In the run-up to the 2014 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met a bunch of Muslim clerics. In one such meeting, a cleric tried to place a skull cap on Modi’s head. But the latter politely declined to wear the skull cap, and the cleric obliged accordingly.
Back then, I was of the opinion that Modi should have worn the skull cap, which would have helped him win a few Muslim voters. But now, when Mamata Banerjee brought up her ‘gotra‘ at a public rally, it made me realise how naïve I was back then. Modi politely declining to wear the skull cap shows how smart of a politician he is.
To make my argument clearer, let’s assume he had agreed to wear the skull cap. This would have weakened his Hindu nationalist image and people who voted for him because of this aspect of his politics would not have liked this stunt. Across the aisle, people who were critical or disapproved of his Hindu nationalist ideology would have criticised him, describing it as a cheap political stunt.
It wouldn’t have cleared the apprehensions that the minority generally has about him, either. Also, no one is that naïve that Modi wearing a skull cap would have made someone vote for him. So, declining politely was the most brilliant way out without incurring collateral damages.
Opposition falls for BJP’s bait
There is a length in cricket called teasing (“baiting”) length and it is a length that lures batsman into playing a drive, but often the ball ends up nicking the bat and batsman gets caught behind.
This analogy is quite apt for today’s political scenario — the BJP is the bowler and the Opposition is the rusty batsman unable to time the ball. If you follow closely, BJP strategically lays a trap for the Opposition, and the latter walks right into it.
For example, during the the Gujarat elections, Rahul Gandhi was on a temple run, proving the BJP’s allegation of the Congress being opportunistic Hindu. The election was close enough because of the alliances that Congress made and not because of the temple run.
Again when the government scrapped Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress either voted in favour or abstained from voting — in a way, dancing to the tunes of the BJP.
The 2019 elections saw Arvind Kejriwal flexing his Hindu identity. The Delhi government’s recent Budget marks Kejriwal’s sharp turn to the Right, once again playing into the hands of the BJP.
The Rafale issue crash-landed even before it had taken off with the BJP cleverly turning the question around by saying the Congress was insensitive towards India’s national security. Meanwhile, Congress kept insinuating foul play without backing it with proper facts and figures.
The BJP sets the stage for a campaign and the Opposition fights the election rebutting the BJP.
Instead, it should have its own agenda to fight every election. The Opposition should also attack the Achilles’ heel of the BJP — the economy, migrant crisis, employment to name a few and not try to break the BJP’s defence. The opposition parties are lost in the maze of proving that they are not BJP by doing things that BJP does best.
Mamata Banerjee bringing her gotra into the picture is yet another example of how the BJP baits the Opposition.
The Opposition needs to first practise the drive perfectly before hitting the ball for a boundary. The sooner they realise this, the better it would be for them and India’s democracy. You can’t beat BJP in its own game.
Harshit Padia is a student Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat