At a time when Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and other minorities are facing persecution in neighbouring Pakistan, Indian government enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) two years ago, that provided a pathway to Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are Hindus, Sikhs, Jain, Parsis or Christians and have arrived in India prior before the end of December, 2014. There were protests against the law by a section of Muslims at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for nearly two months.
In the run-up to the forthcoming UP assembly elections, All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, while addressing a public meeting this week, warned that if CAA and NRC (National Register of Citizens) were not scrapped, protesters will take to streets in UP and launch another Shaheen Bagh-type agitation.
On Tuesday in Kanpur, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath minced no words and threatened strict action against those who are trying to incite communal passion over CAA. Yogi Adityanath used the jibes ‘abba jaan’ and ‘chacha jaan’, and without naming Owaisi, said, “Prior to 2017, there used to be riots every third or fourth day in UP. I would like to warn the person who is once again trying to incite feelings in the name of CAA….I am asking followers of ‘chacha jaan’ and ‘abba jaan’ to listen carefully that if attempts are made to vitiate the atmosphere of the state by inciting feelings, the state government will deal with it strictly”.
Yogi added, “Everyone knows that he is inciting feelings as an agent of the Samajwadi Party. Now UP is not known for riots but as a riot-free state….Our government does not patronize mafias, it is a government that runs bulldozers on the chest of mafias”. This was in reference to demolition of properties owned by criminals.
The UP chief minister was addressing a convention of booth-level BJP leaders. This convention was also addressed by BJP president J P Nadda, who said the fight in the forthcoming elections in UP will be between nationalists and ‘Jinnahites’ (Jinnahwadi). Nadda was referring to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who had compared Jinnah as a freedom fighter along with Nehru, Patel and Gandhi.
On Tuesday, Owaisi was in Solapur, Maharashtra, where he told a public meeting that Muslims in India are being insulted by naming them as ‘Jinnahwadis’. Owaisi said, the reality is that all Muslims who stayed in India after Partition, had opposed Jinnah, and they considered India as their motherland. He asked Muslims to unite against those who were questioning their patriotism.
The political atmosphere in UP is bound to witness more heat as assembly polls approach nearer. Yogi Adityanath is a no-nonsense politician. Throughout his four and a half years tenure as chief minister of UP, he not only acted fast on major development projects, but also took exemplary action against all criminals and mafia gangs who were earlier being patronized by politicians. Criminals in UP have started fearing him.
Yogi’s government confiscated ill-gotten properties of criminal mafia gang leaders like Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed, who used to strike fear in the hearts of people of eastern UP. Since the day he took charge on March 19, 2017, Yogi Adityanath has been working on his mission to wipe out ‘mafia culture’. Illegal assets worth more than Rs 1000 crore belonging to more than 40 mafia leaders, including Mukhtar Ansari, Atiq Ahmed, Vijay Mishra, Sundar Bhati have been confiscated. Cases against nearly 800 gangsters and their close associated have been registered.
Yogi’s open warning to Owaisi over any attempt to create communal tension over CAA should be seen in this context. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had alleged that Owaisi was working as ‘B team’ of BJP in UP, but on Tuesday, Yogi clearly said, Owaisi is working as an agent of Samajwadi Party.
I personally feel, Owaisi is not working as any party’s A team or B team. His entry into UP politics has caused concern in Akhilesh Yadav’s camp because he can cause a severe dent into Muslim vote bank.
Most of the parties in UP, except BJP, have been projecting themselves as protectors of Muslims, but it is Owaisi who publicly punctures the claims of such parties. How can Rahul Gandhi tell Muslim voters that his party is running a coalition government with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra?
Owaisi is telling UP voters that it was BSP supremo Mayawati who ruled UP twice with BJP as its coalition partner. How can Akhilesh Yadav tell Muslim voters that it was Kalyan Singh who campaigned for SP during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, and his son Rajveer Singh had joined the Samajwadi Party? It is, in this backdrop, that Owaisi is moving around in UP, claiming that he is the sole protector of Muslims.
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