‘It is our curse & tears’: Hijabi students on BJP’s loss in Karnataka election 2023

Karnataka state government last year banned hijabs in educational institutions, which the High Court later upheld. | TCN Photo

Snobar Khan and Syed Mueen, TwoCircles.net

Basavaraj Bommai, former Chief Minister of Karnataka, conceded defeat on May 13, 2023, as the Congress took the lead after defeating the BJP and winning 137 seats in the Assembly elections. He stated that his party had failed to make an impact and would return in the Loksabha election of 2024 with more power.

Support TwoCircles

However, there are a number of factors that contributed to the BJP’s defeat in the state and victory for the Congress party.

After the election results, TwoCircles.Net reached out to a number of hijabi students and activists who fought for their right to get education while wearing a hijab in Karnataka to learn about their perspectives on the defeat of the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.
Niyif Ashfi, one of the Hijabi activists who played a leading role in the pro-Hijab agitations, stated, “It is the curse and tears of Hijabi students that has kicked the BJP out of the state.”.

“The political leaders of the BJP did everything in their power to fulfill their agenda of hatred and demonise Muslims, but our tearful prayers to God defeated them,” she added.
BJP leader and Karnataka’s Ex- Minister of Education, BC Nagesh, who had imposed the ban on hijab in the state’s educational institutions and called for an economic boycott of Muslims, lost the Tiptur constituency.

Nagesh was one of the several prominent Hindutva party leaders who suffered electoral defeat.

Hazra, a hijabi activist from Udupi, said it is a big victory for all the Muslim hijabi students. Now students will be happy if this government revokes the new rules of the hijab ban and follows the old rules when there was no ban on hijab in schools and colleges.

“I hope that time will come now when Muslim women students can enroll in any of the colleges in Karnataka wearing their hijab. And enjoy their right guaranteed by the constitution under Article 21.

However, during this election, Congress did not mention the hijab issue. But last year, in 2022, amid growing controversy over the wearing of hijab in educational institutes, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said had tweeted, “By letting students’ hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India. Ma Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn’t differentiate”.

Congress has somewhere used the hijab ban, halal, etc. as a tool to accumulate Muslim votes in many places, and Muslims supported Congress with hopes of having a pro-people government.

“We will wait and watch what the Congress government will do next. The people of Karnataka united against the anti-people policies of the BJP and voted against them”, Hazra said.

Gowsiya, a student of Mangalore who was forced to change her college when hijab was banned by her college, said, ‘till the new Government revokes the hijab ban, we cannot say it is our victory’.

“We should not forget that the Muslim Congress-winning MLA, UT Khadar, was also significantly equally responsible the hijab ban, aand denying our constitutional right to wear hijab. Khadar had initially told us to go to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc if we want to wear the hijab”. Gowsiya contended.

She added that the Congress government should make plans to ensure that no extremist groups disrupt society in the future while also ensuring that girls have access to education and the fundamental right to wear hijab.

Talking about girls who discontinued their education due to the Hijab ban should be given another opportunity to enroll again and continue with their studies wearing their hijab. college.

Amid the hijab controversy in Karnataka in 2022, Congress senior leader UT Khadar advised the Muslim female students at Mangalore University College who were protesting to follow the law rather than engage in protest. He also asked them to visit Muslim nations to understand and acknowledge the culture of Indian democracy and cautioned them against taking the freedoms guaranteed by the Indian Constitution for granted.
Ashfi, a Hijabi activist, remarked, “Will Congress keep their promise of banning Bajrang Dal for causing communal strife in the state, as menionted in the Congress Party manifesto?”
Mentioning the previous term’s elections and its result when despite Congress being elected, how the Government was actually formed by the BJP, she said , “Defeating the BJP is still a question for us because during the last elections people had elected Congress who failed to live upto the hopes and expectations of the people of Karnataka paving way for the BJP to rule the state”.

Now, the only responsibility of the Congress government is to take unequivocal action against the BJP’s communal politics and counter the propaganda,” Imran PJ, an intellectual writer and political analyst, said.

While the defeat of BJP has given the Muslim Hijabi students hope that they can now continue their education wearing their hijabs, they also worry about whether Congress will be able to keep its promises made in its manifesto, such as banning Bajrang dal for inciting communal violence and attacking minorities on the basis of religion.

It seems that the promises that Congress made during the election are now in the spotlight with the people of Karnataka.

On asking about the BJP’s defeat in the state, Hazra said that the people of Karnataka chose love over hatred. The BJP government came up with their communal policies to divide people and play dirty hatred politics, such as the hijab ban, Halal vs. Jhatka, the anti-conversion law, the anti-cow slaughter law, and removed  Muslim 4% OBC reservation quota and, moreover, a 40% corrupt government. With the new hopes of Congress winning the 2023 elections, we have hopes that it will bring change and restore our constitutional rights and values.”

Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, said on Saturday that his party’s win in Karnataka elections against BJP is a victory of love over the politics of hate.
“We contested the Karnataka polls with love, not hate; ‘nafrat ka bazaar band hua’, ‘mohabbat ki dukaanein’ khul gayi,” he said while addressing the media.

Addressing the Hijabi students who fought for their right to education, political analyst from Shimoga, Ra Chintan, said, “Your prayers are working. Tears are coming to an end for children, and the communal BJP government, which kept you away from studying because of religion (Hijab), has been kicked out by the socialist people of our (Karunadu) Karnataka. There is no hindrance to your future. Study well and help build a model Karnataka! I love you, Karnataka.”