New Delhi: Is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan going to benefit the BJP in the forthcoming Assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh in 2022? This question is dominating the political debate since Kabul fell to the Taliban and it took control of Afghanistan. Regarding political implications of the Afghan situation in India, the development in the war-torn nation coming just seven months before the crucial UP and Uttarakhand elections may strengthen the BJP on the political pitch in the Hindi heartland.

With the feelings of the terrible Taliban having reached the doorstep of India pervading the entire country and Samajwadi Party (SP) and other leaders coming out in support of the invaders, the BJP stands benefited politically and electorally with its agenda of nationalism and Hindutva set to take centrestage even as polls draw near. What is believed is that the Afghan situation and statements from various quarters in India favouring Taliban are set to polarize the voters in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Needless to say, a polarization like this will benefit the saffron party which has already set in motion the agenda of Hindutva, nationalism through Ram Mandir and other related emotive issues, eying a major chunk of Hindu votes. The Hindu votes may get consolidated all the more in favour of BJP in an already polarized atmosphere in UP and Uttarakhand.

Sources say that during polls, the BJP will not show even a little bit of hitch in raising the issue of leaders from various sections, including SP, sympathising with Taliban. What the BJP strategists are also planning to raise is the issue of Rahul Gandhi questioning the silence of the Modi government on what is going on in Afghanistan. Analysts say that Rahul Gandhi has given BJP a political weapon against the Congress by asking the government to come out with its Afghan policy at a time when the situation in the neighbouring country is highly fluid and volatile. What the BJP is trying to impress upon the people is that Rahul Gandhi’s such remarks on a sensitive international issue smack of irresponsible behaviour and show political divide on an issue which is also linked to India’s security. BJP’s question to the Congress is how a government can jump the gun on an international situation which is rapidly changing. Nothing is stable in Kabul as yet, and the entire world is waiting for it to take a definite shape first, so how can Rahul Gandhi force the government to make its views public. This is the question that the BJP campaigners will be asking the Congress.

Definitely, it is the government of the day that takes a call on anything sensitive at an appropriate time. BJP will try and send out a message that it is the Congress that is doing politics on the Afghanistan situation. What the BJP may refer to is the statement of Samajwadi Party Lok Sabha MP from Sambhal (UP), Shafiqur Rehman Barq who openly supported the Taliban. He was charged with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion. Supporting the change of regime in Afghanistan, Barq had said that “Taliban were fighting for the freedom of Afghan people on the lines of India’s freedom struggle.” Video of his statement went viral and was met with condemnation from BJP and others. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav chose to be tightlipped on this, which was seen as his well-conceived strategy to keep Muslims in good humour in view of UP elections. Analysts say that this will definitely consolidate Hindu votes in favour of BJP in UP, Uttarakhand and other polls too.

With SP being seen as the main rival of the BJP in UP, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath did not miss the chance to react on SP leader’s remarks, saying that some people are supporting Taliban despite the cruelty they perpetrated upon women and children in Afghanistan. In a hard-hitting statement, Yogi said: “But some people are shamelessly supporting the Taliban. They want to Talibanise the society. The faces of these people must be exposed.” With these comments, Yogi gave momentum to the politics of polarization that may be seen in UP. Similarly, All India Muslim Personal Law Board secretary Maulana Umrain Mahfuz Rahmani and national spokesperson Maulana Sajjad Nomani also lauded the Taliban for capturing Afghanistan, saying that they have done it “not with means and resources but belief and faith”. With such statements coming out in support of Taliban regularly, the political scene has heated up, with the BJP expecting more and more Hindu votes coming to it as a natural result of massive polarization in UP and Uttarakhand.