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Those who teach democracy a lesson
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PTI photo.

It is said that elections are the foundation of democracy. But for some time in India, every election is an invitation to sectarianism and an attack on democracy. Campaigns for the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat now revolve around implausible freebies and communal polarization. Gujarat is witnessing explicit plans to capitalize on communal polarization just before the opening of the polling booths. The fact that the ruling party is at the forefront of promoting sectarianism increases its seriousness. Reports reveal that the electorate of the state, which had no particular wave, is again drawn into the embers of mutual mistrust and hatred as the speeches and announcements are made that contain insinuations targeting minorities.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah's speech, referring to the 2002 Gujarat Genocide, has become controversial. After Shah said that the attackers were taught a lesson that time and 'permanent peace' was established in Gujarat, what the BJP national president JP Nadda said was that an anti-terrorist cell would be formed. There is no point in asking how terrorism still remained if 'permanent peace' was achieved or how one could say 'permanent peace' has been achieved if anti-terrorism cells still remained. Our politicians are not hesitant to capitalise by vitiating the atmosphere just before the polls. The Uniform Civil Code has once again figured in the manifesto of the Gujarat BJP. There is also a 'promise' of making a law against damaging properties, which is supposed to deal with Patidar-tribal agitators: the new face of the state against protests. Assam Chief Minister Hemanta Biswa Sharma even used Rahul Gandhi's beard as a weapon of hatred. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is also on the scene with his usual tactics. His rally had the symbolic presence of bulldozers used to demolish houses unjustly in UP - another evil message of polarization. The call to eliminate the 'Aftabs', issued using the Shraddha murder case for communal propaganda, is no different. Those who have been observing the state point out that the absence of any notable development or welfare activities in Gujarat forces the ruling party to bring out old communal weapons. Those like Achyut Yagnik, Vidyut Joshi assess that there has been no sustainable development in Gujarat that could capture the people. Such polarizing efforts go beyond the heat and smoke of a state poll, creating tension and restlessness, and affect the free and democratic conduct of elections.

When the Union Home Minister tags the year 2002 to the claim that the attackers were suppressed and taught a lesson, it gives some serious hints. There are some who point out that this has confirmed the allegations that the 2002 Gujarat genocide was premeditated, that it was a conspiracy starting with the Godhra fire, and that the Modi government, which ruled the state at the time, deliberately delayed containing the violence. The other day, former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela raised this allegation again. Although this is an allegation rejected by the court, it is also pointed out that when the incident, which the Supreme Court at one point described as "Nero playing the fiddle", got described as "teaching a lesson" by the home minister, it leaves room for fresh doubts. Moreover, when the Election Commission had taken action in the past, even on the basis of even minor remarks, the Commission cannot remain indifferent in this regard. If the country has to hear the voice of sectarianism and anti-democratic views from the Union Home Minister himself on the eve of Constitution Day, November 26, it does not show loyalty to the Constitution and democracy.

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TAGS:JP NaddaSupreme CourtBJPAmit ShahYogi AdityanathUniform Civil CodeGujarat riots 2002Gujarat PollsShraddha murderanti-terrorism cellpoll campaignsectarianismpolarization
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