Communal and ethnic riots in India have been there since independence. And over the years politicians and political parties have used such riots and conflicts as a political tool and to bring down the opposition. Some riots come to light while some don’t. The ones which come to light are often the ones which are used by the politicians to their gain and lure more voters.
Here are four pointers to help you understand how riots have been a political tool
1. The politicians use the ‘Communal’ factor to sow the seeds of violence:
When we hear the word communal riot, the first thing that comes to our minds is the tension between Hindus and Muslims. It’s a perceived notion that all the violence between Hindus and Muslims is because of the hatred and dislike between the 2 communities. But, there have been times when neither the Hindus nor Muslims have sparked the fire. It was just dirty politics which used this as a way to garner attention and votes. One such example is the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. While people across the country considered it to be another fit of rage between Hindus and Muslims, the Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya claimed to have been living in harmony for years.
There have been speculations of the RSS and VHP playing an active role in destroying the Masjid.
2. They are always hunting for small opportunities to spark communal violence:
Political parties and organisations seem to be on a lookout for opportunities to kick-start another public hype for political gains. Petty issues and small arguments are made huge and sensational by various political parties. Since the past few years, the state of Bihar has been witnessing more and more communal tensions. Bajrang Dal, an ardent supporter of Hindutva politics, has been always been involved directly or indirectly in any clash which involves Muslims. For instance, a petty issue which involved a Muslim boy killing a monkey was heightened to another level by the Bajrang Dal. This small issue was soon followed by a mob of angry protestors.This anti-Muslim notion is then cleverly used during elections to garner more supporters from the Hindu nationalism.
3. Ethno-religious conflicts boost political agenda:
Not only religious issues boost riots, but also ethno-linguist divisions leads to riots which provide a ground for the political parties to march on. For instance, in 1983 Nellie massacre. The ethnic violence took place between the Assamese and Bengalis over the controversial elections which took place despite the opposition’s decision to boycott it. The reason to boycott the elections was because the past elections were unfair as the electorate included many illegal immigrants. Polling booths were smashed down, people were killed and dispersed, and an appeal was made for the elections to stop because of the riots. But however, it declined by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. The Congress is said to have clearly used this situation to gain an advantage in the elections.
4. Riots before elections is an asset for the political parties:
Nothing is better than a small conflict or violence just before the elections. Like, in 2013, the riots in Muzzafarnagar grew hysterically violent, yet nothing was done for a long time. A minor brawl between two men giving rise to a riot seems a little passive, isn’t it?
The Supreme Court had held the then CM, Akhilesh Yadav, for not taking enough action and being negligent during the entire riots. Instead of making the situation better he indulged in the blame game. He blamed the BJP party so that he could bag some votes from the Hindu majority. The conflict was clearly more of an asset to the political parties while they blamed it on each other.
Can we still expect India to grow into being a Superpower, while it’s breaking from the inside? No, we can’t, unless, the people are willing to put their differences aside and stand together and the government focuses on developing the nation as a whole rather than just pleasing one particular group of people.