Narendra Modi and Amit Shah | File photo: T. Narayan | Bloomberg
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah | Photo: T. Narayan | Bloomberg
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With China emerging as the main enemy in recent months, the Bharatiya Janata Party will have to find a new ‘other’ to whip up sentiments ahead of the Bihar assembly election beginning 28 October. China doesn’t do the job because it hardly evokes the same anger or hatred that Pakistan does among a majority of Indians to suit the BJP.

Pakistan-bashing has always been the favourite pre-election rhetoric of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s BJP, mainly because it echoes across states — from Gujarat to Assam. Pakistan is an easy target, a toxic, blood-thirsty and, most importantly, Muslim neighbour. It immediately triggers an emotion of being the ‘other’ that needs to be taught a lesson, and that of course, can only be tackled by Prime Minister Modi’s ‘56-inch chest’. For BJP’s core voter, it suffices that Pakistan is an Islamic state, and the projection of it being the perpetual aggressor adds just the right seasoning.

But in the Bihar assembly election, given the overwhelming China factor and Islamabad in the background, Modi-shah will need to find a new target.

The BJP did try to create a new enemy with the Sushant Singh Rajput case and Rhea Chakraborty in the dock, but after the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) ruled out any foul play in the actor’s death, a lid has been put on this for the time being.

Even though the scales are tilted in the ruling BJP-JD(U)’s favour in the state, with the Opposition a splintered and weakened mess, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah would find a campaign too dull and mellow without identifying a clear ‘vicious’ enemy that can be persistently attacked to generate hatred among its electorate.


Also read: No rallies or roadshows, Bihar digital election is on WhatsApp, Facebook — BJP’s home turf


The persistent ‘Pakistan’ factor

What does a state election in Assam or Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh have to do with Pakistan? Why should Pakistan become central to an assembly election when there are far more pressing local issues?

These questions become irrelevant the moment the BJP enters the scene. For the BJP, Pakistan is often the prime issue. Pakistan is a seductive mix of being a Muslim state, an ‘unprovoked aggressor’ and an evergreen enemy. It also fits right into the BJP’s hardcore Hindutva politics, based on the demonisation of the Muslim community. ‘Go to Pakistan’ has become a favourite curse in this BJP regime, as if there is no worse punishment for those it doesn’t like or consider ‘Indian’.

The pattern is obvious. In the 2017 Gujarat assembly election, none less than the Prime Minister alleged that Pakistan was trying to influence the results, and talked of some “secret meeting” that took place at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence and was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh election earlier that year, Modi blamed the neighbouring country for a train derailment in Kanpur.

In the Delhi assembly election last year, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath brought in the P-word again, this time to insinuate that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had Pakistan’s backing.

The 2019 Lok Sabha election, of course, was preceded by high-octane Pakistan-bashing, with the Pulwama terror attack and India’s retaliation in Balakot providing the perfect ground. Rally after rally, address after address saw Pakistan emerge as the key theme.

In Assam, far from Pakistan and where immigration from Bangladesh is a far more relevant and passionate issue, BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma thundered during the campaign — “We need Modi as prime minister of India for another term as he does not care about Pakistan and within a short span of time, gave a befitting reply to the neighbouring country.”

In Kerala, while campaigning in Wayanad from where then-Congress president Rahul Gandhi was campaigning, Amit Shah had said he couldn’t make out whether it was India or Pakistan — a jibe at the response to Rahul’s nomination filing rally.

Modi-Shah’s BJP does not care that Pakistan is an irrelevant issue in a state election, it does not care if its members sound downright crude, and it does not care about being irresponsible when it uses a serious diplomatic issue for cheap election thrills. All it cares about is dropping the P-word as long as it could — and draw the thunderous applause and extra votes from its voters it has seemingly become quite used to.


Also read: Unlike Indira Gandhi, this is why Modi era isn’t producing strong new foes


The need for a new enemy

This year, however, has been all about China, with Pakistan relatively silent. The military stand-off in Ladakh that saw a clash at the Galwan Valley and Beijing’s constant belligerence at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has made China the clear enemy for now. Moreover, the border tension does not look like it will recede anytime soon.

China, however, is not half as easy to sell as the big election-season enemy. After all, it lacks the other big quotient in the BJP’s worldview — Muslim.

Can China have the same impact on the BJP’s Hindu voter? Can it stir the same animal, revenge-seeking, ‘we hate you with all the strength we have’ emotion? Of course not.

Add to this the fact that Beijing is no Islamabad. It is already breathing down our necks in Ladakh, and is hardly going to take kindly to brazen bashing by Modi and Shah during elections. Remember Amit Shah’s Aksai Chin remark in Parliament last year, claiming that the Modi government will gain control over it? What has happened since then is for everyone to see. Amit Shah may have shown bravado and got a clap or two from his domestic constituency, but Beijing most certainly wasn’t amused.

For the Bihar election, it now seems the BJP relied much more on the Sushant Singh Rajput case than the benefits it could potentially draw from it and sustain the momentum generated by the initial furore to carry it all the way through the polling dates. The AIIMS report and Rhea Chakraborty’s bail have all but poured water on its plans.

Another campaign frenzy that has fallen by the wayside for the BJP is the Bangladeshi immigrant issue. With the new citizenship law in place and the plan for a nationwide NRC exercise now on hold, the ‘illegal’ immigrant issue doesn’t seem like it could pay rich dividends either.

A fresh enemy, therefore, is what the BJP would be looking for in the Bihar election, as well as the important polls in the next few years — West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh among others — if the Pakistan-China equation remains as it is.

Dealing with Pakistan’s aggression when China is already posing a frightening threat would be nothing short of a nightmare for the Modi government. And yet, Pakistan receding into the shadows poses a strange problem for the Modi-Shah duo, whose brains must be ticking super-fast to find a suitable replacement.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. The article is apt and clear. It has presented the inner thougts of the leaders of BJP. But how long the hate politics will continue? Since it is resorted to at the cost of our country’s development it is better if such hate rhetorics stop sooner. The elections campaign should go on only on development narratives.

    • Such media report event and situation in the country as “US” (Left/Liber/Pseudo secular/Elite group/Upper Cast) versus
      THEY (Mody/BJP/RSS/Nationalist/Hindu) mode. When the country is one and its development is the most we wish for
      I do not thinks such division in reporting and articles is needed?

  2. The duo has already identified the plot. On 25th Oct India will talk Chinese n the border issue resolved n 28th is election

  3. Third grade. Trash. This is not journalism. This is dirty job and not a surprise it is coming from The Print stable. Here every journo does a supari job everyday on Mofi and BJP,, Hindus and RSS. The author should tell the readers what new shameless stunt her boss, aka inept Gandhi scion, will need for the Bihar elections. His Hathras stunt and attempt to riot was caught as his right hand man Sheoron was caught on tape outlining congress’s evil strategy of killing people from both sides paving way for Rahul to come and start chestbeating. Does Ruhi Tiwari have the courage to write on this ,? Absolutely third class journalism.

    • Fully agree with you
      I dont how such journos keep dishing out so much trash
      Even if one sees speeches of various parties this petty minded journo can clear her cobwebs of assumptions which is mother of all the crew upshappening in her write up

  4. Don’t worry Ruhi, ‘homegrown’ potatoes always spoiled Bihari curry.
    Ruhi, please do read respective state-political history once a while, would help you in writing sense and who ate buffalo fodder?

  5. Regardless of the trope peddled in the article which is as substandard one can get, the alternative in Bihar is JDU+Congress – let that thought sink in and let that shudder you. Opposition to BJP is fine, as it should be in any democracy but just because you despise BJP due to your personal vendetta you cannot start supporting Kim Jong Un in case he stands in Bihar election!

  6. Once the partition of India is undone and our territory of Punjab, Sindh and Bengal are back in Indian administration, BJP will really find it hard to win elections as Pakistan will not exist. Perhaps Kanhaia kumar or similar politicians will then be able to win elections.

  7. What kind of trash journalist you are Ruhi.. This shit is politically motivated one. Do you know what Pakistan and China are doing at borders. You have provided them cover fire in the name of election..

    Dolt, do you know how many bomb blasts took place before 2014.

  8. by writing 1/2k words story does not mean that what ur writing is absolutely true. from ur story its seems like a page3 gossip column who comes in a week. writing these types of story ur limiting ursele to a comic writer..

  9. Lalu and Nitish are two enemies of Bihar . Don t you know ? It is mal administeration by these two arrogant persons that Bihari s have remained buctt of jokes in different parts of India in spite of people of Bihar having talent and inclination for hard work . Bihar can be saved by the people of Bihar by sending these two to oblivion

  10. Muslims and congress bashing along with ssr issue and china issue fighting( hiding lying about fact that india has lost many of its land under congress and bjp rule) will be enough for bjp along with some riots will be enough for bjp to win bihar

  11. A solemn moment for the subcontinent. Bangladesh has surpassed India in terms of per capita income. True, only by $ 4 a year, the cost of a Starbucks latte, but the “ termites “ are having the last laugh. With millions of Bihari migrants having returned home and time on their hands, they could expect a call from Dacca. Aap hamare paas aa jaeeye, we consider the workman worthy of his hire. As for China, don’t exp3ct the word to be uttered, least of all on the campaign trail.

  12. Oh, what a fall to suffer
    Alike the great and the duffer
    From lofty perches of “a tryst with fate”
    To the stinking fumes of toxic hate.

    Choking the vital life-blood itself ;
    Of our great mother and our own selves.
    Once nourished by founding fathers,
    Now in the wild left to flounder.

    I well remember how we once preened
    Democracy one and all screamed
    Now we can see only a screen
    To hide the sight of broken dreams.

  13. Poohi is a CONGRASS journalist.

    1) We think corruption in earlier regime is a BIG ENEMY

    2) We think nepotism of the opposition parties with the political parties being enslaved by a FAMILY is a GREAT ENEMY.

    3) We think that JIHADIST will be allowed FREE hand if the opposition parties win is a GREAT ENEMY.

    4) We think that proselytizers promoting Maoist insurgency to promote conversion of TRIBALS is a GREAT ENEMY.

    5) We think that instead of DEVELOPMENT promoting of CASTE POLITICS is a GREAT ENEMY.

    6) We think that requesting of PAPER BALLOT by spreading FAKE NEWS that EVM can be tampered with and hence trying to bring back JUNGLE RAJ via BOOTH CAPTURING is a GREAT ENEMY.

    Poohi wants to bring back JUNGLE RAJ so rent a journalist like her will be back as power brokers . That’s another GREAT ENEMY.

  14. In this election opposition is very weak until some miracle happen so they may not need a new enemy but there will be next time “Hindu Kharte mein hai”

  15. The Great Indian Hate Trick perfected by Modiji and Co from the Congress which believed in a version of the Great Indian Rope trick.

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