Politics, like magic, requires suspension of disbelief by the masses to cast its spell. But when the two forces combine, much confusion happens as appears evident from the situations in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Politicians in India have always had a disturbing obsession with superstition like black magic, vaastu or the dark arts.
And the latest incident to give the Samajwadi Party rift a weird turn (as if it was not weird enough already) is expelled SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav warning Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav that “in-house enemies” are using the dark arts to destroy them according to a report by IndiaToday.
The Samajwadi Party drama already looked like a bad Bollywood movie but with this claim, it now resembles a even more stupid melodramatic third grade Hindi film.
Do saal se tantra mantra chal rahe hain Netaji ke upper ek Kailashanand hai, ek Rajasthan ka hai, ek MP ka hai. Ek tractor narial chadh chuke hain Saifai mein Shivpal ke ghar par. Akhilesh ka bura karne ke liye aur Netaji ko vash me karne ke liye .
(There have been attempts to harm Akhilesh and Mulayam with the help of tantriks and the occult) – the report quoted Ram Gopal Yadav as saying in his letter to Mulayam and Akhilesh.
The report also said that Akhilesh supporters believed that Shivpal was using black magic against him and Mulayam because Mulayam broke his promise of making him the CM after three years.
The developments came days after a close aide of the CM, MLC Udayveer Singh, was expelled from the Samajwadi Party. Udayveer was sacked a few days after he shot off a stinging letter to Mulayam accusing his second wife of hatching a conspiracy against the chief minister.
The letter also accused Akhilesh’s stepmother of using sorcery against him. Black magic is often practised in rural India as some people believe it can help childless women to bear children, cure illnesses and produce more rainfall. The political chasm between father and son owes much to Shivpal, who is not Akhilesh Yadav’s favourite uncle.
Ram Gopal Yadav is Shivpal’s long-time rival and has been championing Akhilesh as the “true and most popular leader” of the party. If political pundits are to be believed, Akhilesh was nowhere in the picture before the 2012 assembly elections and, overwhelmed by the clean sweep, Mulayam decided to hand over the baton to his son. This not only surprised Shivpal, who had assumed that he was the successor to the ageing Mulayam, but also made him angry.
The obsession with black magic is not just limited to SP though. A report in Daily Mail stated that according to a leading astrology guru in Chennai, Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa has been in hospital since September because she is a victim of black magic.
Before the Bihar election in 2015, a video clip showing Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar seeking the benediction of an unknown tantrik had gone viral.
On 16 February last year in Bengaluru, Congress workers were horrified when they found lemon, chilly, vermilion and other unknown materials wrapped in red cloth in the premises of the party head office. Congress had alleged Janata Dal (Secular) had performed black magic after losing the office building in a legal battle, another report in India Today had said.
On 26 October 2014, when Manohar Lal Khattar was being sworn-in as Haryana chief minister, BJP workers in black clothes were not allowed to enter the venue and were told to remove the black clothes as they were considered to be unlucky.
Similarly, in Maharashtra, senior Shiv Sena leader Mohan Rawale’s obsession with wearing the ‘lucky’ colour yellow during campaigning for elections is so intense that once, he had recalled about 1.5 lakh campaign posters because they showed him wearing shirts of other colours.
A report in The Indian Express said that historian William Dalrymple had noted in his book Nine Lives that many politicians in Bengal and Bihar “not only worshipped skulls but also offered animal sacrifices to the goddess before standing for election.”
Maybe the link between politics and superstition has something to do with the fact that a large section in India is superstitious. After all, politicians tend to support the beliefs of the people. The list goes on and on.
Should superstition have a legitimate place in Indian politics ? Leave your views in the comments section below.