Tuesday October 16, 2018
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Over 200 Muslim BJP candidates win in Gujarat local body polls

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Ahmedabad: The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) may have been routed in rural areas in the local body elections in Gujarat, but in a silver lining over 200 party candidates from the Muslim community have won elections to municipalities, district panchayats and taluka panchayats.

“The total tally of the winners will go further up because we are yet to receive reports from all talukas and districts from where we had fielded Muslim candidates,” Sufi Mahbub Ali Chisty, chief of Gujarat BJP Minority Morcha told The Indian Express.

The BJP had fielded around 450 Muslim candidates in the local body polls. In 2010, as many as 160 Muslim candidates had won on the party tickets.

Chisty claimed that BJP’s Muslim candidates have been able to make a “big political dent” by wresting several seats, especially in rural areas, earlier represented by Muslims from Congress.

In Anand District’s Umreth Nagarapalika, for instance, all BJP candidates – three Muslims and five Hindus – secured victories in War No. 2 and 7, defeating Congress-NCP panel.

Aminabibi Malek, who was elected from Ward No 2 and has been with BJP for past 15 years, said, “Muslims in Umreth have voted BJP for development.”

Asif Zakaria (48), a share-broker who won from Gondal Nagarpalika in Rajkot district, said,

“Almost 60-65 per cent of Muslims voted for BJP candidates in Gondal because they benefited a lot in business and other activities in Gondal and nearby areas.”

“Congress only used Muslims as a vote-bank and gave us nothing in return. Congress promises of sops for Muslims were only on paper and never translated into action. This, in fact, created a wrong impression among the majority community about so-called Muslim appeasement by Congress. So, while Congress did not give any benefits, they also lost the support of Hindu liberals,” Zakaria said.

Chisty added, “Majority of Muslims were not comfortable with BJP due to various reasons, and voted for Congress only. This situation was exploited by Congress leaders who neither gave them any political benefit nor any share in development. But, the political scene has undergone a complete change in Gujarat with the emergence of a strong educated middle class, some with political ambitions. This was driving the Muslim youth, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas, to BJP to fulfill their political ambitions and work for the development of the community.”

Just 18 months after the BJP swept all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, the party has now been able to just manage to retain its urban sway, losing the rural swipe to the Congress, according to the final results to 323 local government bodies that were declared on Thursday.

Anandiben Patel’s litmus test as a chief minister, in what was termed a semi-final before the next assembly polls in 2017, turned out to be a disappointment for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The ruling BJP retained control of municipal corporations in all the six major cities of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar, but its victory margins fell.

The BJP bagged the 72-member Rajkot Corporation but managed only 38 seats as against 34 of the Congress. In 2010, the BJP won 49 and the Congress got 10 in the then house of 59.

In all, out of the total 572 corporation seats, the Congress won 175 seats in 2015, up from 103 in 2010.

Within cities, the BJP bagged 42 municipalites and the Congress 10, out of a total of 56 municipalities, leaving four for others. This is also five less than the earlier figure of 47.

The BJP lost its grip in the rural and semi-urban areas. The BJP government, which earlier controlled 30 of 31 district panchayats, retained only six. The Congress bagged 21 and the other parties four.

As for the 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats out of 190 the BJP had earlier, the party won 73 and the Congress in 132.

The most interesting aspect was that the Congress bagged the taluka and district panchayats of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s native village of Vadnagar, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s Visnagar and the No.2 in her cabinet, Health Minister Nitin Patel’s Kadi, which all figure in Mehsana district in north Gujarat, from where the Patidar reservation agitation began.

(With inputs from IANS)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)