Sunday, May 26, 2024

PM as polarizer


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The clearest indication yet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi losing his confidence to sweep this parliament poll came on Sunday, when he threw caution to the winds and indulged in what many saw as a “hate speech” – targeting the 20 crore Muslims of this nation directly. Consider the fact that Modi had never spoken out against Muslims in the past 10 years of his governance though such sentiments always pervaded the BJP’s governing establishment and organisational set-up across the board. It would appear that the PM has taken out the “last weapon” in his armour to win this election for himself and his party — via a fresh communal polarization. His warning to his Hindu brethren, divided as they were, was that Muslim “infiltrators” would take India’s wealth away if the Congress party returned to power. The Congress, he said, would distribute the nation’s wealth to “those who have more children, to the infiltrators.”
The PM was obviously talking through his hat. But there was a method in the madness. His last ditch attempt, obviously, was to unify the Hindus against the “invisible enemy” – the Muslims – and polarise the society during the poll season. This is clear as sunlight; and it is equally well-understood that Modi is turning desperate to win the elections even as the Opposition is not yet showing any signs of waging a strong battle at the hustings in several states, principally the Hindi belt which is where the BJP pins its main hopes on.
Dividing the society vertically was what the BJP always took a special interest in and reaped rewards. The Modi establishment did attempt a polarization on communal lines a while before the polls by asserting that it would implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). This, even as it was a foregone conclusion that the BJP was all for driving out the illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries. The Congress party proved smarter and it refused to catch the bait. Obviously, the BJP was crestfallen, also for the reason that the party or Modi could not come up with a new agenda for the nation. Instead, they harped on the familiar themes, trumpeted the “development” that the Modi government brought to the nation in the past 10 years, highlighted the “temples” push in Ayodhya and even abroad, and the government’s achievement in Kashmir vis-a-vis the nullification of the special status. To the voters, obviously, all these no longer made sense. In fact, this is a rare situation in which the nation is facing the polls without a special agenda. Modi’s listing of his achievements, it might seem, is failing to click with the electorate. From a vantage point, Modi understands as much.


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