I do not know enough. I am not a political analyst, a commentator or even an expert. I am an Indian Muslim, living with anxiety - day in and day out, and yesterday’s election results cemented that feeling for months (or tragically years) to come.
I spent 24 years in India, before moving abroad for education. In those years, there are certain truths that I have consistently heard from within my minority community. The idea that Indian Muslims have perennially been denied opportunities and that majority of Indians hold averse views of their Muslim counterparts.
As I grew up, I routinely objected to these arguments, with my family, relatives and anyone who used this as an excuse for their lack of hard work and determination to prosper in life. “At some point, you have to stop blaming the past, own your life and move on,” my younger self would argue with the relatives.
I’ve had friends, teachers, and mentors all from diverse religions, through school and college that have guided me better than family. They’ve helped me find answers in trickiest of spots, lend me confidence and strength to walk into the unknowns and climb higher mountains. My parents have close friends from different communities, friends who spend Eid and Diwali together, families who supported us when my father went through his illness. Our house is in a Sikh neighbourhood, and after spending almost three decades there, my mother can speak in Punjabi better than her neighbours.
At no point in my life did I feel that being an Indian Muslim would be a problem to such a circle that my parents and I had built. Until Modi rose to power. Since 2014, my parents have had their closest friends turn into Modi bhakts, normalising the ills that have been committed under his watch.
Sitting in our living room, while having Eid sewai, they’ve called themselves Chowkidaars and laughed at our discomfort. “If not Modi, then who?”, has been their argument, when we raise questions at the mob mentality that BJP has let loose on the streets, on television, within our friends. Every single time I have gone back to meet some friends of my father, it has been a haunting realisation that no amount of information and reality checks, can clear their minds of the poison that the BJP has injected in their minds.
For them, Modi is the dawn of a new era for India. A dawn that spells doom for countless other Indians, who do not subscribe to this fascist ideology. “That is the cost of development. What did Rajiv Gandhi do for this country? What did Sonia Gandhi do for this country?”, my father’s office friend writes to him on WhatsApp.
He writes it in a manner that opposes their sense of inclusivity that they’ve shown all their life towards our family. He writes without questioning his own fatigue with the corruption and lack of conscience that this government has shown. He writes to simply outsource his ambition to someone who claims to be the shepherd of all Indians’ dreams and aspirations. That someone does not include, Indians like my family. Indians like me, who are equal in every sense of the word that the Constitution of this country prescribes us.
To all my parents’ friends who are celebrating the victory of BJP, this is the defeat of India. An India that you and my parents have spent all their lives in. Your myopia, insecurity and deep-seated bigotry have finally emerged clear and stronger in the 2019 mandate. Do not for once assume that this government is a government for all. It is for a selected few and it shall slowly trample anyone who raises their voice against it, including you.
India openly declared itself a republic of hate, and each and everyone who voted for Modi is an accomplice in it.