Justice Markandey Katju –
The exit polls for the five state assembly elections indicate disaster for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. If their prediction proves correct, Rajasthan is lost to the BJP, with similar results in Madhya Pradesh,Chattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram. In this eventuality, as I mentioned in my article in dailyo [https://www.dailyo.in/voices/
Let me explain.
Lok Sabha elections are a war for the Delhi Sultanate, and Indian history shows that in such wars no holds are barred and rivers of blood have flown, for example in the War of Succession after Shah Jahan’s illness. So every dirty trick to win will be used by all parties. Congress was in power for half a century, BJP for only about 10 years. Naturally it would not like to lose power, and will use every ‘ saam daam dand bhed ‘ to retain it. And being in power in the federal center and in many states gives it a distinct advantage, as it will definitely use the state machinery for its benefit.
The main problem for the BJP is this: its secure vote bank is made up by upper-caste Hindus, but these collectively (Brahmins, Rajputs, Banias, Bhumihars, etc) make up only about 20 percent of the population in big states like UP and Bihar. To win elections one needs more than 30 percent of the votes (one does not need 50 percent because the other parties are divided). So how to get this additional 10 percent is the main problem for the BJP.
In the 2017 UP Assembly elections this problem was solved by winning over many non Yadav OBCs, who had the grievance that Samajwadi Party helps only the Yadavas, and not other OBCs. (In UP about 40 percent of the population is OBC, and about 10 percent% are Yadavas). The BJP gave a lot of tickets to non Yadav OBCs, resulting in a landslide victory for the BJP. But the non Yadav OBCs are not a reliable BJP vote bank (like the upper castes are).
The only alternative left for the BJP is whipping up communal frenzy on a massive scale to get a section of the non upper caste Hindu vote. It was this gambit (the Babri Masjid – Ram Janma Bhumi agitation) that helped raise the BJP seats in the Lok Sabha from two in 1984 to 182 in 1999.
It has been argued that the Ram Janma Bhumi agitation has exhausted itself as a vote generator. I disagree. A move has been made to again whip up passions over the issue, and at any event there are other ways to stoke communal fires.
It must be remembered that secularism is a feature of an industrial society, but India is still semi-feudal, as evident from the rampant casteism and communalism still prevalent there. India’s constitution no doubt says that India is a secular republic, but the ground reality is quite different. The truth is that in India most Hindus are communal, as are most Muslims. Communalism is always latent in our society, only requiring some catalyst to bring it to the surface.
It is not difficult to incite communal passions in India. For instance, a miscreant can slaughter some cows and throw their carcasses in Hindu temples overnight, writing on the temple walls ‘Allaho Akbar.’ The next day communal riots will start.
So one can predict quite accurately that large-scale communal violence will start shortly in India (and of course Muslims will be at the receiving end). Dark days are ahead for the country.
As a Chinese adage says “High unpredictable winds and misfortunes are in the sky.”
[Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Supreme Court of India. The views expressed are his own]