ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Voter, Citizen, Enemy

Voter, Citizen, Enemy

The ruling party’s attempts to redefine citizenship seem intent on bringing popular notions of Indianness in line with its cultural sympathies, in time for the general elections in 2019. In a post-truth age of alternate facts, it may be trite to point out that the state can change entire narratives by controlling definitions. This article examines the Citizenship Bill, 2016 and the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017 to find out if the erasure of the Muslim as “voter” dovetails with a radical refashioning of an “enemy” who is also a “citizen.”

The Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) success in the recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) has made its campaign strategies the subject of several dissections. One of its political strategies was to refrain altogether from appealing to the Muslim electorate, which has historically been important to political fortunes in the state. Arguably, such a strategy of marginalising the community undermines the Muslim citizen’s status as a voter with a significant stake in our democracy. Indeed, the party’s thumping majority has some convinced that Muslims can no longer rely on traditional electoral politics to protect their interests.1 Perhaps more worryingly, we note how the government’s recent legislative excursions seem to align with, but also ideologically require/reinforce, such an electoral strategy. Reading together the Citizenship Bill, 2016 and the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017, we examine whether the erasure of the Muslim as “voter” dovetails with the radical refashioning of an “enemy” that is also a “citizen.”

Natural Migrants, Unnatural Citizens

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Updated On : 10th Dec, 2019

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