Religion inspired violence in South Asia, particularly in India, is often considered outside the broad category of political violence and is described as ‘riots.’ There are also instances where violence between Hindus and Muslims has been analyzed as a distinct category; in a similar vein, ethnic violence is discussed and debated as if they are apolitical or non-political phenomenon. But in a competitive democratic polity, neither religion inspired, nor ethnicity driven violence are bereft of political calculation of the political elites. Often these incidences of violence are engineered and perpetrated with electoral considerations in mind; violence in Gujarat in 2002 and, Mumbai in 1992, and anti-Sikh riots in 1984 are cases in point. The overall political landscape and environment play a significant role in shaping the nature of the violence and the responses of political elites to the incidences of violence. This is not to ignore the role of religion and/or ethnicity as a factor of engendering distrust among communities, the use of symbols in the rhetoric of the perpetrators of such violence and as a powerful mobilization tool, but it is my contention that ‘riots’ seemingly of a religious nature should be examined within the broader political contexts. Through an exploration of the violence that took place between August and September 2013 in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, I intend to demonstrate how elite politics shaped the contour of this violence. The violence, I will further argue, is a reflection of a new form of politics in India that can be traced to the rise of right-wing Hindutva ideology and the growing support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The new politics show that ostensibly a ‘secular’ party, particularly when in power, behaves no differently than the religio-political parties like the BJP.