I watched in shock (and not awe) as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi happily facilitated the ascension of a Hindu extremist leader from the hinterlands of eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) to its throne. Perhaps it came as a shock to most of the people in India’s most populous state, especially those who had voted for HIM.
The election was fought, rather vociferously, on the facet of development. It could be rightfully argued that UP has been the epicenter of India’s developmental woes. With over 223 million people, it is almost half as big as the European Union, and the income per capita is not even one-tenth. Population density is high, over 820 people per square kilometer, a huge jump over the Indian average of 384 per square kilometer. Additionally, the fertility rate remains way above 3, meaning the population will continue to grow, and not stabilize anytime soon. A correlation with poor education can be instantly found (I will leave it to the readers to find that sorry figure). Most importantly, it houses India’s largest minority population in scores.
Now that I have established what UP entails, let’s come back to the title: symbolism. It would fair to assume that a large part of our democracy runs on it. Symbolism fuels the entire system. The saffron bandanas or green skull caps, this is what we were used to in the Congress-era politics. I believed Modi had changed this, with no, or barely any reference to Hindutva.
Perhaps where he rose above scum like Yogi Adityanath and Asadudin Owaisi was the focus on economy and speedy execution. But by entrusting a radical figure who evokes the same amount of grace that a figure like Raj Thackeray or an Azam Khan does, Modi has not done a great of justice.
It is quite possible that the Yogi will pull off a wonderful job. But will that aide harmonious living of the Indian peoples?
I guess it is wait and watch!