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Human chains, doorstep campaigns, yajnas: How BJP is targeting Congress over PM ‘security lapse’

Experts say BJP is building narrative that there was a design behind what home ministry called 'major security lapse', when PM's convoy was stranded on flyover in Punjab Wednesday.

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New Delhi: Stepping up its campaign against the Congress over an alleged security breach in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy route in Punjab Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is preparing to go door-to-door to speak to people about this incident. It will also form human chains across the country to protest against it. 

Coming ahead of assembly elections in five states, political observers see these moves as an attempt by the BJP to send out a message that there was a “design” behind the security breach.

The BJP held two-hour-long silent protests across the country at statues of Mahatma Gandhi Friday. BJP leaders said the party’s Scheduled Caste Morcha had also decided to assemble at statues of Dr B.R. Ambedkar across India and raise slogans about the Congress “killing democracy and the Constitution”. 

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also organised a yajna for PM Modi’s long life Friday, while Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi offered prayers at the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. 

State-level BJP leaders have been asked to meet governors and present a memorandum about the Congress’ alleged role in the security breach. All the party’s morchas (wings) will conduct separate programmes.

“We will be meeting the Telangana governor tomorrow to apprise him of what happened with our PM, and that he should deliver our message to the President,” said K. Laxman, head of the BJP’s OBC morcha. 

On Thursday, the BJP had addressed a number of press conferences and organised candlelight marches, while leaders including Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan chanted the Mahamrityunjaya mantra for the long life and safety of the PM. 

Modi’s scheduled visit to Ferozepur in Punjab Wednesday was cancelled when his cavalcade was stuck at a flyover due to protesting farmers blocking the road to the city, after he couldn’t take a helicopter from Bathinda airport due to inclement weather. This led to a blame game between the BJP and the Congress, which rules the state.

Also read: PM Modi could have been killed by drone or telescopic gun, claims Union Minister Giriraj Singh

Main bhi chowkidar’ 2.0

According to a senior BJP leader, the party is still strategising about its plan of action, but many have compared this to the ‘main bhi chowkidar(‘I too am a watchman’) campaign launched by the BJP in 2019 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. 

“A number of Twitter handles have already changed their handles to ‘I am Modi” to show solidarity with the cause, and many in the BJP are also planning to follow suit,” said the leader. 

The BJP’s Minority Morcha has burnt effigies of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, and is planning to continue its protests over the next few days. “All the state units have been registering their protests in a different manner. This is a serious issue and this is our way of highlighting it,” said Minority Morcha president Jamal Siddiqui. 

Former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, now an ally of the BJP, has already demanded the imposition of President’s Rule in the state. However, the BJP itself remains non-committal on this issue. 

“This is a serious issue, and in our meeting with the Punjab governor, we have demanded that Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who holds the home portfolio, and acting police chief Siddharth Chattopadhyaya be sacked immediately,” said BJP Punjab president Ashwani Sharma. 

As for the demand for the dismissal of the Channi-led government, Sharma told ThePrint, “The survival of this government is only for a few days. We leave it to the people to decide what should be done. As far as the security lapse issue is concerned, we will go door-to-door and show the people the real face of the Congress, which is not even able to provide security to the country’s PM.” 

A senior BJP leader who did not wish to be named said the party “might not have a major stake in Punjab”, but the issue of the security lapse has national repercussions. “If they can’t keep our PM safe, how can they keep the state safe? This is an important issue, and he is not only the BJP’s PM but our country’s PM,” the leader said.

BJP national spokesperson R.P. Singh added: “We have demanded a central inquiry into the matter as we can’t trust the state government. This is not an issue to be taken lightly. Channi has already become a hot favourite of radicals and forces of disintegration, and it seems (Delhi CM) Arvind Kejriwal will also devise some plans to regain his slot among radicals.” 

Also read: Hindu voters in UP don’t need extremism and call for violence for them to vote BJP

Creating a ‘narrative’, ‘demonising’ opposition

Experts said the security lapse may not be an electoral issue, but it helps in creating a larger narrative. 

“The BJP is trying to create a narrative in its favour through this: That when they (the opposition) can’t defeat us in elections, they try to use unethical means. The idea is to showcase this security lapse as a ploy by the Congress to eliminate or hurt the PM,” Sanjay Kumar, professor at Delhi-based think-tank Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), told ThePrint.

“With the way the BJP has held press conferences and had leaders praying for the PM’s well-being in temples, a narrative is being built that there was indeed a threat to the PM’s life. I am not suggesting that there wasn’t. But they are trying to convince the people that it wasn’t a security lapse but a design,” Kumar said.

“While it may not be an issue of voting, it certainly helps in creating a larger narrative that the BJP cares for the people — and that the opposition, which is unable to win elections, is anti-national, uses unethical means, and can even conspire to kill the PM. So, they are presenting a demonising image of the opposition,” he added.

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

Also read: A ‘classic case of lack of coordination’ among agencies: Experts on PM security breach


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