VENKATESH KESARI | 16 OCTOBER, 2017
AHMEDABAD: The Bharatiya Janata Party, weighed down by the adverse impact of demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST), is gradually moving away from development towards the communal card in its election campaign in Gujarat.
The BJP has brought out its leaders in saffron to lead the campaign in the state. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi, Minister Uma Bharti have toured Gujarat, speaking less of development, and more of issues to polarise the voters.
The BJP campaign in the initial days began with " Hun chhu Gujarat,Hun chhu Vikas "(I am Gujarat, I am Vikas") to counter the Congress's campaign of " Vikas Gando Thyayo Chhe (Vikas has gone crazy). However, as #VikasGoneCrazy gained momentum in the streets and the social media, with the youth in particular taking ownership of this campaign, the BJP is being cornered on the issue of development, and moving to its more familiar communal polarisation card in Gujarat.
BJP President Amit Shah raised the Rohingya Muslim issue during his campaign for the elections, asking why the Congress party was soft on this question. And why its leaders like Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor were backing the Rohingyas in courts and outside. The BJP position is that the Rohingyas,being persecuted and killed by the Myanmar regime, are terrorists with Islamic State links.
CM Adityanath, in his saffron robes, also played unashamedly on the communal card. At his public meeting at Mandavi, Adityanath exhorted the audience to raise the slogan of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" so loud that it was heard in Pakistan.
In fact,the BJP has been consistent in bringing Pakistan into every Assembly election in Gujarat since 2002, directly or indirectly for polarization. This time it was left to Adityanath to bring in the neighbouring country, although his visit has not attracted large crowds. In fact the BJP itself detected a certain disinterest in Gujarat, with Adityanath unable to get the attention that the party had clearly hoped for.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is currently campaigning in Gujarat. For him too the communal card seems to have become important, with a calculated jibe against the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi who is drawing crowds, and making more of a dent in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state than in the parliamentary elections.
“Now, Rahul baba is visiting Gujarat often because elections are near. He is also offering prayers at various temples…(a person) who has never lifted a puja ki thali is applying big tilak and wearing big garlands, without having knowledge about the great culture of this country, otherwise, he would not have commented on women (in RSS),” Chouhan said at a public meeting after offering prayers at the Sai temple at Ankleshwar. Rahul Gandhi had earlier said in one of his meetings that he had never seen a single woman in an RSS shakha wearing shorts.
Chouhan also, predictably, raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir blaming Jawaharlal Nehru for keeping it unresolved. He went on to narrate his version of history, ““They (Congress) conferred Bharat Ratna on Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, but ignored Sardar Patel for many years… Almost after 40 years of his death, he (Sardar) was conferred Bharat Ratna.”