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A Faustian bargain for the BJP?

A Faustian bargain for the BJP?


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech invoking religious symbolism at an election rally in Rajasthan's Banswara was bold. It was also surprising, given that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was so confident in its ability to secure a third term that it dropped its usual agitators in this election, like Nalin Kateel in Dakshina Kannada, Pragya Singh Thakur in Bhopal, and even Ramesh Bidhuri in south Delhi. The BJP may have felt that the leaders who were needed to mobilize Hindu sentiments before the previous Lok Sabha elections were no longer needed. With the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya finally becoming a reality, an aggressive Hindu posturing was unnecessary, the party perhaps believed. But, just when people thought the BJP was adopting a new, softer avatar, this came as a surprise. Through a single speech, Prime Minister Modi managed to construct an electoral narrative centered on the fact that Hindus would be threatened if the Congress came to power.

Attacking the Manifesto

The story was not constructed from a one-off mention. Prime Minister Modi followed his speech in Banswara with a similar speech the next day in Aligarh in western Uttar Pradesh, where he denounced the Congress, saying the party planned to “grab the wealth of Hindu women to redistribute it among minorities. The latter was quick to demand measures against the Prime Minister, but nothing dissuaded him. For the third consecutive day, at a rally in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, he again warned voters against the dangers of voting for the Congress.

Modi's plan of attack was clearly based on the Congress manifesto and election promises, which included an annual sum of Rs 1 lakh for women. Parts of the manifesto, read alongside disputed remarks by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006, were interpreted by Prime Minister Modi as inferring that if the Congress came to power, it would redistribute wealth among those “who have more than 'children' (by which he obviously meant Muslims). He also cited the “urban naxal mentality” of Rahul Gandhi's advisors and asserted that the Congress would not even spare the “mangalsutra” of his “mothers and sisters”. He based his claims on the Congress manifesto's promise of a nationwide socio-economic survey and caste census. “Based on the data, we will strengthen the affirmative action agenda”, the document reads. However, although it was reported that in a speech in Hyderabad, Rahul had said that the Congress would redistribute wealth among minorities, the party has now rejected such claims The manifesto also does not mention such “redistribution”.

Congress in decline?

Ultimately, the result of PM Modi's speeches is that the Congress is now on the defensive regarding its agenda. The grand old party, which claims to respect the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), has sought action from the ECI, saying the “mangalsutra“Images can ignite community feelings.” Shehzada [prince] of Congress says that if their government comes to power, they will investigate who earns how much, who owns how much property… Our mothers and sisters have gold. It is 'Streedhan', it is considered sacred, the law also protects it. Now the eyes of these people are turned towards the 'mangalsutra“women. Their intention is to steal gold from mothers and sisters… This is the thinking of Maovadi, this is the thinking of the communists,” Prime Minister Modi had said in his speech.

Beyond the opposition's demands for action against the Prime Minister, what is interesting is that many BJP leaders themselves are not comfortable with Modi talking about the alleged threat to Hindus. “Ideally, such concerns over the Congress manifesto should not have been raised by Prime Minister Modi himself. It is best left to the agitators. It should have been left to our second or third line leaders ” said a BJP MP from Karnataka. . But then, given that the party got rid of most of these radical leaders, who could point out these problems to the BJP? This is probably why Prime Minister Modi chose to make such comments himself.

A difficult first phase

A section of the BJP also feels that PM Modi's statements could be linked to the experience of the first phase of polling on April 19, which many believe may not have worked in the BJP's favor. It is also likely that this time around many party officials are unwilling to do the heavy lifting, feeling disappointed by the choice of candidates and the fact that tickets have been given to many of those who come. to leave the Congress or the AAP. or other opposition parties. Naveen Jindal sent from Kurukshetra and Ashok Chavan hosted in Rajya Sabha are some examples. These leaders came with baggage, and “we will have to wait and see the impact of Chavan's induction in Marathwada”, said a BJP leader.

An RSS leader, meanwhile, says Prime Minister Modi's aim could be to push people to vote. “These changes may not affect voters, they can all still have confidence in Modiji and vote for him. But again, this 400 campaign pair' [Mission 400] This could prove counterproductive as voters may not be sufficiently motivated to go to the polls if they believe that Prime Minister Modi is sure to be elected, with or without them. It is highly likely that Modi leveraged the Hindu cause to motivate people to vote… In fact, when Modi raised prejudice against Hindus in the Congress manifesto, BJP leader JP Nadda simultaneously spoke about the issue of “love jihad” in Congress. -led by Karnataka. He visited the family of Neha Hiremath, the daughter of a Congress corporator, who was a victim. With the ongoing elections, the party is tackling issues close to the people,” he said.

However, in an election year, mobilizing Hindu votes with such speeches could prove to be a Faustian bargain for Prime Minister Modi, a bargain that could cost him the goodwill gained among the country's Muslims during the last decade thanks to its good governance policies.

(Lakshmi Iyer is a journalist who has been covering politics for four decades in Delhi and Mumbai. She is on X@lyre)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author




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