In The News



by HUMRA QURAISHI June 7 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 46 secs

From Rahul Gandhi's padyatras to Engineer Rashid's Baramulla victory, India's electoral shift signals a rejection of divisive politics and a commitment to progressive change, writes Humra Quraishi.

In a decisive moment for India's democracy, the recent elections have dealt a significant blow to fascist forces, heralding a new era of liberal, progressive, and inclusive leadership. This shift underscores the nation's commitment to unity, peace, and comprehensive development. Rahul Gandhi has led this transformation, the electorate's rejection of divisive rhetoric and their embrace of leaders dedicated to addressing real issues such as unemployment, poverty, and communal harmony.

What a grand fight the secular parties and the masses gave to the right-wing fascist forces! Well done all you committed leaders and the thousands of men, women, and teenagers who worked tirelessly in this heat and dust, saving this land from the grip of those who spoke of hateful divides in their hate-filled speeches!  

With these election results, it’s heartening to realize that our fellow citizens saw through the political manipulations and tactics of the ruling party. They embraced the message of peace and coexistence promoted by the young, secular-minded leaders. It was reassuring to hear Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, and their party members addressing the real issues affecting us—unemployment, poverty, hunger, and homelessness. They focused on these crucial matters while upholding the great diversity our country is known for, which the right-wing forces tried to undermine by sowing suspicion and hatred among us.

One reason for the defeat of several BJP leaders in Uttar Pradesh is the mass bulldozing of homes in several towns and cities across the state. Hundreds of residents' homes were destroyed by state machinery in Ayodhya, Benaras, and even in the capital city, Lucknow, ostensibly to pave the way for broader roads and reduce congestion. But no excuse can justify destroying the survival structures of the poor, who struggle to provide their families with even two square meals a day.

Blatantly communal speeches by the rulers of the day provoked fierce reactions, not just from minority communities but also from many within the majority segments. This behaviour was seen as crossing tolerable limits. Never before had they witnessed such a dismal scenario where the Prime Minister gave speech after speech that spread divides and divisions instead of addressing real issues.

The Prime Minister did not discuss the plight of farmers, the dire condition of unemployed youth forced to seek jobs in Israel, or the soaring prices that severely impact the masses' survival. Instead, his speeches during the election campaign dragged in topics like Mangalsutras and Muslims, fuelling further divisions.

The young Indians of today are fed up and disillusioned. They yearn for positive change, which explains why they voted for the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, and several regional political parties. These leaders worked tirelessly to reach out to the masses, offering assurances and much-needed hope for jobs and livelihoods. Most importantly, they promised a peaceful and secure environment for people from all communities, castes, and creeds.

Several heroes have stood out during this entire phase. Rahul Gandhi has definitely emerged as the most popular leader of the masses, a towering figure who didn’t give up. He undertook tough yatras across the country to reach out to each citizen, making the connection with great sincerity and earnestness.

In the Kashmir Valley, it’s remarkable to see Abdul Rashid Sheikh, also known as Engineer Rashid, win by a margin of over two lakh votes from the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency. He defeated former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

The biggest factor in Engineer Rashid’s win is that he has been imprisoned in Tihar Jail for the last five years (since 2019) after being charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His two sons, Abrar Rashid and Asrar Rashid, campaigned for him with the emotional slogan, “jail ka badla vote se” (“revenge through voting”).

Engineer Rashid’s reputation as an engineer turned politician also contributed to his victory. He is well-known throughout the Valley for his connection with the people and the work he has done for his constituency. After resigning from his job as an engineer in the Public Works Department, he contested the Assembly election from Kupwara’s Langate constituency in 2008 and has since been dedicated to serving his community.

About nine years ago, I met Engineer Rashid in Srinagar for an interview. He came across as one of those politicians truly committed to his people, focusing our conversation on his constituency and his work. When I asked why he left his job as a trained engineer to enter politics, he explained, “Yes, I’m a qualified engineer, but I joined politics to address police brutalities. Now, I realize that even today, those brutalities can be unleashed on me because of the Right-Wing making inroads into the Kashmir Valley, creating unrest here.”

Looking and sounding emotionally pained and upset, he went on to say that his name was unfairly dragged into a ‘beef party’ hosted at Srinagar’s MLA hostel, though he had nothing to do with that event or what was consumed there. “Rumours were spread that I hosted that party! This was done deliberately to ruin me,” he said.

It's relevant to mention the severe aftermath of those rumours. Following the allegations, Right-Wing goons threw petrol bombs at two Kashmiri truckers, Zahid Rasool and Showkat Ahmad. Zahid Rasool succumbed to his injuries. Additionally, ink and paint were thrown at MLA Engineer Rashid and the relatives of the two truckers after they held a press conference at the Press Club of India in New Delhi.  

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.