The Big Story: Saffron surge

On Saturday, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Shakar Katheria said that it was inevitable that saffronisation will proceed, both in the education sector as well as of India as a whole – and that this is a fine thing. Katheria is no ordinary leader. He is a minister in the Narendra Modi government. His words, like the exculpation of the Dadri beef murder by Union minister Mahesh Sharma, carry some significance. Clearly, this sort of statement is a prelude to the keenly contested 2017 Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.

And this isn’t the only indication of the party's strategy for the state. The BJP is continuing to attempt to make the alleged exodus of Hindus from Kairana a point of contention. The controversy was sparked last fortnight when a party MP produced a list of people who had purportedly been forced out of the town by Muslim criminals. Pro-government media such as Zee News went to town with these claims, comparing the situation to Kashmir in the 1990s. The only problem? There was no exodus. Checks by the administration showed that the list had names of people who had died years ago or left Kairana for better economic opportunities. One of the people on the list, Gaurav Jain, a businessman living in Ghaziabad, has even decided to file a police complaint. His name was put into the Kairana exodus list, his Kairana home painted over with the sign “for sale” and his photo circulated – without any basis. He had moved out of Kairana in 2010 for career opportunities.

Despite this, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh family, has announced a state-wide survey in Uttar Pradesh to identify areas where the Hindu population has decreased.

Uttar Pradesh is the country's largest state, home to one out of six Indians. It is also desperately poor. Even Bihar, the poster boy of India’s poverty for much of the recent past, seems to have turned the corner. In such an environment, it seems naked communalisation is the only way to do politics in the state. It was true when the BJP was rising on the back of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign to demolish the Babri Masjid in the late 1980s. Today, three decades later, even with a BJP government in Delhi, it still seems to hold true.

The Big Scroll

Kairana has grappled with a divide since 2013 – and BJP’s "Hindu exodus" claim may deepen it, reports Anumeha Yadav.

For the day's biggest headlines, go check out The Latest.

Political Picks
1. Will Raghuram Rajan make public a much-awaited list of willful loan defaulters before he exits or leave it to his successor?
2. Delhi Public School Srinagar apologises after it sacked a teacher for wearing an abaya.
3. Karnataka cabinet rejig: 14 ministers removed while 13 get in.
4. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says that yoga is irrelevant without a country-wide liquor ban, urges Prime Minister Modi to act.
5. Bengal’s Public Distribution System is doing enormously well, says economist Jean Dreze.

1. In the Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan discusses the conundrum of technocrats like Raghuram Rahan serving an ideological regime.
2. In the Indian Express, Patrick French points out that the assassination of British MP Jo Cox, as in too many recent killings, a lethal combination: Mental illness and political extremism

Don’t Miss

Aarefa Johri reports on why Gulberg Society survivors are finding it impossible to sell their abandoned home.

In 2007, activist Teesta Setalvad offered Gulbarg’s former residents an option that, at the time, sounded like a win for all. Setalvad’s non-profit organisation, Sabrang Trust, had spearheaded the legal battle for justice in the Gujarat riots cases, and the Trust proposed to set up a memorial museum in Gulberg Society to mark the tragedies that befell Gujarat in 2002. To realise this dream of the museum, Sabrang Trust offered to buy Gulberg properties at market rates as soon as it could collect enough donations for the purchase. Home owners agreed not to sell their properties to anyone else during that period.