It has been more than seventy years since the British left the subcontinent, but the divide and rule mentality and the hatred it left behind in its wake is still very much alive today, and showing its ugliest face. Communal riots broke out in Kolkata, West Bengal, after rival processions by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress marking the birth of the Hindu god Rama. Clashes in India between supporters of the two parties escalated into Hindu-Muslim rioting, with three people killed and dozens injured over two days of violence.
The past year has seen an increase in communal rioting, with the Ministry of Home Affairs, India reporting at least 111 people killed and 2,384 others injured in 822 communal incidents in the country in 2017.
The fact that the riots started off a political rivalry indicates how much parties in India have unfortunately taken a communal and racial colour. BJP’s divisional rhetoric may have earned itself a lot of right wing supporters, but it seems the party forgets the deep rooted effects of hate it has on the fragments of society. Modi’s fear mongering of Muslims is comparable to Trump’s racial politics, which has led to an increase in white nationalist violence.
Unfortunately, it is during communal riots that popular support for parties with hateful rhetoric go up. These riots leave behind a lot of communal hatred, which right-wing parties do not fail to exploit with more divisional politics, leaving us stuck in an endless loop. The communal riots in Muzafarngar, UP, in 2013, lead to an increase in BJP’s support and eventual win in 2014.
It is hoped that right-wing parties in India break this loop and do not exploit communal hatred for support or else there will be no people left to rule; there is no point in being the king of ashes.