Tuesday, 24 May, 2022
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Modi’s BJP lashes out at opposition for ignoring development but abandoned the plank itself

Modi government is unashamedly resorting to anti-Muslim statements and religious or emotional issues to win the elections.

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A few days ago, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union minister Maneka Gandhi told Muslims in Uttar Pradesh’s Sultanpur to be careful about their voting choices in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Addressing a gathering of Muslims in Sultanpur, which votes 6 May, the BJP candidate from the constituency said: “I am winning…But if my victory is without the Muslims, I will not feel very good. If Muslims come (to me after elections) for some work, I will think ‘why bother, what difference does it make’. After all, getting a job is a lot like bargaining. We are not Mahatma Gandhi’s children to keep giving without getting anything in return.”

In reality, Maneka Gandhi wasn’t talking about jobs but trading of votes, which was not only an open violation of the model code of conduct but also the democratic norms. Thankfully, the Election Commission took note of it and besides banning her from campaigning in the elections for 48 hours also issued a warning to her not to make such remarks again.

Does a senior politician like Maneka Gandhi need to be reminded that no candidate ever achieves 100 per cent votes in her constituency? Despite the so-called wave in 2014, Narendra Modi-led BJP could manage only 31 per cent votes. It also means that 69 per cent people had rejected the BJP. If Maneka Gandhi’s theory is to be accepted, then the government should provide jobs to only those 31 per cent who voted for it and keep the remaining 69 per cent unemployed.

But the basic essence of the democratic electoral process is such that there is no theoretical role for a concept such as “animosity”. As soon as a candidate wins an election, she becomes the elected representative of everyone in her constituency. It does not matter who voted for her and who did not; all such notions are automatically pushed under the carpet. Does Maneka Gandhi not know this?

Also read: Arun Jaitley is wrong, Modi has used his caste 4 times in last 15 days to attack opposition

Amid all this, BJP leader Ranjit Bahadur Srivastava, from Barabanki, delivered yet another anti-Muslim remark. Srivastava told voters that “if they want to destroy the Muslims, then they must vote for Modi”.

While campaigning, Uttar Pradesh chief minister has also been delivering anti-Muslim statements unabashedly. On one occasion he termed the Congress, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as the followers of Hazrat Ali while the BJP was advocated Hindu god Bajrang Bali.

With such remarks, Adityanath was trying to paint Hazrat Ali and the Congress as “anti-Hindus”.

It need not be said that behind these statements, the real motive of the BJP is to polarise anti-Muslim votes. They are making all efforts to label the opposition as “jamat” of Muslims and portray the BJP as a natural choice for Hindus. All this might get the BJP some votes, but in the larger context it could damage India’s shared legacy of communal harmony.

Also read: Opposition parties will have to copy Modi’s permanent campaign trick, sooner or later

But Adityanath did not stop with just one remark. He declared that parties like the SP, the BSP and the Congress are infected by the “green virus”. He had to later delete this tweet. Another BJP leader Giriraj Singh, who is infamous for delivering communally divisive statements and is contesting from Begusarai in Bihar, took Adityanath’s theory a step forward and demanded a blanket ban on green flags because it conveys “a feeling of being in Pakistan”.

Is it right to associate the green colour with Islam, Muslims or Pakistan? Absolutely not. The green flag is not associated only with Indian Union Muslim League or Pakistan. A crucial fact has been repeatedly suppressed: green color feature prominently in flags of all parties who fight for social justice. Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal has a green flag. Even the BJP’s flag is one-third green.

Green colour has its own importance. It is a symbol of nature and life. It is a vital element of tribal festival Sarhul where the tribal people don green attires, such as loincloth, saree, kurta etc, and participate in community dance. During the pious month of savan Hindu women of Bihar welcome the rainy season with green bangles and green sarees. Going by Yogi and Giriraj’s logic these women, just like SP, BSP and Congress, might be affected with Green Virus too.

Actually, Giriraj Singh was under tremendous pressure due to tough challenge posed by opposition candidates and so he was trying to give his campaign a communal tone. During his electoral campaign, he tried to present himself as the “lion of Hindus.” He also issued a new warning to the Muslims. If they do not utter Vande Matram, they will not get even “three haath jameen (land measured thrice by a human hand)” for burial rites. If Muslims will get two yards of land after uttering Vande Matram, what will they need to do to avail other basic facilities such as healthcare, education, employment etc?

Also read: Modi says Opposition has money power, but BJP earned double that of Congress since 2013

On top of all this, the BJP has further vitiated the atmosphere by fielding Malegaon terror blasts accused Pragya Thakur from Bhopal. After getting the party ticket, she “proudly” declared being part of the mob that had demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya because it was “like a black spot” in the country.

A bigger paradox here is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has always chided the opposition for ignoring development. But now it has completely abandoned the development narrative for its electoral campaigning. Instead of talking about its development-related agenda, the Modi government is unashamedly resorting to anti-Muslim statements and religious or emotional issues to win the elections. The main motive is to communalize the entire electoral process. The point to ponder is that whether it is acceptable to attack the pillars of democracy just to fetch additional votes?

The author is a Research Scholar from JNU. His research topic is All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Views are personal.

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  1. Difficult to carry such a large nation on emotive issues alone, at a time when each household is hurting.

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