rebuke Muslims. Empower them. Don’t think of them as vote-banks or commodities, think of them as your own.”
Upadhyaya had also talked of “purifying” the Muslims before their acceptance which underlines the Jana Sangh theory that Indian Muslims are Hindu converts and they can be “reclaimed” after “shuddhikaran”. The reclaiming business has left the cadres foxed. What has baffled them further is how to reconcile Modi’s occasional love-Muslim talk with his well-advertised refusal to wear a skullcap offered by a Muslim cleric, his silence on verbal and physical attacks on Muslims, including the lynching at Dadri last year, the Muzaffarnagar riots after which the party publicly felicitated the MLAs accused of fanning communal trouble, the killing or thrashing of Muslims carrying cows for slaughter, the beef-in-biryani incidents in Mewat, the assaults on Kashmiri students cheering the Pakistani cricket team and the broader RSS agenda of Hinduising India. Which Modi do they believe in — the one who is silent during the anti-Muslim violence or the one who preaches development for all?
The BJP cadres in UP face an additional problem: choosing between Modi and Amit Shah. The one talks of sabka saath, sabka vikaas and the other, citing Kairana, tells them that Hindus are constantly threatened by Muslims. A clear-headed worldview of the pracharak has got needlessly complicated. After all the anti-Muslim rant, it is quite tough for the simple-minded deshbhakts to consider Muslims as their own. They are straight no-nonsense people who understand clear, direct instructions. Kozhikode has cluttered their thinking.
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