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Long live the people of Uttar Pradesh ! By Justice Katju

Justice Katju praises the people of Uttar Pradesh for their significant role in the recent parliamentary elections, which resulted in a major setback for the ruling BJP. He attributes this to UP's unique Ganga-Jamuna culture, historical inclusiveness, and the rejection of the BJP's divisive politics.


Justice Markandey Katju

7/6/20242 min read

Long live the people of Uttar Pradesh !

By Justice Katju

In the recent parliamentary elections in India, the state of Uttar Pradesh ( UP ), the biggest state in India with a population of 257 million, made the major contribution to the big set back to the ruling BJP, reducing its majority in parliament to a minority ( though Maharashtra, West Bengal and some other states also contributed ). The BJP, which won 62 out of the total of 80 UP seats in the Lok Sabha in the 2019 parliamentary elections, boasted they will get all 80 seats in the 2024 elections, but got only 33, a massive drop of 25 seats.

How did this happen ?

I have lived 58 out of my 78 years in UP, mostly in the eastern UP town of Allahabad, and know UP in and out.

While West Bengal has a Bengali ambience, Tamilnadu has a Tamil ambience, etc, UP has an all India ambience, and thus in a sense it represents the whole of India, and has no regional chauvinism.

People from all over India, Bengalis, Punjabis, South Indians, etc and even Muslims from Afghanistan, Persia, and the Middle East, came here to seek a livelihood, and all were welcomed and warmly embraced, and none made to feel unwanted or unwelcome.

I myself am a Kashmiri Pandit, and my grandfather Dr KN Katju came to UP to start law practice, and rose to great heights. Other Kashmiri Pandits who came to UP also prospered, and the local people gave us the highest respect.

What is it that makes UP unique in India ?

I submit it is the Ganga-Jamuna 'tehzeeb' ( culture ) which was cultivated by the Nawabs of Avadh and many others. rising above religious barriers

There is a recorded historical account of this.

Once it so happened around 1850 that coincidentally Holi and Muhaaram fell on the same day.

Holi is an occasion for joy, while Muharram is an occasion for sorrow. The Hindus in Lucknow, which was the capital of Avadh, the kingdom of the Nawabs of Avadh, decided not to celebrate Holi that year out of respect for the sentiments of their Muslim brethren.

The Nawab, Wajid Ali Shah, took the tazia from the Bada Imambara in Lucknow to Kerbala and buried it there. Then he enquired why Holi was not being played. He was told the reason.

Then the Nawab declared that since Hindus had respected the sentiments of their Muslim brethren, it was the duty of the Muslims, too, to respect the sentiments of their Hindu brethren.

Having said this he proclaimed that Holi will be celebrated the same day throughout Avadh, and he himself was the first to start playing Holi, although it was Muharram.

Lord Ram and Lord Krishna were said to have been born in UP, but they are worshipped by Hindus all over India. When I went to Chennai in 2004 to take over as Chief Justice of Madras High Court, the first temple I was taken to was the Parthasarthy ( Krishna ) temple.

One feature of UP must be mentioned in conclusion : its soil does not tolerate hatred for long, and this was the real cause of the BJP's undoing. For 10 years the BJP spouted venom against the Muslims, and incited hatred against them. When the soil ( matti ) of UP could take this no longer, because it was so alien to its intrinsic nature, it rose up, and gave the BJP a powerful rebuff it will long remember