The Indian state guarantees freedom to all in all forms of life. This is what a working republic should do, respect each and everyone’s personal way of life. But what happens when the people in large protected by appeasement for three-quarters of a century start taking advantage of an unregulated religious system in a partially broken democracy. Where influential people see the pain of a particular part of the society but not the largely peaceful majority. Today we talk about LOVE JIHAD and why is the Centre-right political party of India in the centre of this particular narrative and keen to see through legislations barring this immoral action by the so-called minorities.
In the past few months, starting from Uttar Pradesh in late February this year, followed by Madhya Pradesh and now Gujarat, have passed legislations regarding the much controversial Love Jihad. The term had caught limelight during the legislative assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh in 2017 and has been in the news for the past four years which have constituted various articles written for or against it. Just this week, the Gujarat state assembly has passed a bill to amend Dharma Swatantra (Freedom of Religion) Act, 2003 which purposes to combat forceful religious conversions, in simpler terms, to battle Love Jihad. Two things can be derived from this particular action of the state governments. First, all these states are run by a Centre-right party of India, the BJP. Secondly, the actions of a new BJP government in UP led by Yogi Adityanath being replicated by seasoned BJP leaders in their states. Elaborating on the second point, the three states (UP, MP, and Gujarat) which have passed the laws on similar lines for protecting Love Jihad of Hindu girls have had very different scenarios while forming a government and their reflection shows in the actions when a career politician with an experience of more than 15 years as Chief Minister, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan following the footsteps of a newly elected, first-timer CM, Mr. Adityanath. Many would point out that Yogi does have more than 2 decades of experience in parliament. But that is very different from being the CM of a state like UP. So how does this relevance pan out in the political scenario of current days?
Even though the question asked afore can be easily answered with – Identity politics, but how simple is that. Today we see Yogi Adityanath as the frontrunner campaigner for the BJP everywhere and it is true that his presence not only attracts the crowd but has also been seen to reflect in the voting patterns of the constituency where he has had rallies. So as the saying goes, “where goes the leader, there goes the follower.” BJPs unity and uniformity on points of action is a key point that garners them with popularity. They have stood for their ideology since their inception and have been more faithful to it than the communists of India. Now the next big question is, how much of a real threat is Love Jihad that bringing legislation can be justified? Or is it just some throw-in for future elections? When we look up data on this topic, no particular or significant data is available for the same, thus raising the question of what leads to such laws being passed in the state assemblies? The answer is much more complicated than it seems to the left side of the aisle. The fear in the minds of people can be targeted and even flaunted at times. It’s not always that numbers do justice to the truth. Similar was the case with mob lynching. No significant data was available with the states of Rajasthan or West Bengal while bringing legislation against it, citing killings of Muslims in some parts of their state. But to protect the interests of some it got justified by Lutyens’ media.
In the Diwali of 2020, as a marketing strategy, Tanishq, a popular jewellery brand owned by TATA, promoted interfaith marriage with the bride being Hindu and the groom being a Muslim. This advertisement faced a lot of aggravation and condemnation on social media as a lot of people felt that somethings cannot be simplified as it was shown. As stated by current UP CM, Yogi Adityanath, the state has every business in protecting their girl children and it is an Islamic strategy against Hindus (Statement given in Zee media Conclave 2021). A very bold statement for a person going into an election in less than a year, but is the statement true? As reported extensively, the Hindi-speaking belt of north India has been very drastically affected by this act of unreligious behaviour. The fear of demography change is or maybe the long-term result of these actions if not contained or the accused not being persecuted in time.
And as every action of the BJP government is not seen as good enough by the influential Bollywood, let us take an example and make some things a bit clear. Saif Ali Khan married Kareena Kapoor, and she became Kareena Kapoor Khan. But his sister, Soha Ali Khan married Kunal Khemu, but remained Soha Ali Khan. So, to all the feminists out there, these legislations are the need of the hour for the namesake from where your name is derived. Certain kind of awareness is the only solution with firm laws to back those families and individuals in grief. Had we had strict provisions against rape, especially of minors and talked about it openly enough, and at the earliest, would we not be worried about the same in the 2nd decade of the 21st century. So, to all the Indian women out there, love is for everyone and should not be coloured in saffron or green, but it should remain so even after marriage. Changing religion for love should be a deal breaker for both sides. Marriage is and should be about mutual respect, from one another and also from the respective families.