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Lessons from the Taliban’s Takeover of Afghanistan and Predictions about the Future

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Afghanistan has been at the epicenter of world politics since the early 1980s when the Soviet Union occupied the country amid a civil war. By April 1988, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a peace agreement with the Afghan government. In February of the following year, all Soviet troops had been withdrawn from Afghanistan, though civil war in the country continued. In the early 1990s, world leaders debated whether and how the mujahedeen, who fought against the Soviet Union, had become the pioneers of jihadist terrorism. By the late 1990s, Afghanistan’s Taliban government and its strict interpretation of Islam law—particularly the repression of women, who were seen as inferior to men—drew widespread attention to the country. The most salient development, however, was the Taliban’s role in harboring al Qaeda militants, the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks in the United States. To make matters worse, Afghanistan became the global leader in opium production and trafficking.

When the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan after the United States withdrew all its troops from the embattled country at the end of August 2021, world attention now is on whether the Afghanistan could become a safe haven for al Qaeda to plan attacks that target the Western world. This article examines the lessons that can be learned from the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and what these lessons portend for the future.  

Unlearned Lessons

Afghanistan is another example of a country that has failed to transition to a more democratic state. It seems that the Western world did not learn any lessons from what happened in Iraqi or from the Arab Spring uprisings in the early 2010s. The Western world wants to see more democratic states based on human rights and the rule of law but, as these examples show, all attempts to make that goal a reality have failed. The Western world pushed these states to replace their authoritarian regimes with regimes that are more democratic; however, what the Western world apparently has not grasped is that states such as Afghanistan are caught in a vicious cycle of oppressing and being oppressed. The group in power oppresses the populace. The oppressed populace rises up, assumes power, and then oppresses the former oppressors. The cycle continues, and the country becomes polarized. Rather than push or force a country change its ways and adopt a democratic system of government, the Western world should work to educate the populace about the advantages of democratic regimes and the deleterious effects of continual retaliation. For example, when Iraq adopted so-called democracy, the elections gave Iraqi Shias, who had been oppressed by Saddam’s tyrannical regime, a chance to retaliate against the country’s Sunni tribes. When the expected retaliation began, a massive number Sunni tribes in Iraq joined the ranks of al Qeada in Iraq.

The confrontations between pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood groups are another example of polarization in the Muslim world. After the military coup in 2013 that resulted in the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first freely elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood lost its ruling position in the government, and an ongoing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood pushed some of its followers into the hands of jihadist groups. The Bashar al Assad regime in Syria reacted to demonstrators in his own country who were seeking more democratic rights; however, the Assad regime was afraid of losing power and therefore hesitant to retaliate against opposition groups.

Afghanistan has experienced many ethnic wars over the years, and all have failed to bring large ethnic groups under the same umbrella. For example, the Pashtuns, who were represented by the Taliban, hated other ethnic groups. This hatred and subsequent polarization precluded a smooth transition to democracy in Afghanistan. It should be noted that while democratic regimes are the most convenient for the development of states, the Western world should have been aware of the ongoing polarization among factions and the locals’ disbelief in the advantages of democratic regimes.

Another lesson that the Western world apparently has not learned is that corruption is endemic in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq, for example, continues to rank as one of the most corrupt countries in the corruption perception index. It is no surprise, therefore, that U.S. foreign aid went into the pockets of corrupt officials. The United States spent several trillion dollars in Afghanistan, but this money created wealthy elites in the country and was not used for the intended purpose of infrastructure and other development projects that would help all the people in Afghanistan.

A third unlearned lesson is the necessity of learning about and understanding the local culture of a country the Western world plans to invade. In Iraq, for example, Western military troops were criticized for lacking the skills needed to integrate with the locals. The same criticism was voiced when Western military troops failed to integrate with the locals in Afghanistan. Integration with the locals could have created a more conducive environment for Westerners to convey their message in the country. The lack of understanding about the culture isolated Western forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Predictions about the Future

Predictions about what the future holds for Afghanistan must take into account a complex mix of political, social, religious, economic, and cultural issues.

Copying the Taliban Model

The Taliban’s takeover may encourage other extremist groups to copy the Taliban model. Jihadist groups that operate in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya believe that their resilience may lead to victory against the governments they have fought. For example, a convoy of militants drove through the city of Idlib, celebrating the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Since 9/11, terrorist groups around the world have failed in their fight against Western world. The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, however, may prompt terrorist groups to believe that the use of terrorist tactics will help them achieve their goals.

False Portrayal of the Taliban as a Moderate Force

Since the takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban has aimed to portray itself as a more moderate force than it had been in the past; the Taliban’s enforcement of sharia law against Afghan women proves that Taliban will continue to repress the women in the country.

Islam at the Center of Politics and Ideology

Islam and terrorism had never been used in the same context until the early 1980s. The Iranian Revolution and the consequences of the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan created the right mix of circumstances states and violent groups need to put Islam at the center of their politics and ideologies. Islam is still an influential and powerful religion for its followers. Jihadist groups, starting from the early 1990s, have shaped the Western world’s perception of Islam. Bloody jihadist attacks in the Western world have created negative perceptions of Islam, leading Westerners to believe that Islam motivates violence and that Islam therefore needs to be discussed in the context of terrorism. In addition to ISIS and al Qaeda, the Taliban has played a critical role in turning Westerners against Islam and fostering Islamophobia in Western countries, and motivating far-right groups, especially those in Europe, to target Muslims. The broader media coverage of the Taliban has reinforced these biases against Islam; therefore, anti-Islam sentiment may increase around the world, potentially making life more difficult for Muslims in the Western world. In addition, terrorist groups may take advantage of increased friction between Muslims and Westerners. Terrorist groups know that Western politicians’ remarks about Islam and terrorism are hurtful to Muslims and that such criticism may turn some Muslims into reactionaries hostile to the Western world and be inspired to join jihadist groups.  

Potential for the Taliban to Form Relationships with the Western World

The presence of ISIS-K in Afghanistan may create opportunities for the Taliban to form relationships with the Western world, which would be helpful because the Afghan economy needs money. At the same time, the Taliban may create an environment that would allow ISIS-K to attack Western targets. Just as the world has forgotten about the Assad’s atrocities after the emergence of ISIS in Syria, any successful ISIS-K attacks may push Western countries to cooperate with the Taliban and perhaps bring a sense of legitimacy to the Taliban.

Use of Madrassahs to Unite Ethnic Groups

The Taliban will continue to use the power of Islam to unite all ethnic groups by encouraging the Afghan people to attend madrassahs, much like the Pakistani government did to use the power of Islam over ethnicity issues in the region. The madrassahs in Afghanistan, however, have been mostly funded by salafi businessmen who insist on the teaching of a strict and literal interpretation of sharia law. It should not be forgotten that one of San Bernardino attackers in the United States attended a madrassah in Pakistan. With the Taliban’s likely emphasis on madrassahs, the world can expect to see more activity and the radicalization of more people at these institutions. 

Failure to Include Ethnic Groups in the Cabinet Will Have Dire Consequences

If the Taliban is unable to create a cabinet represented by various ethnic groups, the government will fail, poverty and deprivation will increase, and opposition groups will be emboldened to act. Some of these opposition groups may join ISIS-K, as was seen in Syria where moderate opposition groups joined ISIS en masse.

Afghanistan Will Return to Being a Haven for Terrorists

Afghanistan again will be a haven for terrorist groups, particularly for al Qaeda. The Taliban has a strong relationship with al Qaeda and its leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, who congratulated the Taliban because of its successful takeover Afghanistan. It would seem likely, therefore, that al Qaeda will be given the green light to use Afghan soil for its operations with impunity. It is likely also that the Haqqani Network will be treated in much the same way. The Haqqani Network already had a close relationship with al Qaeda and, its leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, was given the position of Minister of Interior in the Taliban government.

Continuation of Government Corruption

Afghanistan has been one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The religious government the Taliban established in Afghanistan follows a sharia law, which bans bribery and corruption of any kind. However, as the governments in Malesia, Turkey, Morocco, and Pakistan have shown the leaders of political Islamist parties can be extremely corrupt. Rather than admit to their wrongdoing, they use Islamic laws to legitimize their corrupt activities. The Taliban government in Afghanistan is likely to behave the same way. It is likely, therefore, that the Taliban will speak harshly against government corruption while continuing to take advantage of endemic corruption in the country and turn blind eye to its own corrupt deeds that enhance the wealth of Taliban politicians and officials.

Expansion of Taliban Involvement in the Drug Trade

Faced with the loss of foreign aid and bans on accessing accounts overseas, the Taliban will expand its involvement in drug trade. After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said, “When we were in power before there was no production of drugs.” The statement is false. The drug trade in Afghanistan grew during the times when the Taliban ruled the country. For example, opium poppy cultivation rose substantially under Taliban rule—from around 41,000 hectares in 1998 to more than 64,000 hectares in 2000, according to the U.S. State Department. Helmand province in southern Afghanistan had the most land in use for poppy cultivation when the Taliban controlled the country in 2020. Western efforts to replace opium with pomegranates and other alternative crops failed to convince Afghans to change their long-standing opium habits. The Taliban, unfortunately, is not capable of developing effective and Westernized models that can end the drug trade. The situation will only worsen over time as the already large number of drug addicts in the country increases with the Taliban in power. Afghanistan will continue to be a drug-producing country. Given the dismal economy in Afghanistan, the Taliban is likely to increase its involvement in other types of illicit trade, including illegal logging and antiquities trafficking.

Thriving Human-Smuggling Networks

Human-smuggling networks will thrive in the region. Afghans weary of persecution by the Taliban will be desperate to leave the country, creating more opportunities for human-smuggling networks. European Union countries will be the destination for many of the smuggled Afghan migrants. Turkey will open its doors to the migrants, though its capacity to do so is limited. Unfortunately, Turkey’s willingness to accept the Afghan migrants is not an expression of mercy or generosity on the part of Turkey’s current corrupt government; rather, it is an attempt to seek leverage with the EU countries and pressure them into opening their doors to Syrian and Afghan refugees coming from Turkey.

To conclude, the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan in the weeks after the United States withdrew all of its troops from the country exposed the lessons that the Western world did not learn from previous failed attempts to create a democratic system of government in Syria and Iraq. The Western world failed now in Afghanistan because the focus was on a utopian transformation that did not take into consideration the ethnic, social, cultural, and economic issues in each of these three countries. It is difficult to make predictions about the future, this time for Afghanistan under a Taliban government. Most likely, though, Afghanistan will become a haven again for salafi-jihadist terrorist groups, the government will continue to grapple with difficult political and economic issues, the drug trade will flourish, and Afghans will be persecuted under Taliban’s twisted version of sharia law.

Dr. Mahmut Cengiz is an Assistant Professor and Research Faculty with Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) and the Schar School of Policy and Government. Dr. Cengiz has international field experience where he has delivered capacity building and training assistance to international partners in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. He also has been involved in the research projects for the Brookings Institute, European Union, and various U.S. agencies.

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The Taliban Finally Granted Permission to the Former President Karzai to leave Afghanistan

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Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. (Express photo by Nirupama Subramanian)

Based on the information, the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was permitted to leave the country. At a time, when online meetings between Sohail Shaheen and American representatives are going on in connection with the start of intra-Afghan talks in Doha, The former president of the country, Hamid Karzai, was allowed to exit the country for the first time after August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took over. Nevertheless, it is not yet known when he will start his overseas trip, but his only purpose is to get preparation for the start of Intra-Afghan talks in Doha and to meet with American officials and foreign Afghan politicians. Since the end of October and the beginning of November, there are reports narrating that telephone calls are being made between President Hamid Karzai, and the US special representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West.

Besides, the persons are preparing for future negotiations, the re-established relationship between the former president Karzai and the CIA took place, when a CIA undercover intelligence officer met Karzai sometimes back, when he represented himself as an International media reporter. Sources suspect that the undercover agent interviewed the president under the auspices of a well-known German based Der Spiegel Magazine.

According to the information, former President Hamid Karzai will fly to Germany, while meeting with the CIA officials at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Meantime, the former President Hamid Karzai will meet with some high-ranking officials of Germany and then have separate meetings with Western politicians and intelligence officers. Furthermore, after that, President Hamid Karzai will meet with the American ambassador to lay out the strategy for the potential negotiations.

 Currently, there is a lot of confusion in the Mandigak palace in Kandahar province, where Taliban Spiritual leader and the decision making hub located and it is said that there have been serious discrepancies  regarding allowing him to go abroad. However, Sheikh Haibatullah’s position is still neutral about his exit, while negotiating with his advisors to make a final decision in the upcoming days.

Nonetheless, there are no other specific differences regarding the permission. It is only the low-ranking Taliban fighters, who demand the precise judgement of the Taliban’s leader in this concern; In addition, some Taliban leaders are also unhappy about the whole process, especially the former members of the Quita Council of Taliban.

Now the ball is in the Taliban’s ground, whether they are ready to comply with the demands of the international community, by transferring the power to a transitional government or not, and to get along with the United States and get onboard the international community support. Definitely, it causes further splintering among Taliban groups and ISKP will use it as an opportunity to recruit Taliban fighters, while paving the way for regrouping in Khorasan Province the IS so-called territory.

The ISKP long before blamed Taliban for being ‘’ Rafeda’’, while simultaneously cooperating with the US, Russia, China and Iran for their political ambitions.  To conclude, the Afghan people will not accomplish a lasting peace and sustainable economic developments, since the country will turn into a new battle filed among countries, which have stake in Afghanistan.

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The Charisma and Chaos of Imran Khan

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PTI Chairman Imran Khan gestures at the march participants as his convoy arrives in Gujranwala on November 1, 2022. — Instagram

The chances of Imran Khan winning the elections of 2018 were quite murky. Despite his unparalleled fan base and populist rhetoric appeals to the young, and labor class of Pakistan, the legitimacy of his government is marred with allegations of fraud, rigging, and exploitation.

Some argue that his candidacy was a marketing tactic used by the ‘Establishment’ in Pakistan to form a government that is rather weak and dependent so that the ‘Establishment’ can continue its control over domestic security issues including the Nuclear escalation and relations with India.

But by and large, Khan won the elections.

Maybe it was the stardom attached to the name ‘Imran Khan’ and Pakistanis not wanting to confide in the same faces ruling them for centuries.

Maybe it was the mismanagement and violence that marred election day with unfathomable delays in result declaration in metropolis cities, coupled with post-poll manipulation.

Maybe it was the judicial-military nexus, that placed all the votes in the right places by not allowing voters to use their will during elections.

Maybe it was the 7 years-old narcotics case hearing moving forward against the stalwart of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Hanif Abbasi, giving him a life sentence in a rare late-night session of court, four days ahead of the elections that effectively knocked PML-N out of the race.

But the deal was done and can’t be undone and Imran Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan, for better or worse.

Khan the Celebrity

Pakistani nationals were victims of the financial crisis, unemployed people, those who lost their homes, and who were in debt; these people felt like the two parties ruling Pakistan for centuries had destroyed their country’s economy.

Imran Khan, with his humongous stardom as an athlete and philanthropist, seemed like the only ‘Messiah’ that could save them from all the atrocities they were facing.

Though, a significant number of votes were cast in favor of PML-N but not in the places that would have locked the win. So Imran Khan, persuaded the angry Pakistanis, the youth, and the labor class who were fed up with being handed over in trade deals with other nations.

Khan, a socialite that he was, knew how to connect with these agitated masses. Their grievances were clear as a day and so he gave them pretty promises wrapped up in his vibrant rallies filled with catchy songs. His huge social media presence along with the ‘Naya Pakistan’ slogan further amplified his staunch.

But there lies a challenge as to why Khan became the top highlight of this era. To many who were tired of politicians filling their own pockets, and amid the corruption charges on Nawaz Sharif, Khan’s celebrity status, his colorful personality, his promise of a corruption-free Pakistan, and his unconventional ‘Don’t Panic’ attitude – all of this made Khan seem like the only option who would deliver a better life and nation and, if not that, then at least would be the eradicator of what Pakistan had become.

Khan the Totalitarian

The other side of the coin sees Imran Khan as a narcissist, self-centered, and power-hungry mogul. After achieving his eternal craving of becoming the Prime Minister, he hardly showed any respect for the institutions of the country. More often than not he refused to attend the sessions of Parliament, with his excuse being the presence of members of the opposition party whom he referred to as ‘Crooks’ and ‘Chors’ (thieves).

This resulted in laws, instead of passing through an ordinary law-making process, being passed through presidential ordinances, with very limited power. We can clearly say that these laws were passed without debate, consensus, and thorough examination, negating the very foundation of constitutional requirements.

Additionally, Khan likes to fabricate stories in his speeches, a lot. In this vein, he brings down any democratic provision that proves him wrong, including targeting political parties on concocted charges of corruption; sustained attacks on the media; undermining law authorities, even the Supreme Court is not exempted from his allegations.

Through the abrogation of rule of law, irresponsible remarks about institutions, and disdain toward democracy, Khan himself created a fragile parliamentary system, which then collapsed on him. Not only this, but he has fractured the already dwindling democracy of Pakistan into a whole new level.

Khan the Leader

Khan came onto the political scene when Pakistan was facing a volatile situation both at home and abroad, coupled with the tensions going on with the Americas, and the rampant inflation, he was still able to take some impressive measures. His work related to health, relief programs, house loans, the environment, entrepreneurship, and the COVID response is admirable.

In addition, his billion tree tsunami and the building of several small dams initiated an environment-friendly drive in the climate change-affected country. But was he able to deliver on the ‘Promises’ made to the nation? Absolutely Not.

Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the cabinet as the abrupt changes in the system dwindled the confidence of investors in Pakistan’s economic machinery. His careless handling of some important economic programs including the CPEC decelerated the capital influx that caused the GDP to drop considerably.

To top it all off, Pakistan, in 2021 dropped from 124th place to 140th place according to Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), leaving an ugly mark on Khan’s corruption eradication promises on which he has led the foundation of his political career. Maybe he should have abided by the agenda of progression in order to gear up his performance instead of getting involved in blame and shame politics.

Khan the funambulist

The important reason why Khan has a cult following in Pakistan is his unfiltered and raw opinions about topics like the Americas, and Afghanistan which he keeps casting in his speeches. And, the audience, mostly the social media-induced young generation eats it all up like a sweet concoction, without paying heed to the implications it will bring to the foreign policy of Pakistan.

Khan’s decision to appoint Usman Buzdar, an underqualified and inexperienced newcomer to a vital position in the key city of Punjab pretty much sums up his political foresight. Perhaps, the most interesting yet debatable contrivance of his regime is his relentless attitude toward the United States, no previous Prime Minister of Pakistan was able to say ‘Absolutely No’ to the US as it had many allies in the domestic political platform of Pakistan. This stance of Khan was admired a lot in the country, with the phrase being trending in Pakistan. But the remarks came with ramifications for Pakistan on the international forum. This whole scenario further makes people question his political sanity.

Imran Khan possesses all the characteristics of a populist leader and in Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Cas Mudde says: “Populists are dividers, not uniters” they split society into “two homogenous and antagonistic groups: the pure people on the one end and the corrupt elite on the other.” True to this narration, Khan has divided the nation into two groups of ‘Evil and Good’ people, and the consequences are detrimental to the stability of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Conclusion

To sum it all up, Imran Khan, despite his misgivings, his warts, his narcissism, and his unhinged political views, is still able to reach a class of people that have seen Pakistan erode for centuries and consider him the last hope for the country. But he certainly is not the best choice for democracy as his political understanding is ruined by his self-righteous approach. In this manner, he is no better than former US President Trump who incited his supporters to pass on the U.S. Capitol to forestall the peaceful transition of power after his electoral defeat. It is precise to say that Pakistan has fallen into a deep cauldron and only a Magic Wand can heal it at this point. Though Khan has not singularly created this cauldron, he most definitely is exploiting and feeding on it.

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Chattisgarh Elections 2023: Future of United Progressive Alliance and BJP

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Chattisgarh, the 9th largest state of India by area and 17th most populous state with population of 30 Million will go to votes in upcoming elections in 2023. Chattisgarh saw an electoral shift in 2018 when voters chose INC lead United Progressive Alliance over BJP which was into the power since 2003. The legislative assembly comprises of 90 constituencies and population demography favors the Hindu’s with 93.05%, Muslims are major minority with 2.02% and Christians make up 1.92% of the population of Chattisgarh. The major contenders in the elections are United Progressive Alliance, which came into power in 2018. The major parties in the Alliance are Indian National Congress (INC), Dravida Munnetra Kazghagam, Janta Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party. This alliance faces BJP as major gladiator of the Elections.

INC lead United Progressive Alliance Government

In 2018 elections, United Progressive Alliance defeated BJP in the state to form the government. Previously BJP enjoyed three successive tenures in power. The Alliance proved to be vital in defeating the ex-ruling party and Bhupesh Baghel of INC was sworn in as new CM of Chattisgarh. The newly elected government opted for the developmental model in the state with their activities ranging from sports to health and good governance. The CM gave the vision of ‘Employment Mission’ which aimed at providing 15 lac jobs to people of Chattisgarh. The government provided the masses with the vision of ‘trust, development and security’ in order to remain popular and hence their projects based upon wellness of the general public. The CM started ‘Khelbo-Jeetbo-Gadhbo Nova Chattisgarh’ scheme in order to enhance sports infrastructure and facilities for youth of Chattisgarh. The scheme covered major as well as local games. The government also launched ‘ Makhyamantri Haat Bazar Clinics’ scheme in order to provide and ensure health services in rural and remote areas of the state. This scheme received a lot of praises from the masses during pandemic period. Government also enhanced education sector by setting up more than 600 Hindi and English medium schools. CM launched ‘Swami Atmanand English Medium Education System’ in all districts of the state. The scheme aimed at setting up of the English medium colleges for the students. The government under CM Baghel, also faced severe opposition in form BJP. The BJP criticized government of corruption, farm loans and internal rift among government officials. The CM also survived ‘No Confidence Motion’ tabled by BJP in the legislative assembly in July 2022.

BJP and Caste votes

Caste permutation and combinations have always played a role of dominating factor in the state of Chattisgarh. The state is amalgamation of upper castes, schedule castes (SC), Schedule tribes (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs). The Kurmi’s and Sahu’s dominate upper castes in the state. One third of the population is composed of Scheduled tribes (ST), while Schedule castes (SC) make up 12% of the population and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) are 41% of the population. Upper castes and OBCs have traditionally tilted in the favor of BJP. SC votes have been divided among BJP, INC and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In 2013 however, BJP swept through 9 out of 10 constituencies of SC reserved seats. Dalit vote bank also has an influential role in elections. There exists around 12% of Dalit vote splitting between BJP and BSP. This vote bank influences 40 constituencies of the state. BJP is also counting upon Sahu’s votes in order to gain power back in upcoming Chattisgarh elections.

Chattisgarh as home ground of Hindutva

Chattisgarh has seen a violent shift when it comes to application of agenda of Hindutva. RSS and its political affiliate BJP have targeted Chattisgarh for Hindutva onslaught. The norms of Hindu identity have gone deep down into the roots of the society. ‘Ghar Wapsi’ scheme is gaining influence in Chandigarh. In March 2022, a ceremony was held and 1250 people returned to Hindu dharma. In states like Odisha, Chattisgarh and Jharkand more than 10,000 people have returned to Hindu dharma. BJP has developed a narrative of targeting Congress for miseries of Hindu’s all around India. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) an affiliate of RSS has been provided with security umbrella of BJP and it has forced Churches in Chattisgarh to use name of ‘Acharya’ and ‘Up-Acharya’ instead of ‘Father’. VHP has also forced churches to display images and painting of Hindu goddess ‘Saraswati’ in churches. The organization has also forces churches to distribute ‘Prasad’ instead of sweets at the eve of Christmas, thereby attacking the root identities of Christianity in the state. Around the time when BJP formed the government in center in 2014, 5 villages in Bastar district of Chattisgarh were banned for non-Hindu practices. Hindu leaders in Chattisgarh are calling for killing of any individual who tries to convert Hindus into any other religion. The Equation between the minorities and Hindus started changing since 2003, when BJP was installed into power in Chattisgarh. The change has intensified now when BJP is also present in Center. 

Bet on Youth’s vote

The youth vote bank in Chattisgarh can be the turning point in the upcoming elections. The major gladiators BJP and United Progressive Alliance are eyeing the vote share of youth in the state. The initiatives started by the CM Baghel, progressively targets the youth and their development. However, BJP accuses the current INC lead state government of unemployment among the youth. The tussle between the major contenders in the state is pivoted for Youth vote. The saffron party has also targeted youth with the identity confrontation within the framework of Hindutva. However, the INC lead coalition government is centered on the agenda of developmental and governance model for the youth rather than targeting and convincing youth on identity based vote bank. The youth from minority section of the population may opt for INC and United Progressive alliance for the power in state but saffron influenced youth and upper castes are likely to put their weight in BJP’s favor.

Conclusion

Chattisgarh elections 2023 will play a major role in determining the BJPs future in center as well. Chattisgarh has been the power bank for BJP since 2003 but shift in 2018 has taken BJP by shock and surprise. However, upcoming elections can also prove to be referendum of policies applied by BJP at national level. INC will also have to investigate its depth in masses as well. The future of alliance mostly depends upon the INC performance in the state elections. The General Elections can also be strategically targeted by INC in form of alliance and coalition seat shares in order to give tough time BJP which is by far thriving among the masses at national level.

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