Just International

India: A New Beginning

By Samina Salim

Today was a typical morning of a hot summer in Houston. I woke up looking at the rays of the sun peeking through the window shades of my bedroom. As I usually do, I grabbed my phone to glance over the family WhatsApp group chat, which are usually a combination of family travel photos, invites, illnesses, a recipe or something of that nature, today the first message which caught my attention was a meme which said, “BJP losing Ayodhya is funny as hell and iconic, one for the history books”.  I knew exactly what this meant and immediately ran for my computer to log in to see the Indian election results.

I was blown away, the sophistication of the Indian electorate is remarkable, the voters may be poor and illiterate or semi-literate, but they cannot be fooled by hypothetical claims, dubious algorithms or coaxing of self-proclaimed messiahs. This is evident from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s loss in Faizabad which includes the temple town of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh (UP). UP is India’s most populous state, which holds a significant position in the Indian elections with 80 parliamentary seats. In 2014 and 2019, the BJP won 71 and 62 seats respectively but in the recent election, the BJP secured only 33 seats, with the most notable being its loss in the Faizabad constituency, where BJP had spent millions of dollars on construction of an opulent Ram temple on a site where 16th century Babri Mosque once stood. This result is particularly telling. It gives a simple message; hate is a burden that weighs people down. Sooner or later, this burden ought to drop, and it did. Ayodhya voted against Modi’s hate, and brought to the forefront real issues locals faced- poverty, housing, clean water, unemployment, illiteracy etc. What use is a grand temple when there is no food on the table? How can one pray on an empty stomach? How can hating Muslims solve any of the day-to-day problems of a common man? Modi’s hateful campaign targeting India’s 200 million Muslims by criminalizing, demonizing, and marginalizing them by openly professing anti-Muslim rhetoric has been thwarted.

Additionally and most significantly, the election results have busted the “Modi myth” which was a carefully crafted story romanticized to an extreme stretch; a long-bearded man of humble beginnings, dressed in a crisp attire sitting with a peacock in a pensive mood in almost an academic solitude, a chaiwala (a tea seller), a monk, incorruptible, an environmentalist, a visionary, a super diplomat- everything that he is not. In fact, he was barred from entry into the US for his role in Gujarat pogrom against Muslims, but the BJP fought every election in his name using the personality cult they had crafted for him. Modi himself seemed almost consumed in this delusional narrative to the extent that he had started professing himself as a messiah, a divine reincarnation who was sent to serve as the savior of India. If anything, Mr. Modi should be humbled by the election results. As an Indian Muslim American I feel cautiously excited about the future of India, finally an end to the authoritarianism, and vigilantism seems near. India is too incredible to be consumed by the parochial designs of self-consumed fanatics.

Samina Salim, Associate Professor Department of Pharmacological & Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston

8 June 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

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