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In 2019, vote for BJP is vote for communal politics: author-activist Harsh Mander

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 11, 2019  | 18:53 IST

New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI) A significant part of the 31 per cent vote for the BJP in 2014 was for "development politics" but that is not true in 2019 when a vote for the party will essentially mean supporting its "communal politics", says social activist and author Harsh Mander. The author clarified that the BJP might not be the genesis of the existing communal hatred in the country but it did "legitimise, amplify and valorise" acts of violence. "It is more than clear that we are going through a phase of jobless growth, economy is going through a difficult situation, agrarian crisis has only deepened, crony capitalism continues to mount, and the rupee is not doing very good either. "So, now if someone continues to support PM Modi and his regime, there is no doubt that you are supporting him for his polarising communal politics and nothing else," Mander told PTI. Election 2019 kicked off Thursday with elections being held in 91 constituencies across 20 states. BJP's vote share in the last Lok Sabha elections was 31 per cent. It achieved an absolute majority with 282 seats out of 543, 166 more than the previous 15th Lok Sabha polls. "It is not just about the legitimization of the lynching of Muslims, minorities and the attacks on churches... these are also considered acts of valour," Mander, who recently came out with a new book titled "Partition of the Hearts", said. There were instances in the past five years, he added, where victims were made out to be criminals, and perpetrators were offered jobs and hailed as heroes. Ravin Sisodia, who was one of the accused in the Dadri lynching case where a 52-year-old man was lynched to death on suspicion of cow slaughter, was draped in the tricolour after he died in judicial custody, Mander pointed out. His fellow villagers claimed he deserved the honour because he had been martyred protecting "Hindu values". However, Mander asserted that voting out the present regime was not the ultimate solution. "The poison spread is very, very deep, and it will take a couple of generations to clean it out. "With the change of regime we would get the space to acknowledge the problem, but it won't in itself solve the problem," he said. As part of the Karwan-e-Mohabbat movement, Mander has been visiting families affected by hate violence across India since September 2017. He uses stories from these journeys in his book to show how hate speech, communal propaganda and vigilante violence have been mounting a fearsome climate of dread in the country. That hatred had been normalised in the day to day discourse, he noted, was evident in the ease with which people in present times aired their otherwise private "prejudices" on Whatsapp groups or other social gatherings. "The hatred that was perhaps rooted deep in our heart and soul has now found its release under this government. To use a metaphor, it is as if heroin of hatred has been injected into the veins of our society," he said. He recounted one such conversation on his IAS Whatsapp group right after the February 14 Pulwama attack. One member said human rights workers and judges who appealed and accepted respectively the plea against the use of pellet guns in Kashmir deserved to be in the bus that was blown up. "I told him I was one of the petitioners and that I qualified for his bus," Mander, a 1980 batch IAS officer who resigned in the wake of Gujarat riots in 2002, said. In his book, Mander takes the conversation on communal politics forward, while arguing that hate can indeed be fought, but only with solidarity, reconciliation and love, and when all of these are founded on fairness. Published by Penguin, the 235-page book "Partition of The Hearts" is priced at Rs 599. PTI MG TRS MIN MIN

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