RSS-BJP Bihar Campaign Includes Lesson On Harmful And Harmless Muslims

27/10/2015 3:49 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
PATNA, INDIA - OCTOBER 25: BJP supporters gather during an election rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid Bihar Assembly Elections, at Hazipur on October 25, 2015 in Patna, India. During the rally, Modi focused on Development as the only issue for the NDA in Bihar poll. Development, development and development is our poll issue and it also panacea of all diseases. He said that as soon as the BJP-led NDA government would come to power, he would ask the government here to form a committee to explore ways for industrial development in the state which would provide employment to the youths. (Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Campaigners for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the Bihar State election are tasked with informing voters about "five different kinds of Muslims" - Suryavanshi, Parchaiyya, Bangladeshi, Deshi and Shia - and then explain which of them pose a threat to the country.

"We are telling Hindus that some Muslims such as the Deshi and Suryavanshi are not aggressive. Their living style is similar to ours. Their women wear sarees," a campaigner told The Economic Times on the condition of anonymity.

"But those from western UP and other parts (parchaiyya) or Bangladeshis have done harm to the country before. The point is to make Hindus vote for the BJP that will keep them safe in the country," the campaigner said.

On Tuesday, ET reported that in a bid to boost the BJP's chances of winning the state polls, RSS is linking the election to Hindu self-esteem - "Hindu swabhimaan ka chunav."

This initiative, which targets Dalits, was reportedly finalised at meeting on Sunday evening, which was attended by several RSS senior leaders including Krishna Gopal and Dattatreya Hosbale.

RSS workers have been instructed to spread the message that a defeat for the BJP would be a blow to Hindu morale, and victory would keep them safe.

"We are telling people that for the first time a kanya pujan was held during Navratri in government buildings this year and that Gita is being read and celebrated everywhere. This is the first time our country is holding its head high in the world. A defeat in Bihar will destroy this self-respect," Subedar Singh, head of Dharm Jagran Manch in Patna, who is campaigning in Seemanchal, told the newspaper.

In Siwan and Kishanganj, RSS campaigners have asked voters to to swear by the cow that they will vote for BJP, ET reported.

Ashutosh Misra, a political scientist at Lucknow University, said that "detailing and deciphering Muslims" has been part of the discourse in the right-wing intelligentsia, but making subtle distinctions in the campaign field is "unusual and intriguing."

"It is very very strange to go to the masses with that kind of differentiation because a political campaign is always binary: goodies and baddies," he told HuffPost India.

One reason for making such a distinction could be the traditional close ties shared by Dalit-Hindus and poor Muslims in rural Bihar, which forces the RSS to have a more layered discourse.

Noting that caste faultlines in Bihar are far more potent than religious ones, Misra suggested that the BJP-RSS combine is "developing new material to negotiate this kind of hindrance."

"The kind of games they can play in Uttar Pradesh won't work in Bihar," he said.

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