Blinded by communal bile, BJP fails to read Bihar

Written by Mohammed Sajjad | Published on: November 26, 2015
alliance with Lalu.

The Left Front was the fourth front in the polls. The third front was comprised of the Samajwadi Party, the Jan Adhikar Party of Pappu Yadav and the NCP of Tariq Anwar-Sharad Pawar. During the course of the campaign, the electorate could make out that the third front was tacitly helping the BJP: Mulayam Singh Yadav’s utterances about the better prospects of the BJP in some of his speeches confirmed such a tacit understanding.

BJP fans communal flames to corner seats

No election campaign in Bihar has ever been as rabidly communalized as this one.  For someone occupying the PM’s chair, Modi stooped so low as to speak (at Buxar) that reservations could be given away to the “other community”. He also sought votes invoking his own cast, marking a new low for India’s democracy. There were 667 instances of communal skirmishes across Bihar after June 2013 (when Nitish broke away from the BJP alliance). “From throwing animal carcasses at places of worship to digging up buried issues, police records in Bihar have listed a variety of ways in which communal tension appears to have been deliberately kept on the boil ever since the BJP-JDU ruling coalition split on June 18, 2013.[vii]” In Muzaffarpur and the adjoining district of Tirhut, such occurrences, since September 2013, were particularly shocking and surprising. On September 19, 2013, the carcass of a pig was found inside an under-construction mosque in Bhanpur Brewa, a hamlet of Muslims and Dalits near Mahua in the district of Vaishali, which has the highest density (20.68%) of Dalits in north Bihar[viii]. On September 30, 2013, scores of Hindus and Muslims pelted stones at each other following an alleged incident of cow slaughter in the Yadav-dominated Chakmajahid, another village in the vicinity, where, on July 31, 2014, posters appeared on the wall of a mosque with this expletive-ridden line: “Kasai gai katna bandh karo (Butchers stop killing cows).” Incidentally, VHP leader Pravin Togadia was in Mahua, 5km from Chakmajahid, on May 28, 2015, to address a rally organized by the Gau Pushtikaran Sanghathan[ix]. A Sufi shrine, of Maulvi Shah Imaduddin at Chakmajahid, is venerated by both Hindus and Muslims. This may be an index of interfaith harmony in the locality, which was sought to be vitiated by communal forces. Earlier, there was tension on the issue of cow slaughter in Aba Bakarpur near Mahua.

Not far away from these villages, on January 18, 2015, in village Azizpur (near Saraiya in Muzaffarpur), in the assembly seat of Paroo (a segment of the Vaishali Lok Sabha seat) represented by the BJP MLA Ashok Singh, a ferocious riot broke out[x]. Locals, according to civil society group Samaaj Bachaao Aandolan (of Kashif Yunus, an advocate in the Patna high court and the great grandson of Md Yunus, 1884-1952, the first chief minister of Bihar), “Directly accused Singh for plotting this riot. The plot was planned on January 17 at the house of a local mukhiya belonging to the Mallah community. The house of the Paroo MLA is in the same panchayat to whom this mukhiya belongs. The mukhiya is an active Bajrang Dal leader. The MLA was the planner and this mukhiya was the executor.” A delegation of the civil society group visited Azizpur on January 21, 2015, and its efforts led to the registration of 22 FIRs.

It is in the fitness of things to recall this Mallah-Muslim riot in detail as in it lies the genesis of how AIMIM leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi finally landed in Bihar, though confining himself to eastern Bihar. This may also explain why the BJP fared less badly in Tirhut (including Champaran) and how the competition for winning over Mallah (Hindu fishermen) voters became sharper. This was long before the emergence of Mukesh Sahni--who made news as ‘son of Mallah’, though hardly any Mallahs knew him before the elections. Eventually, the Paroo assembly seat returned Ashok Singh for a third consecutive time. The RJD had given its ticket to Shankar Yadav. Locals say a good number of Dalits, and a