BJP V/s Congress :Polltime Pole Dance
Polls pulverize political parties, making them explore the range of antics from about turns to headstands. With love at a discount, all is fair in war and elections.
Gujarat, which is poll bound a week from now, is a case in point .Here we have the sanctimonious spectacle of the Congress vice-chief going temple hopping and the BJP prime minister’s partymen courting maulvis to convass for them.
In what is increasingly veering towards a tight fight with the Congress playing the caste card as well if not better than BJP, the ruling party is realizing to it’s chagrin that there can be no pariahs in this poll, where every vote will count.
More so with the Congress strategizing to neutralise the BJP propaganda of muslim appeasement through a conscious resort to soft hindutva. If the BJP is perturbed over Gandhi’s temple visits(20 in the last 50 days),the congress seems disturbed over news that a team of maulvis shall be campaigning for the BJP in minority dominated areas of gujarat.
On November 10, a meeting of the Congress minority cell was held to chalk out a plan to deal with the situation. Thereafter it was decided that teams of their cell will resort to ‘gandhigiri’ in areas where the maulvis descend for campaigning.”We will go to the area and with folded hands urge the clerics to concentrate on performing their religious duties and keep away from politics”, said a cell member who did not want to be identified. Sources within the Gujarat BJP also indicate that the Rashtriya Muslim Manch, an affiliate of the RSS is sending in a contingent of muslim clerics from BJP ruled states to reach out to the minority voters.
Though the BJP has shied away from fielding muslim candidates, it has already dispatched a contingent of muslims from Maharashtra, owing allegiance to their minority morcha, to campaign in Surat. The contingent is led by their national vice-president Irfan Ahmed. Surat and surrounding areas including neighbouring Bharuch have a fair concentration of muslims.
A central Gujarat muslim cleric who had joined the BJP with his followers, however has reservations about the efficacy of imports with the local muslim populace.”The local leaders have a better understanding of the people and their bent of mind and will therefore be any day more effective than those who come from outside”, he felt.
In fact,Prime Minister Modi’s first ever visit to the Sidi Saiyed mosque along with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September needs to be seen in the critical importance of the ensuing elections and the need to leave no stone unturned to score points.
The entire visit of the Japanese Prime Minister-the Modi-Abe road show in Ahmedabad, the foundation stone laying for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train and the Indo - Japanese business summit ,just three months before the elections- are all seen as part of the party’s pre-poll propaganda.
Modi as Chief Minister had refused to wear a skull cap offered by a muslim delegation during his Sadbhavana fast in September 2011 at Ahmedabad. Interestingly, the Prime Minister early this month received a muslim delegation which also tied a headgear on him.
Help for the besieged BJP may also be forthcoming from the Uttar Pradesh headquartered Rashtriya Ulema Council(RUC) which has already gone to town claiming that if the BJP and the Congress do not meet it’s demand for allotting at least 18 seats it will put up it’s candidates in Gujarat as independents. The RUC had put up 50 candidates in the UP polls and indirectly aided the BJP by splitting the muslim votes. A similar scene may follow suit in Gujarat to split the anti-BJP votes. This is besides the Modi move to drive a wedge in the Congress muslim vote bank by seeking to win over the womenfolk via the triple talaq route !
Modi earned encomiums as the ‘hindu hriday samrat’(hindu heart throb) in post-Godhra Gujarat ,more so after his statewide ‘Gaurav yatra’ which saw rabid muslim bashing but brought him bountiful seats in the elections that followed in 2002. However no sooner he acquired national ambitions manifested in the three day Sadbhavana fast in September 2011, he sought to open a line to the minority community through Ahmedabad based businessman Zafar Sareshwala who was subsequently appointed chancellor of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad after Modi became the Prime Minister.
None of this has however prevented covert attempts at communalizing the situation as voting day nears. A cyber campaign is underway, built around communal issues. The campaign goes with the tagline” Congress is coming to fool you”.Some sample sentences go this way:”once Indira Gandhi won elections with cow as the poll symbol.Today Congress seeks to win an election eating cow. Stay alert Congress is coming to fool you”. Congress which had said that Ram is a fictional figure is now visiting temples and seeking votes. Stay alert, Congress is coming to fool you. Another says” Rahul Khan had said temple goers tease women, is now going to temples in Gujarat. Stay alert, Congress is coming to fool you. Congress which called 100 crore hindus ‘saffron terrorists’ today speaks of harmony. Stay alert, Congress is coming to fool you. Congress did nt pay heed to the plight of kashmiri pundits and now goes to court for Rohingiyas. Stay alert. Congress is coming to fool you”.
These and many such messages are floating around cyberia through wts app and other such applications. As polling day nears so do the messages get more vicious. A video clip doing the rounds shows the anxiety of a parent couple waiting for their daughter to return. Then it switches to the scared daughter walking home in the backdrop of the azan being heard. As the daughter walks into the home, the worried parents breathe a sigh of relief and are heard saying ’twenty-two years ago this was the state of affairs when women were not safe’.Then the daughter is heard answering that such a situation will never occur again as Gujarat has Modi. The clip ends with a tagline” your vote, your safety’. Sources say more such clips are in the pipeline woven around the fear of muslims and the strong hindu leader image of Modi.
The BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya has however denied that his party has anything to do with this campaign though the Congress claims it is indeed the work of the ruling party.””It is quite simple. Who seeks to gain by sowing fear and creating insecurity in the minds of the people. Obviously the BJP” counters Dr Manish Doshi of the Congress.
His party has launched an official counter campaign which includes numerous memes with the tagline” Gujarat ne daraoso nahin’(Don’t scare Gujarat).It talks of atrocities on patidars, dalits, sexual exploitation of women in Naliya, Kutch and numerous other issues as well.
A scare was generated recently when red cross marks were noticed outside the gates of muslim societies in Paldi area of Ahmedabad. Complaints to the Election Commission had the police swinging into action and coming up with an explanation that it was the handiwork of an overzealous municipal corporation supervisor who had marked stoppage locations for the civic garbage truck .Muslim residents remain unconvinced but would prefer to wait and watch.
You too.Wait and Watch !