2024 Indian General Elections: Targeting Muslims to Fuel Hate and Division

It’s a significant moment as India is on the cusp of concluding its ongoing elections. Unfortunately, the political landscape is marred by familiar issues. Politicians have once again exploited divisions of religion, caste, creed, and class to create unrest among different societal groups. In response to its perceived failures and dwindling support, the government has intensified its efforts to sway public opinion through controversial means, including discriminatory acts and derogatory remarks aimed at specific communities.

Historically, India was subjected to the British "Divide and Rule" policy, which sowed discord among the populace to consolidate control. Initially, the British were unaware of the effectiveness of this strategy, but once realized, they deliberately fostered enmity between communities such as Hindus and Muslims, cementing their power. This strategy left a lasting impact, whose divisive effects, although diminished, still linger in the country today.

As the elections draw to a close and we anticipate the results in June, the intensity of the electoral process has been remarkable. The BJP faces increasing scrutiny as voters recognize that mere construction of temples and divisive religious politics do not address core issues like job creation, employment expansion, development, and societal stability. Recently, during a roadshow in West Bengal, the Prime Minister made provocative comments that echoed his usual divisive rhetoric between Hindus and Muslims.

He controversially claimed that the West Bengal government is unfairly favouring Muslims by maintaining OBC reservations that should be available to Hindus. Typically, politicians seek votes by promising significant benefits such as quality education and job guarantees meant to uplift the grassroots level. This election is pivotal for determining the future of our youth and their prospects for employment. The Prime Minister's recent remarks, warning that 'they will snatch your Mangalsutra'[i] (ye tumhara Mangalsutra bhi cheen lenge) and 'give your property to Muslims' (tumhari property Muslamano ko dedenge), have sparked considerable controversy. Such inflammatory slogans are alarming to hear from a leader responsible for governing nearly 1.5 billion people.

Since the onset of the election campaigns, a series of events have blatantly violated the moral code of conduct, with the Election Commission of India appearing to remain passive. Actions perceived as anti-Muslim are often celebrated, with numerous incidents supporting this disturbing trend. Despite the rise of hate speech becoming alarmingly routine in India, there are still instances that stand out, demonstrating significant resistance to this norm. The Indian populace is becoming increasingly contemplative about discerning right from wrong. Amidst these intentional disruptions to societal harmony, specific individuals emerge as unsung heroes, striving to protect the Constitution and preserve humanity against widespread degradation.

It is profoundly unsettling to hear crass statements such as "they're going to snatch your Mangalsutras," "they're going to distribute your property to the Muslims," and "Muslims are infiltrators." Without critical reflection, it is difficult to comprehend how respected leaders and influential figures quickly endorse and propagate such views. This prompts several crucial questions: Is it appropriate for the Prime Minister to make such statements? Does this comport with the dignity expected of a nation's foremost leader? What lessons can be learned from a Prime Minister who readily makes such divisive and disparaging remarks targeting a specific community?

Controversy Over 'Machli' and "Mangalsutra"

It was baffling to learn that, in an attempt to divert attention from pressing national issues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ignited controversy with his comments about 'Machli'[ii] (fish), labeling those who eat fish as Mughals. Tamal Saha, a journalist known for his active presence on 'X' (formerly Twitter), responded to the Prime Minister's remarks by tweeting, "I eat fish in the morning and evening. #PMModi has said that those who consume fish are Mughals. If #BJP wins, then they will come after your fish." Abhishek Banerjee further criticized Modi's comment as being anti-Bengali and anti-Bengal. This raises a critical question: What logical basis does the Prime Minister have for making such a statement?

It is shameful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi used "Mangalsutra" in his rhetoric to stir emotions among women across the country. His suggestion that women might lose their 'Mangalsutra' under opposition rule is baffling and incendiary. This focus on communal and religious issues, rather than on critical topics like jobs, education, and healthcare, diverts attention from real problems. The statement inadvertently highlights the economic distress many face, where families are forced to sell their most precious possessions due to a lack of employment opportunities.


Portraying Muslims as Villains

It is undeniable that Muslims have made significant contributions to the development of this nation, including their efforts during the fight for independence. Despite this, some still question their loyalty and sacrifices for the country. According to BJP's narrative, Muslims are often depicted as infiltrators, and there is a persistent effort to malign them as terrorists and jihadists—a fabricated notion intended to tarnish their image. Recently, Narendra Modi, while campaigning in Rajasthan, claimed that a Congress-led government would show undue favouritism towards Muslims. Furthermore, Himanta Biswa Sharma, the Chief Minister of Assam, has used divisive rhetoric, stating, "Modi needs 400 seats because we need a temple in place of the Gyanwapi Mosque," suggesting that religious polarization would garner more votes. Such strategies aiming to divide the populace on religious lines are considered ineffective this time, as they only contribute to communal disharmony.

In the 2024 election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders have frequently employed rhetoric that frames Muslims as antagonists, exacerbating communal tensions. In Uttar Pradesh, Modi suggested that the opposition prioritizes Muslim interests over Hindu ones, citing unequal electricity provision during festivals. This portrayal was further echoed by BJP leaders like Yogi Adityanath, who warned of a "Mughal Raj" if the BJP lost, implying a return to Muslim dominance.

Amit Shah also contributed to this narrative by accusing the Trinamool Congress of supporting "Mullah, Madrasa, and Mafia" networks, suggesting an undue patronage of Muslim extremists and criminals. These comments were aimed at polarizing voters and consolidating Hindu votes by portraying Muslims as a threat. Modi further intensified these divisions in East Champaran, accusing the Congress party of engaging in "vote jihad" by promising quotas for Muslims, thereby suggesting that Muslim interests were being placed above those of Hindus.

Modi's speeches have also perpetuated demographic fears, suggesting that Muslims have more children to influence the population balance, a claim used to stoke fear and division among Hindus. Such statements are part of a broader pattern where Modi's rhetoric has been criticized for poisoning the national discourse with hate, leading to increased communal tensions and societal division. This strategy of portraying Muslims as villains serves to divert attention from pressing issues like economic development and governance, using fear to secure electoral gains.



The current political climate has taken a dangerous turn, with citizens increasingly recognizing the manipulation they have endured for years. As India's largest minority, Muslims have been used to poison young minds, but this approach has led to widespread disillusionment. This election is critical for Indian politics, with the potential to reshape the nation's future. It is essential for citizens to prioritize the country's betterment and reject divisive politics, demonstrating that India remains a land where diverse communities coexist harmoniously.

Political leaders like Rahul Gandhi and social media influencers like Dhruv Rathee have actively responded to this communal rhetoric. Rahul Gandhi has criticized the BJP's divisive politics, urging citizens to focus on unity and development instead of falling prey to fear-mongering tactics. Dhruv Rathee, through his social media platforms, has debunked the communal claims made by BJP leaders, emphasizing the need for fact-based discussions and highlighting the dangers of communal polarization. Their efforts aim to counteract the spread of hate and promote a more inclusive political discourse.

Fuzail Ahmed is an Islamic tutor and professional teacher currently training at Institute Muhammad VI in Rabat. He is also a Research Scholar with a Master's Degree in Islamic and Human Sciences, and Bachelor's Degrees in English Language and Literature, and Islamic Studies. He writes on current issues, politics, Islamic studies, and gender-related topics.

[i] Mangalsutra is a Hindi word which refers to a necklace that women get from their husband during marriage and they keep wearing it. It’s an indication also to understand that those who wear Mangalsutra are married.

[ii] Machli in Urdu word which means fish.



The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily mirror Islamonweb’s editorial stance.

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