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The Citizenship amendment act of 2019 is another vicious attempt to change the demographics of India. The Act, along with upcoming National Register of citizens will successfully polarize the electorate and It is aimed to further consolidate the “Us” versus “Them” narrative.

The 2014 General Election was contested on the pro-development, Anti-Congress plank. Narendra Modi (then CM of Gujarat) was packaged as a messiah who would bring back the good days and will make India an economically, socially and culturally strong nation.

In the 2019 Elections, the development rhetoric was missing, simply because if they would have fought the election on the economy, development, and growth agendas, they would have lost hands down(BJP did not want to repeat the “Shining India” Vajpayee mistake).

So, a new narrative,“Nationalism”, which was built overtime came to their rescue.“Nationalism” was packaged in a manner that every voter started to believe that the country needs a strong man like Narendra Modi who would be able to protect the borders and fight terrorism. It was installed in everyone’s imagination that India is at the brink of foreign aggression and there will be a war in near future. Taking a cue fromVladimir Putin’s Nationalism rhetoric, the formula was set to create the “other”, the enemy of India, both inside and outside the country. Catchy phrases like “TukdeTukde Gang”, “Urban Naxals”, “intellectual terrorism”, “Khan Market Gang”, “Libtards”, etc started being used frequently, to establish another“Us” versus “Them” narrative. “Us” referred to those who unconditionally, unquestionably, truly, madly, deeply loved the Army, the country, its people, but only in a manner that BJP defined; and anyone and everyone who went against the government started to be understood as against the nation and hence was labelled as “Anti National”. This “Anti National” label helped the BJP further deviate the developmental agenda and bring unnecessary muscular nationalism into mainstream. An environment was created asthere was a war to happen and we must prepare for it, and of course, ONLY BJP and PM Modi could win us the war.

This government very intelligently enters into the personal affairs of every individual to make them understand that there is a government that is doing something. This government very intelligently forces everyone to participate in the execution of its policies. By entering into daily affairs of citizens, even an apolitical and ignorant person is forced to participate.

The first such experiment was “Demonetisation”. It was clearly a misadventure with the economy and the irrational economic exercise was packaged as a clean-up exercise that was aimed at detoxifying the economy from black money, terror financing and  was also aimed at punishing the rich and bring down inequality. The “poor” section of people who understood little of the policy and was otherwise ignorant and unwilling to know what government is doing (because he/she would otherwise focus on Roti, Kapda, Makaan) was also forced to que up.The act was branded as a patriotic exercise, a kind of sacrifice for the nation. The “poor”, started to believe that though they do not understand this, it seems bold and only a strong PM would be able to take such a pain inducing, painful exercise. The kind of optimism that Indians hold, we started to believe that since something is happening, something “good” only must be happening. The immediate result was a clear cut and historic majority to the BJP in the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP of today does not believe in conventional politics. It has mastered the art of distraction, misinformation and by forcing people to be directly involved into governments’ policy decisions, it has disguised itself as a government that is working for good. I am not sure if this kind of political squandering is limited to India or it has been tested elsewhere, but this surely is working well in India.

The event management styled government will come up with another massive exercise called National Register of Citizenship (NRC) which will ascertain who the real citizens of India is. The NRC will filter out the “ghuspaithia” and “deemak” (Illegal Immigrants and pests). Those Hindus, Sikh, Buddha, Jain, Pari, Christians declared as Ghuspaithia will be awarded citizenship through Constitutional Amendment Act 2019 and only Muslims will fail the citizenship test. The policy is purposely designed in a manner to make it another “Us” versus “Them” exercise, in order to further polarize and divide the society. While this exercise will come to play, the amount of polarization that it will bring with itself is unimaginable and unparalleled.

While the country is challenged with other pressing and real issues, this exercise is only a means to distract the citizens and to further divide the society. The NRC exercise may win BJP another election but will definitely prove to be the final nail in the coffin for India’s values of secularism, fraternity, equality, and unity in diversity.

Shariq Us Sabah is a Published Writer, Economist and is working as a Consultant with Government of India. The views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at shariqussabah@gmail.com


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