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January 16, 2018

India: AIFRTE Press Statement condemning the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook by ABVP student against Prof. K. Laxminarayana

All India Forum for Right to Education

16 Jan 2018

AIFRTE Press Statement condemning the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook by ABVP student against Prof. K. Laxminarayana, 
University of Hyderabad, and the partisan and criminal inaction of the University authorities


AIFRTE strongly condemns the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook to senior Prof. K. Laxminarayana of the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad by a student, Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya belonging to the ABVP, at the Department of History of the same university. Claiming to be a critique of an examination paper set by Prof. Laxminarayana for the elective option Economics of Education, the intemperate response of the ABVP student in fact targets a specific question on the impact of 'privatization and saffronization’ on higher education.

However, there is more to the highly politically motivated reaction of this student. Prof. Laxminarayana had published a critical analysis of the Justice Roopanwal Commision set up by MHRD to enquire into the circumstances leading to the 'suicide’ of Dalit Ph.D scholar Rohith Vemula [Why Justice Roopanwal’s Report is a Travesty? Economic & Political Weekly, vol. 52, issue no. 46, 18th November 2017]. Vemula’s `suicide’ had set off a nation-wide protest and resistance against what was widely perceived as an institutional failure to prevent social discrimination against Dalit research scholars, to address their genuine academic grievances and to prevent rank insensitivity and negligence such as not releasing scholarships for months on end to scholars from very deprived sections of society. In fact, the Supreme Court had asked universities to immediately enquire into the causes of the high number of suicides of students from these sections.

Prof. Laxminarayana’s article clearly showed the role of Susheel Kumar, (an ABVP student who posted abusive social media messages branding Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) members as 'anti-nationals’ and 'goons’ while accusing them of assaulting him), of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP)  MLC Ramachandra Rao, and Central Ministers Smriti Irani and Dattareya in pressurizing the Vice- Chancellor and University authorities to reverse the original findings of the proctorial board and instead expel six Dalit scholars from the hostel. This expulsion was widely seen as a form of 'social exclusion’ routinely experienced by Dalits in villages. Consequently the expelled students referred to the open area they occupied as velivada, the traditional name for the excluded zone earmarked for Dalits.

The Justice Roopanwal Commision, as Prof. Laxminarayana’s article forcefully argues, was “appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) . . . when Rohith’s aggrieved friends lodged a case under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act which was pending against the then HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, BJP minister Bandaru Dattareya and other prominent BJP functionaries and the Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile. Second, the Commission had no Dalit member in spite of it being mandatory to look into the facts surrounding the death of a Dalit scholar...”
It looked at no fresh or countervailing evidence, ignored the original proctorial report which recommended moderate disciplinary action against both sides, as also the medical reports that gave no evidence of ABVP’s Susheel Kumar either having been assaulted or injured as he claimed. The Commission’s Report merely repeated the conclusions arrived at by inquiries of subsequent committees which had been instigated by intense pressure from BJP leaders and ministers.
Further, the Report, as Prof. Laxminarayan’s article points out, far exceeded its mandate in taking up an issue that could only be examined by the revenue department and not in civil court, i.e. the caste status of Rohith Vemula. In concluding that Rohith was a non-Dalit, the Roopanwal Commission’s Report was therefore both “illegal and unethical”. From the age of three years, Rohith was raised along with his siblings by his Dalit mother on her meager earnings as a domestic help, as her OBC husband had deserted her because of her caste status.
However, the Report `saved’ the BJP ministers and members, and the University’s V.C. and other officials from prosecution under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Against this background, the abusive facebook entry acquires a menacing aspect. We have seen how the Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva groups, of which ABVP is a prominent presence within the institutions of higher education, have politically, ideologically and even physically targeted intellectuals and scholars who hold different views which are secular, constitutional and democratic. In an earlier case of use of abusive language on a poster of Dr. Ambedkar, the enquiry committee had felt it necessary to suspend a student for one-and-a-half years as this use of uncivilized language by the ABVP is sought to be made a regular form of assault and public humiliation against any persons who oppose their ideology and misconduct on the campus.
As a faculty member, as a member of the University’s Executive Council and as former President of the Hyderabad University’s Teachers Association, Prof. Laxminarayana’s contribution to the development of the University is well-established. As such, we are shocked that the University has failed to respond to or take any action on his complaint which was submitted to the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Proctor on 30th November 2017.
As an active member of the Save Education Committee of united Andhra Pradesh and as the current Organizing Secretary of the Save Education Committee of Telangana, and as member of the National Executive of the AIFRTE, Prof. Laxminarayana is also a leading figure in the all-India education movement. Scholars like Prof. Laxminarayana, who promote and advance democratic struggles for social justice, have been viciously targeted by the Hindutva forces. As such we take this intellectual and personal threat to Prof. Laxminarayana with all the seriousness that it deserves.
AIFRTE demands that
  • Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya, Ph.D student of the Department of History, University of Hyderabad, be suspended immediately for abusing, seeking to defame and humiliate a senior Professor of the University of Hyderabad;
  • Authorities should conduct an enquiry as per University policy and rules to decide the quantum of punishment that Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya should receive;
  • University should explain why no action was taken against Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya following the offence and even after receiving the representation of Prof. K. Laxminarayana on 30th November 2017; 
  • Criminal proceedings should be initiated against Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya for seeking to promote ill-will, enmity and hatred towards Prof. Laxminarayana with a view to threatening his life and liberty.

 AIFRTE Presidium
Dr. Meher EngineerChairperson, AIFRTE; Ex-President, Indian Academy of Social Science; Kolkata,
Prof. Wasi Ahmed, Bihar, Former Joint Secretary, AIFUCTO; Patna
Sri Prabhakar Arade, Maharashtra, President, AIFETO; Kolhapur
Prof. G. Haragopal, Telangana, Visiting Professor, NLSIU, Bengaluru
Prof. Madhu Prasad, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of Philosophy, Zakir Husain College, Delhi University
Prof. K. Chakradhar Rao, Telangana, Dept. of Economics, Osmania University, Hyderabad
Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Madhya Pradesh, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University; Bhopal
Prof. K. M. Shrimali, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of History, Delhi University
Dr. Anand Teltumbde, Goa, Senior Professor, Goa Institute of Management

India: Times of India Editorial on proposed bill criminalising triple talaq

The Times of India

Talaq isn’t the problem: Many women are happy to break free from marriage
January 6, 2018
  in TOI Editorials | Edit Page, India | TOI

January 15, 2018

India - Rajasthan: ‘Love jihad’ cover for Shambulal Regar ties with ‘Hindu sister’

The Indian Express

Rajsamand chargesheet: ‘Love jihad’ cover for Shambulal Regar ties with ‘Hindu sister’
The chargesheet says that Regar may have raised the whole ‘love jihad’ claim to cover the real motive behind the murder.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur | Updated: January 15, 2018

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/rajsamand-chargesheet-afrazul-khan-murder-love-jihad-cover-for-regar-ties-with-hindu-sister-5024853/

Does BJP’s Intend to Change Indian Constitution? Ram Puniyani

BJP, which believes in Hindu nationalism, faces the dilemma about Indian Constitution. Necessarily it has to pay its obeisance to Indian Constitution for electoral purpose to be sure. It has to seek votes of all sections of society including dalits and other marginalized sections of society for whom this Constitution is a liberator. At present, BJP’s electoral strength is not adequate for changing the Constitution, so it cannot talk openly about the same. In addition Constitution has also emotive values for large sections of dalits, who regard it as a greatest contribution of Babsaheb Ambedkar in the direction of social change. In this light to statement of Anantkumar Hegde, the Union Minster, that BJP is in power to change the Constitution may not have matched with the overall strategy of BJP, which is to get 2/3 majority first before talking on this. Mr. Hegde, while speaking in the meeting of Brahman Yuva Parishat said “I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu. But trouble will arise if they say they are secular.” And also that BJP is there to change the Constitution. Later when criticized in the Lok Sabha for his statement, he tried to circumvent his statement by saying that “if someone was hurt by his remarks about changing the Constitution and about secularism, he had no hesitation in tendering his apology.”
Surely BJP’s intentions have to be understood and his apology is purely strategic. BJP as a party has to work within the confines of Constitution as it has to swear by it legally. Still when BJP led NDA Government came to power in 1998, it did appoint Venkatchaliah Commission to review the Constitution; probably that was the first open and subtle ‘statement of purpose’ from its side. It’s another matter that seeing the total opposition to its move of reviewing Constitution from large sections of society, the Commission report was dumped.
After Modi led NDA Government came to power (2014), on the occasion of Republic day 2015, it issued and advertisement with the preamble of Constitution in which words Secular and Socialist were missing. In November 2017 Yogi Adityanath stated that word secularism is biggest lie in India.
The BJP will not reveal its deeper agenda so easily at present. Still it can be understood that BJP is not comfortable with the present Constitution and laws be it the one’s related to Article 370 (Kashmir), Article 25 (freedom of religion), article 30 (about minorities setting up educational institutions). As BJP is a part of RSS combine, one has to look at what RSS ideologues state, what its associates like VHP and others say on the issue. These organizations have times and again articulated their opposition to Indian Constitution and their goal of making the one based on Holy Indian scriptures.
As such the whole attempt of Hindu nationalist political formations is to try to pave the way for Hindu nationalism by using the democratic secular space which the present Constitution gives.

RSS ideologue Golwalkar in his writings like ‘Bunch Of Thoughts’ argues that territorial nationalism, which is the basis of Indian Constitution, is a barbarism, since according to him a nation is ‘not a mere bundle of political and economic rights’ but an embodiment of national culture —in India, ‘ancient and sublime’ Hinduism. It sneers at democracy, which Golwalkar sees as alien to Hindu culture, and lavishes praise on the Code of Manu, whom Golwalkar salutes as ‘the first, the greatest, and the wisest lawgiver of mankind’.

When the Constituent Assembly of India passed the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949, RSS was not happy. Its organ, Organiser in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained: "But in our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing."

VD Savarkar has been the major ideologue from whom most of the Hindu nationalists draw their inspiration. He argued: "Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law."

Deendayal Upadhayay has been another major ideologue of RSS combine. He was part of Bharatiya Janasangh, previous avatar of BJP. He says that India had written a Constitution imitative of the West, divorced from any real connection to our mode of life and from authentically Indian ideas about the relationship between the individual and society.

Like previous ideologues Upadhyay also felt that the Constitution should embody a Hindu political philosophy befitting an ancient nation like Bharat, that of reducing the Indian national idea to a territory and the people on it was fallacious. According to him the nationalist movement, from the Khilafat agitation onwards, has turned towards a policy of appeasement of the Muslim community, a policy in turn sought to be justified by the need to forge a united front against the British.

He was all through critical of Indian Constitution, as he argued his case for Hindu nation. His ideology seems to be one of the major inspirations for present leadership of BJP. BJP’s discomfort with articles 25, 30 and 370 etc. is mainly as these articles aim at affirmative action in a plural diverse society. These draw from the basic notion of Equality inherent in Indian constitution. Most of the ideologues, the source of BJP ideology uphold Manusmririti, no wonder this was the precise book which architect of Indian Constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar consigned to the flames!

India: Compulsory Sanskrit prayers at Kendriya Vidyalayas prompt a Jabalpur lawyer to move Supreme Court

scroll.in, 15 January 2017

educational politics
Why Sanskrit prayers at Kendriya Vidyalayas have prompted a Jabalpur lawyer to move Supreme Court
Vinayak Shah’s petition has argued that the compulsory prayer ‘based on Hindu religion’ violates the Constitution.

by Shreya Roy Chowdhury

A teacher at a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh thinks that the compulsory singing of Sanskrit hymn Asato Ma Sadgamaya at the school assembly every morning strangles the spirit of scientific inquiry and stunts the intellect of school students.

As an employee of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, the organisation that oversees the functioning of a number of schools run by the central government, the teacher was not permitted to file a case in public interest, so a friend and fellow atheist, Vinayak Shah, a Jabalpur-based lawyer, has taken the Sangathan to the Supreme Court. The teacher has requested to not be identified for the same reason he could not file the case. The Sangathan comes under the jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and runs over 1,000 schools across India.

Shah, 42, is a member of Ambedkarite group, Backward and Minority Community Employees’ Federation. He has challenged the revised “education code” for all Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan schools. This set of regulations, compiled in 2012 and implemented from 2013, requires morning assemblies to begin with the Sanskrit verse as a “common prayer” and end with another Sanskrit hymn: Om Saha Navavatu or May God Protect Us Both.

The Sanskrit hymns have been sung for decades in the Kendriya Vidyalayas, and indeed in a large number of government schools across states. A Hindi prayer that is recited after Asato Ma Sadgamaya is a longstanding Kendriya Vidyalaya tradition too.

The petition argues that these hymns are “based on Hindu religion”, their compulsory chanting amounts to “religious instruction”, and that this violates Article 28 of the Constitution, which says: “No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.”

The petition, filed in December, also says the practice “creates a lot of obstacles in developing a scientific temperament”. It adds: “Students…develop an inclination towards seeking refuge from the Almighty instead of developing a practical outcome towards the obstacles and hurdles faced in everyday life and spirit of enquiry and reform seems to be lost.”

On January 10, the Supreme Court issued notices to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and the Union government, asking them to respond to the petition.

‘Constitutionally impermissible’

The first objection to the prayers raised in the petition is that all students irrespective of their faith and belief have to perform it in a respectful manner “by closing their eyes and folding their hands”. The petition translates and partially annotates the first prayer, Asato Ma Sadgamaya, thus:

“Om, (O Lord) Keep me not in the unreality (of the bondage of the phenomenal world), but lead me towards the reality (of the Eternal Self) / (O Lord) Keep me not in the Darkness (of ignorance), / but lead me towards the light (of spiritual knowledge), / (O Lord) Keep me not in the (fear of) death (due to the bondage of the mortal world), but lead me towards the immortality (gained by the knowledge of the immortal self beyond death), Om, (May there be) peace, peace, peace (at the three levels – Adidaivika, Adibhautika and Adhyatmika)”

The second hymn, as well as the prayer in Hindi, both invoke god.

The petition argues that “parents and children of the minority communities as well as atheist[s] and others who do not agree with this system of prayer such as agnostics, sceptic[s], rationalists and others would find the imposition of this prayer constitutionally impermissible”. It cites the Oxford Dictionary’s definitions for these terms.

Shah has challenged the practice also on the grounds that it violates the citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression and to “profess, practise and propagate religion”.
‘Am an atheist’

Asked how he got involved in the case, Shah stated: “Basically, I am an atheist.” He was not always one. Till about 2012, Shah said he was “very dharmic”, or religious. This was despite his long association with various Left groups from his student days in the 1990s.

Shah studied in Dr Harisingh Gour University, also called Sagar University after the Madhya Pradesh district. He earned a bachelor’s degree in science in 1999 and joined the bachelor of laws programme in 2000. All the while, he was associated with two Left groups – the Socialist Unity Centre of India and its affiliated students’ group, the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation, as well as the Communist Party of India and its students’ wing, the All India Students’ Federation. He was a member of the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation and even held a post in the organisation’s Sagar district branch over 2001-’03. This is where he met the teacher, a member of the group, whose experience at a Kendriya Vidyalaya years later would lead to the petition.

Shah moved to Jabalpur to practice law in 2003, stayed in touch with his comrades in Sagar but ceased to be actively involved in the organisation. He started representing government school teachers in court on cases related to their pay, promotions and other rights. He also worshipped daily and acquired a guru with an ashram in Mehrauli, Delhi.

Over 2011-’12, another lawyer introduced him to a number of social media groups run by Ambedkarites, including one maintained by Bamcef, an organisation founded by Kanshi Ram who later founded the Bahujan Samaj Party. “Discussions with these groups got me thinking about my beliefs,” said Shah, who belongs to one of the Other Backward Classes. “I was asked if any god worked toward the uplift of Dalits and backward classes and why gods tell us to wait till after we die and not do anything about our misery now,” he said.

By 2012, Shah was done with god and religion.

But it would be another two years before he would join any of the groups that had had such profound influence upon him. In 2014, he joined Bamcef’s lawyer’s wing and started working on their campaigns on reservation for backward groups.

Two teachers

In 2015, Shah’s college friend, till then a teacher in state government schools, landed a job as a primary teacher in a Sagar central school. The compulsory training he underwent before joining brought him to Jabalpur, introduced him, an atheist and rationalist, to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan’s education code, and reunited him with Shah.

The teacher started rebelling almost instantly, first by refusing to stand when senior teachers and officials entered the training venue at Jabalpur and then by not joining them in prayer. Later, at his own school in Sagar, said Shah, “He started teaching children to question everything they are taught and refused to enforce the prayer rules even after the principal told him to.” To him, Shah added, “The prayers were a waste of time.”

In February, his attempts to stop a Saraswati puja – Saraswati is the Hindu deity for wisdom – on the school premises led to a show-cause notice to which he replied, but eventually did not face any punitive action. “He had removed the idol from the table and put it away,” said Shah. “He has been talking about taking the matter to court for a long time. He has discussed it also with a professor in [Dr Harisingh Gour] Sagar University and the two asked me to help.”

In late 2017, he and Shah demanded answers citing the Right to Information Act. “We had asked the Sangathan on whose orders idols and photographs of the deity were being placed and they said there were not orders,” said Shah. By October, the teachers and Shah decided to file the Public Interest Litigation.

Does BJP intend to Change Indian Constitution?


Does BJP’s Intend to Change Indian Constitution? Ram Puniyani BJP, which believes in Hindu nationalism, faces the dilemma about Indian Constitution. Necessarily it has to pay its obeisance to Indian Constitution for electoral purpose to be sure. It has to seek votes of all sections of society including dalits and other marginalized sections of society for whom this Constitution is a liberator. At present, BJP’s electoral strength is not adequate for changing the Constitution, so it cannot talk openly about the same. In addition Constitution has also emotive values for large sections of dalits, who regard it as a greatest contribution of Babsaheb Ambedkar in the direction of social change. In this light to statement of Anantkumar Hegde, the Union Minster, that BJP is in power to change the Constitution may not have matched with the overall strategy of BJP, which is to get 2/3 majority first before talking on this. Mr. Hegde, while speaking in the meeting of Brahman Yuva Parishat said “I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu. But trouble will arise if they say they are secular.” And also that BJP is there to change the Constitution. Later when criticized in the Lok Sabha for his statement, he tried to circumvent his statement by saying that “if someone was hurt by his remarks about changing the Constitution and about secularism, he had no hesitation in tendering his apology.” Surely BJP’s intentions have to be understood and his apology is purely strategic. BJP as a party has to work within the confines of Constitution as it has to swear by it legally. Still when BJP led NDA Government came to power in 1998, it did appoint Venkatchaliah Commission to review the Constitution; probably that was the first open and subtle ‘statement of purpose’ from its side. It’s another matter that seeing the total opposition to its move of reviewing Constitution from large sections of society, the Commission report was dumped. After Modi led NDA Government came to power (2014), on the occasion of Republic day 2015, it issued and advertisement with the preamble of Constitution in which words Secular and Socialist were missing. In November 2017 Yogi Adityanath stated that word secularism is biggest lie in India.’ The BJP will not reveal its deeper agenda so easily at present. Still it can be understood that BJP is not comfortable with the present Constitution and laws be it the one’s related to Article 370 (Kashmir), Article 25 (freedom of religion), article 30 (about minorities setting up educational institutions). As BJP is a part of RSS combine, one has to look at what RSS ideologues state, what its associates like VHP and others say on the issue. These organizations have times and again articulated their opposition to Indian Constitution and their goal of making the one based on Holy Indian scriptures. As such the whole attempt of Hindu nationalist political formations is to try to pave the way for Hindu nationalism by using the democratic secular space which the present Constitution gives. RSS ideologue Golwalkar in his writings like ‘Bunch Of Thoughts’ argues that territorial nationalism, which is the basis of Indian Constitution, is a barbarism, since according to him a nation is ‘not a mere bundle of political and economic rights’ but an embodiment of national culture —in India, ‘ancient and sublime’ Hinduism. It sneers at democracy, which Golwalkar sees as alien to Hindu culture, and lavishes praise on the Code of Manu, whom Golwalkar salutes as ‘the first, the greatest, and the wisest lawgiver of mankind’. When the Constituent Assembly of India passed the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949, RSS was not happy. Its organ, Organiser in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained: "But in our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing." VD Savarkar has been the major ideologue from whom most of the Hindu nationalists draw their inspiration. He argued: "Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law." Deendayal Upadhayay has been another major ideologue of RSS combine. He was part of Bharatiya Janasangh, previous avatar of BJP. He says that India had written a Constitution imitative of the West, divorced from any real connection to our mode of life and from authentically Indian ideas about the relationship between the individual and society. Like previous ideologues Upadhyay also felt that the Constitution should embody a Hindu political philosophy befitting an ancient nation like Bharat, that of reducing the Indian national idea to a territory and the people on it was fallacious. According to him the nationalist movement, from the Khilafat agitation onwards, has turned towards a policy of appeasement of the Muslim community, a policy in turn sought to be justified by the need to forge a united front against the British. He was all through critical of Indian Constitution, as he argued his case for Hindu nation. His ideology seems to be one of the major inspirations for present leadership of BJP. BJP’s discomfort with articles 25, 30 and 370 etc. is mainly as these articles aim at affirmative action in a plural diverse society. These draw from the basic notion of Equality inherent in Indian constitution. Most of the ideologues, the source of BJP ideology uphold Manusmririti, no wonder this was the precise book which architect of Indian Constitution, Babasaheb Ambedkar consigned to the flames!

January 13, 2018

India: Coming Karnataka Assembly Elections - Will communal politics be on the margins?

The Indian Express

Can communal politics work in Karnataka or will it be on the margins?
The ability of the right wing bandwagon to polarize the whole of Karnataka on communal lines is in doubt.

Written by Johnson T A | Published: January 11, 2018 2:04 pm

Often during discourses on politics in Karnataka, the coastal regions of the state, especially the district of Dakshina Kannada, are referred to as laboratories for hardline Hindutva. It is believed that political experiments in dividing society along communal lines for electoral gains are conducted here by the BJP and Sangh Parivar before replication in other parts of the state. Violent campaigns against social relationships between Hindus and minority communities, faux protection of Hindu culture against western influence have all had their teething in coastal Karnataka, over the years.

The Hindutva agenda laid down in the combustible coastal regions since the early 1990s has however never really fired the imagination of the rest of Karnataka which is more impoverished and also more laid back

Even in 2008 when the BJP first came to power on its own in Karnataka, and for the first time in southern India, it was not propelled into the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of power in the state, by divisive politics. It was a strong sympathy wave for one man, B S Yeddyurappa, from the dominant Lingayat community, who many felt had been wronged when he was denied the chance to be chief minister by a coalition partner.

Even while the BJP was in power in Karnataka, it pursued the Hindutva agenda only in spirit in the first few months when incidents of attacks on churches and pub-going women occurred in Dakshina Kannada. Eventually the BJP squandered the electoral inroads it made in Karnataka through a mix of severe infighting and corruption.

Now, with Karnataka on the threshold of state elections, and the BJP led by leaders who have successfully deployed communal tactics in states like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, the state is seeing an unprecedented number of communal incidents, especially in the coastal region.

A month ago, in December, incidents of communal violence occurred across three towns in Uttara Kannada district. Police who have investigated the origins and provocation, in the incidents in Honnavar, Kumta and Sirsi towns, believe that the incidents were engineered under false pretexts.

A BJP MP is under investigation for strategically inciting and funding the violence in Uttara Kannada. Another has been booked for inciting violence through social media.

In the first couple of weeks of the New Year the tension has shifted to Dakshina Kannada – where communal murders are common but with elections around the corner they are gaining political hues. The Sangh Parivar and its affiliates also seem keen to ratchet up incidents in the day to day lives of people by using issues like love jihad and protection of Hindu culture from western influence.

The ability of the right wing bandwagon to polarize the whole of Karnataka on communal lines is however in doubt.

Unlike the coastal parts, which has a lot of unemployed youth – despite a substantial number of people being well off on account of jobs in Arab countries — much of the rest of Karnataka is still agrarian, with existence often being hand to mouth. Here, politics based on development matter more than communal division.

Given the success it has enjoyed across the country with the Hindutva template the BJP seems to favour minority bashing or crying wolf over corruption under the Congress tenure as its main weapons.