Lakshadweep Provides No Island of Hope for BJP

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Just because Lakshadweep islands are about 400 km away from the coast of Indian state of Kerala it could boast about its separate identity.

By raising the issue of ban on cow slaughter the BJP, which is in serious trouble in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa etc. actually wants to divert the attention from the real issue of Coronavirus

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

IT SEEMS that after having exhausted all its political cards in mainland India the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has now diverted its attention towards a bunch of 36 tiny islands in Arabian Sea having a total area of just 32 square kilometres and population of something between 65,000 and 70,000.

Just because Lakshadweep islands are about 400 km away from the coast of Indian state of Kerala it could boast about its separate identity. Otherwise, it would have been just a peaceful locality or a big village anywhere in the country.

As there is no scope for any Assembly, and thus no room for political manoeuvring, a local self-government is the maximum this smallest Union Territory can have. In this meagre population what type of objective can the new administrator, Praful K Patel, wants to achieve by his draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, only he can explain.

Imposing a two-children criteria for contesting Panchayat poll as well as ban on eating beef, lifting restrictions from the sale of liquor, destroying sheds of fishermen, and move to acquire land, especially on the coasts, are certainly arbitrary actions which appear to have been undertaken to facilitate someone.

No doubt they would cause harassment to the local population as they amount to encroaching upon one’s eating and living habits.

Another proposed bill, the Lakshadweep Anti-Social Activities Regulation 2021, has kicked up a row as the islands have hardly any crime.

Here one can ask just a single line question. Can such a move be initiated in Andaman and Nicobar Islands having a population of 4.35 lakh? In this case we would start talking about preserving the original culture and life-style of the inhabitants.

The truth is that this whole exercise has been undertaken to serve the political as well as commercial purpose across Arabian Sea, that is, in mainland India.

However, the crux of the matter lies somewhere else. What needs to be reminded is that Lakshadweep, may be the smallest Union Territory, has 95 per cent Muslim population, which is highest in the country. What is more, the latest exercise has been undertaken after the rout of the BJP in the recently held Kerala election.  By raising the issue of ban on cow slaughter the BJP, which is in serious trouble in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa etc. actually wants to divert the attention from the real issue of Coronavirus.

Though the polarisation card failed badly in West Bengal and Kerala as well as in the panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh held recently, yet the saffron party would not give up its effort as they have no alternative strategy to pump oxygen into its rank and file.

Though thousands of people perished in Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Uttarakhand due to the pandemic yet the attacks on Muslims have once again increased and in between a mosque has been razed to ground in Barabanki district.

As the Jammu and Kashmir card has become too hackneyed and people, even in Jammu, have started questioning the deadlock like situation, the saffron party now wants to create a new issue to whip up pre-election passion.

But the post-Covid-19 devastation and the rout of the BJP have exposed its weakness and limitations of polarisation.

If the intention is to help the corporate lobby to acquire land, then too the move appears to be short-sighted as the islands are too small and surrounded by sea for any such major entrepreneurship. After all, what to speak of Kashmir Valley, the government has not even succeeded in bringing in investment even in the Jammu region in the last two years. Not only that, the traditional tourism industry has yet to be revived.

True, the big business-houses often face resistance in acquiring land for industry in the fertile region, therefore, they are trying to explore new destinations. But here too they are facing challenges.

An attempt to industrialise the environmentally rich Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand — a move which got a fillip during the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee — caused ecological imbalance. They are now frequented by natural disasters which are causing much bigger loss to lives and property than any time in the past. All the Himalayan rivers are repeatedly getting choked due to massive construction boom.

The corporate lobby chose the foothills of Himalayas because acquiring land in the sparsely populated region was a relatively easy job as there was less chance of resistance from the original population. The local people are now realising that nature is taking its revenge.

They are now conceding that they were perhaps earning more through the tourism industry than a handful of jobs in factories, which have completely changed the atmosphere.

Anyway, Lakshadweep is too small—at most places just one-kilometre wide, to fulfil the dream of the corporate lobby.

Praful Patel will have to realise that his ill-planned moves may not yield the desired result. Perhaps the Law of Diminishing Returns has set in motion which the BJP is not realising.

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