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What would have prompted UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath to declare that if his state's electorate makes a mistake, the hard work of five years would go waste and UP would become like Kashmir, Kerala or Bengal? What is the message that Yogi intends to convey to the voters? Yogi cannot be deemed foolish enough to claim that UP is better than Kerala by any yardstick of social development. As Rahul Gandhi responded, his statement can be readonly as an insult to India's spirit of diversity. It is also a valid criticism that its content is a dangerous sectarianism that can evolve between states. Still the question remains: what is the point of a leader of a party like the BJP that represents frenzied nationalism issuing a statement challenging the integrity or unity of the country through a recorded video message in the climax of election campaign?

What Yogi Adityanath has haconveyed to every voter in Uttar Pradesh is not an exaggerated claim of UP's superiority. Nor is it a comparison of the growth in development of Uttar Pradesh. Instead, it is the hall-mark of racial hatred that the sangh parivar always uses as a prop on its path to power. It is a warning not to repeat the 'mistake' of Hindu-Muslim unity. If that is repeated, Yogi will fall from power. It may lead the present Uttar Pradesh to a social order which will afford an opportunity for all religious communities to partake of power. The statement is a mean politics of hatred at the last minute to cook up a Hindutva consciousness with anti-Muslim feeling, a feeling that has been sidelined by the people of UP where a wind of the peasant agitation and anti-incumbency sentiment is blowing. It is the latest shot fired to divide the peasantry, who had stood united without any religious or caste distinction against Yogi and the BJP. What the UP chief minister through his Twitter video was his last vicious tactic to destroy the atmosphere of friendship created by the Jat communities and peasant groups working together and in coordination at the grassroots level to combat anti-Muslim hatred.

Yogi Adityanath alias Ajay Mohan Singh Bisht, created the paths to power politics by combining a dark anti-Muslim plank and the image of a saint. The only miracle he performed while in power was to raise racism to new heights. And he made Uttar Pradesh the capital of Islamophobia. The main question asked by Home Minister Amit Shah during his election campaign in western UP was whether they have forgotten the Muzaffarnagar riots. Another statement from Yogi was that the election was a battle between 80 and 20, a reference to the population ratio of Hindus and Muslims in the state. Another major item in the BJP manifesto is that any Muslim youth attempting 'love jihad' will be sentenced to ten years in prison and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. In fact, the motive for Karnataka BJP to take the recent hijab issue to its current level with nation-wide attention is clearly its impact on the voting in UP. Its only because the sangh parivar narrative that Kerala is the hub of Muslim extremism and a state where Hindus are being killed has good currency in UP that Yogi feels emboldened to shamelessly spread a bogey among the UP population that the state will become another Kerala.

Certainly, the response made by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the state's Leader of the Opposition were a pointed shot at the hate politics of Yogi and reflecting the cordial relations prevailing in the state. This incident reminds us once again that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments are the only commodity the BJP can sell to the people. However, contemporary Kerala has proved in many ways that it has good sales potential here as well. For that very reason, Yogi's remarks that degrade Kerala would be fully answered only when it is backed up with a call not to consign Kerala to the mercy of Islamophobia like Yogi's UP. And if a determination to do that is displayed by Kerala, that would a charming model that the state can offer in these dark times of hatred.

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TAGS:Yogi AdityanathUP like KeralaPinarayi Vijayanpolitics of hatred
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