Bihar: How BJP is pushing Hindutva, anti-Nitish narratives after Ram Navami clashes

Bihar: How BJP is pushing Hindutva, anti-Nitish narratives after Ram Navami clashes

The BJP has scaled up its efforts to revive its Hindutva politics in Bihar and corner Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for allegedly pursuing ‘appeasement politics’ after the recent communal flare-ups in the state.

The violence had erupted in Biharsharif and Sasaram during the Ram Navami processions on March 31.

Communal clashes set the tone

After a long gap, Bihar witnessed communal violence on such a large scale, giving a handle to the BJP to revive its Hindutva politics in the caste-ridden state, commented a political analyst on the condition of anonymity.

The BJP’s strategy in Bihar became more evident when Union Home Minister Amit Shah boisterously remarked in Nawada that rioters would be hung upside down if the saffron party formed government in the state. With Nitish no longer an ally, the BJP finds it irresistible to project him as a chief minister who failed to contain the communal violence due to his appeasement politics, the political analyst said.

Also read: Bihar riots were orchestrated, culprits will be exposed soon: Nitish

Nitish Kumar has never been known for the leadership that his counterparts in BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Assam are identified with. But it is also an undeniable fact that the BJP’s so-called strong leadership has its own appeal and a section of people in Bihar are also strongly in favour of it, commented political analyst Indrajit Singh.

Clamour for ‘Yogi model’

It is believed that BJP gained an electoral advantage in the last Uttar Pradesh Assembly election by projecting the ‘strong’ leadership of the state`s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his ‘bulldozer’ model.

“The BJP has somewhat succeeded in creating a strong leadership narrative in its favour as one can see how the gang lords of Uttar Pradesh, most recently Atique Ahmed, are being dealt with,”  Singh added.

BJP leaders in Bihar are also demanding that the ‘Yogi model’ should be used against rioters and lawbreakers.

Hindutva in Bihar

BJP’s Hindutva politics has so far not been able to create ripples in Bihar in the same way as it has been seen in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. The recent communal flare-ups have given the BJP a  chance to create hype on Hindutva and also make an attempt to bolster its prospects for the 2024 Lok Sabha election as well as the 2025 Bihar Assembly elections.

Also read: Ram Navami | Bihar rioters will be ‘hung upside down’ if BJP comes to power: Amit Shah

Political analyst Pushya Mitra said that the BJP had given its best performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by winning 17 out of total 17 seats. Faced with a strong opponent like the RJD-led grand alliance and somewhat anti-incumbency that is likely to be confronted by the Narendra Modi government after 10 years of rule, the BJP may try hard to play its Hindutva card to woo voters in the state.

“The BJP is making consistent efforts to bring as many people as possible under the influence of its Hindutva politics and there is no doubt, the saffron party is also succeeding in its efforts,” he added.

Mitra said the BJP is also trying to create an impression that Hindus are not safe in Bihar ever since Nitish formed a new government with the grand alliance. “Nitish is facing a sort of ‘Agni Pariksha’ as the BJP is not only trying to revive its Hindutva narrative but also making an attempt to paint him as a chief minister who is unable to govern the state,” he added.

Caste politics vs Hindu nationalism

Noted academician Dr Nawal Kishore Choudhary said that BJP would definitely try to revive its Hindutva politics aggressively after the communal flare-ups in Biharsharif and Sasaram. He, however, said that the saffron party would be able to achieve only ‘limited’ success in Bihar as the state is mainly driven by caste politics.

Political analyst Dr Sanjay Kumar said that the grand alliance unwittingly is helping the BJP polarise Hindu votes. He cited the example of the rally the grand alliance held in Purnea in response to an earlier one held by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the same venue, just after Nitish snapped ties with the BJP last year.

“If the grand alliance continues to retaliate against BJP in a similar fashion, it would ultimately help the saffron party,” Dr Kumar noted.

He said that the communal flare-ups in Biharsharif and Sasarm will help BJP in reviving its Hindutva politics but it will depend on the future circumstances.

Political observer Praveen Bagi said that BJP links a Hindu festival with nationalism and Bihar will also not remain insulated from it. He said that people cutting across all castes celebrated Ram Navami together in Bihar with remarkable vigour this year, showing how the BJP succeeded in linking a Hindu festival with nationalism and uniting all Hindus irrespective of their castes. “The BJP will be making an attempt to play its Hindutva politics as aggressively as possible and there is also a chance that it will gain electorally by doing so,” he added.

Nitish and his ‘appeasement’ politics

The BJP has intensified its attack on Nitish ever since the communal violence in Bihar, trying to create an impression that Hindus are being harassed and atrocities are being committed against them.

Former Bihar deputy chief minister and BJP vice-president Sushil Kumar Modi, once a close associate of Nitish, has also accused the chief minister of hounding ‘Ram Bhaktas’ against whom the conspiracy was hatched by members of a particular community. He also dared Nitish to order a judicial inquiry into the riots. “Nitish is dreaming about becoming Prime Minister of the country by persecuting Ram Bhaktas,” Modi snapped.

Also read: Two Bihar towns witness communal tensions post-Ram Navami

The communal violence also exposed chinks in the much-trumpeted ‘sushashan’ (good governance) model of the Nitish government as the chief minister, to an extent, is the ultimate custodian of the state and is responsible for communal harmony, commented a political analyst on the condition of anonymity. “We should not forget Nitish is also holding the charge of home department,” he added.

Political analyst Dr Kumar questioned why the government, which usually has prior intelligence about possible communal clashes from intelligence agencies, gave permission for the Ram Navami processions.

“Why the administration gave permission to take out Ram Navami processions when it was not sure whether these would pass peacefully. Since Nitish is in power, he cannot escape from taking responsibility,” he added.

Dr Kumar also wondered why the central paramilitary forces were not rushed to the riot-torn areas in Sasaram and Biharsharif on time.

‘Chinks in Nitish’s governance’

Bagi said that the administrative weakness of the grand alliance government had been exposed due to the communal violence in the state. He said that Nitish’s USP has always been his ability to maintain communal peace in the state, but his credibility on this count has suffered following recent incidents.

The BJP’s attack on Nitish over his alleged appeasement politics only increased after he attended an Iftar party, hosted by the Islamia Group of Institutions at Phulwarisharif in the state capital.

Union Minister and BJP’s firebrand leader Giriraj Singh even went to the extent of claiming that Nitish wanted to convert Bihar into an Islamic State for the sake of votes.

Reacting sharply to BJP’s allegations, former minister and JD(U)’s chief spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said that it was not Nitish and his party but the BJP which was indulging in appeasement politics to polarise Hindus in its favour.

Also read: Amit Shah targets Nitish at rally in Bihar; says BJP’s doors forever shut for JD(U) chief

He said that Amit Shah had even falsely claimed that people were being killed, bullets being fired and tear gas shells being lobbed in Sasaram, leading to the cancellation of his programme there. Kumar said Shah should produce evidence to support such “outrageous” claims.

He said Shah even spoke directly to the governor to know about the situation in the state, giving scant respect to the fact that it would amount to attacking the country’s federal structure.

Read More
Next Story