There is something called Hindu Mobilisation and this factor has helped in the rise of BJP, a party which had only two MPs in the 1980s. This Hindu mobilisation had brought Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister. In 2014, it was Narendra Modi. He hails from the western state of Gujarat.
Far off in the north east, at one time we knew very little about Gujarat. Even the riots of 2002 did not bother the Nagas. I believe that the so-called Hindu Mobilisation was possible largely due to the Temple movement in Ayodhya and later the riots of 2002. Today in 2024, the Prime Minister has just taken part in a mega religious event of the century on Monday, Jan 22nd. This happened four days before India’s Republic Day.
Should a Prime Minister in office do it in this blatant manner is one question, I would like to pose before the countrymen and women , never the less as the Head of the country l believe good sense will prevail and will treat all other religions equally. But the more important issue that bothers me is what happens to Christians and Muslims after Jan 22, 2024.
When I raise this question and my concern, I am aware Hindu Mobilisation is also linked to ‘religious minorities and Hindu castes’ management by the political parties. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar; two parties led by Late Mulayam Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav used to manage the Muslims and Yadav voters pretty well. Journalists called this ‘MY’ card.
The BJP faced problems in managing the conflict between upper caste Hindu groups and castes such as Yadavs and even Dalits. In UP, the Dalits went to former Chief Minister Ms Mayawati and her party.
These ‘community managements’ during election season is nothing new in India. In neighbouring Assam, parties such as AGP and Congress managed Hindu voters, Muslim voters and sometimes Bengali voters, Bihari voters and Assamese or native tribes and tea-garden workers. Often we get to hear interesting stories from friends in Assam.
I believe in the 1990s, the Congress base was shaken when the OBC and Dalit leadership backed Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and SP. of Akhilesh Yadav.
However, in 2019 and also in 2014 general elections, the BJP leaders used the card of “Hindu unity” and this has changed Indian politics.
After Jan 22, 2024, the BJP thinks the Hindu polarisation in its favour has been ensured and this will help in general elections. Good luck to them.
But how should Christians and Muslims now behave in an electoral sense in India? I am especially concerned about Muslims as my friends in this community say the common Muslims are now more scared of uncertainty than they used to be even three months back.
Christians have started developing another kind of fear. It is chiefly among Christians in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Kerala. It is mostly among Catholics as they know that the BJP will now be more aggressive against ‘conversions’.
In North East, Kukis have paid a big price in Manipur in the year 2023 also because Meiteis are generally Hindu majority ethnic group. Even if the conflict in Manipur was not a battle between Hindus and Christians, the treatment meted out to Kukis and Zo people is a matter of concern. Nagas also need to be worried because we have been very religious about our Christianity. I know our NPF party unit is with the BJP in Delhi and Imphal; and of course in Nagaland assembly, I have many friends and dear colleagues in the BJP.
Having said so, however, my advice is that now there is a need to shun the confrontation line against Hindu majority in mainstream India because this only provides oxygen to the Hindu fundamentalist forces. But when it comes to the issue of Christian-Hindu relationship in Nagaland, we must understand that tolerance is not a sign of weakness when it comes to safeguarding the rights of Naga Christians. Nagas have never bothered Muslims and Hindus when it comes to religious practices.
But my moot point is at the national level, regional parties in the northeast including the likes of NPF, NDPP, NPP, MNF and even AGP in Assam should think of drawing out a good plan to deal with the challenges that can come in the future.
It’s true that when non-BJP and non-Congress parties got together in the 1990s, the game could keep BJP out of power between May 1996 and April 1998; but the experiment was not good enough. Ultimately Late Vajpayee became India’s Prime Minister. That means the ‘1996 formula’ could sustain only for a few months. This issue therefore needs good planning and effective measures to safeguard the interests of Christians and even Muslims in India. As far as Ram Temple inauguration is concerned, I do congratulate Hindus as the matter relates to their faith. But non the less one should not try to mix Religion with politics .
NPF Legislature Party leader