Turns Out It’s The Chowkidar Who Is Strengthening The Hands Of Terrorists
Failing economic promises, and with “nationalism” yielding patchy results, BJP is back to its one ideologically unshakeable idea: the raw bleeding heart of Hindutva.
The Election Commission (EC) is suddenly standing up to be counted, after a start so slow that the Supreme Court was moved to remark, “It seems you have woken up to your powers,” which is proof that the Supreme Court (SC) enjoys a bit of snark as much as the next guy.
In the space of a few days, the EC banned the biopic on Prime Minister Modi (though it is now watching it to take a final decision); banned NaMo TV from airing content 48 hours before each phase of polling (thought the channel appears to be flouting the ban); and placed temporary campaign bans on the BJP’s Ajay ‘Yogi Adityanath’ Bisht for using polarising language like “Ali vs Bajrangbali” and “green virus”; Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan for referring to Jaya Prada’s “khaki underwear”; BSP chief Mayawati for appealing to Muslims to vote en masse against Mr Modi, and the BJP’s Maneka Gandhi for threatening to discriminate against voters who do not vote for her.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
The threats have gone from mostly implied to mostly overt. Maneka said she would not offer Muslims employment unless they voted for her, and that villages would be graded into A through D categories in which the percentage of work she would do would be proportional to the pro-BJP voting percentage. Gujarat MLA Madhu Srivastava promised not to spare the people of Waghodia unless the BJP wins every booth. Sakshi Maharaj fell back upon his core competence of religious quackery, telling voters that he’s a monk and will curse them if the BJP doesn’t win.
The Election Commission is willing to stand only so tall, however. It is still hasn’t censured the Prime Minister for asking people to dedicate their votes to the soldiers in Pulwama and Balakot, so perhaps it still feels tenderly for him. Chances are vanishingly slim that it will accept the opposition’s demand that it look into a The Caravan Magazine story showing that Mr Modi furnished false information on his election affidavit regarding his ownership of a plot of land in Gandhinagar. The penalty for that would be imprisonment and/or a fine. Bets, anyone?
The BJP is by no means the only party to use threat and intimidation, but it is certainly the party for which threatening and intimidating whole sections of the Indian population as a matter, of course, is foundational government policy. The Hindu Rashtra is a real goal, doggedly pursued. Amit Shah vowed that the National Register of Citizens would be extended to the whole country and that every “infiltrator” would be thrown out — except Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. That specifically takes aim at Muslims and Christians and implies that “infiltration” is not “infiltration” unless you happen to be of the wrong religion.
— BJP (@BJP4India) April 11, 2019
There was a time when candidates tried to persuade people that they deserved re-election because they had done a good job. Threats suggest poor report cards, and nerves. It seems that nerves are justified. The Quint reported that opinion pollers (CSDS and C-Voter) have downgraded their assessment of how well the BJP will do and that in the last five weeks Mr Modi’s popularity has suffered a 19 per cent plunge back to pre-Pulwama levels.
So, having failed to deliver on its economic promises, and with “nationalism” yielding patchy results, the BJP is back to its one ideologically unshakeable idea: the raw bleeding heart of Hindutva.
For five years, Mr Modi’s Hindutva government has cowed India (no pun intended) into submission and fear by social veto, encouraged by complicit official silence, even as official rhetoric has been about “sabka saath, sabka vikas“. Now, hard on the heels of his chest-thumping self-glorification as the nation’s chowkidar, standing against corruption and terrorism (the latter uniformly equated with Pakistan and Indian Muslims), the BJP has fielded Pragya Singh Thakur, accused in the 2008 terrorist bombing in Malegaon.
That is a naked and truly ugly assertion of what Hindutva backs and values, in case you missed subtler clues like the social terrorism of the last five years. He repeatedly accuses the Congress of being soft on terrorism, but it turns out that the chowkidar himself is “strengthening the hands of terrorists”, to protect the Hindu Rashtra from pluralism.
There is a long way to go yet in this election, but with reports that the first two phases of polling have not gone quite according to the BJPs plan, we can expect more of this double-or-quits, go-for-broke strategy, as the BJP drops every last fig leaf under which it came to power.