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Projecting the Opposition as Anti-Hindu Remains Modi's Main Strategy

Modi's address in Amroha yesterday demonstrated how he tries to rake up religious sentiments, belying claims by the BJP that it was seeking votes from people on the basis of unprecedented development work and on the implementation of welfare schemes.
Photo: X/@narendramodi.

New Delhi: Projecting the opposition as ‘anti-Hindu’ and ‘pro-Muslim’ has emerged as the favourite tactic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha election campaign, as he seeks a third term in the country.

His public address on April 19 in Amroha in west Uttar Pradesh demonstrated how the BJP’s star campaigner tries to rake up religious sentiments, belying claims by the saffron party that it was seeking votes from people on the basis of unprecedented development work and the implementation of welfare schemes.

Modi made a direct attack on the Congress candidate and sitting Amroha MP Kunwar Danish Ali, who is a Muslim, saying he did not deserve to enter the Lok Sabha as he had objected to chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.

“The Congress candidate here [Danish Ali] had an objection to even saying ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. Is it proper that a person who doesn’t accept Bharat Mata ki Jai sits in parliament? Should such a person get entry into India’s parliament?”, Modi asked.

The PM, who was speaking even as eight seats in west UP were voting in the first phase, accused the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Congress  and the INDIA bloc of not leaving “any stones unturned in attacking our faith”.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

To target the opposition and draw his connection with UP, he evoked Ayodhya, Dwarka and Kashi – three of the holiest cities for Hindus.

Like he has done in several rallies since January 22, Modi targeted the SP and Congress for not attending the pran pratishtha (consecration ceremony) of the Ram Mandir, which was built in Ayodhya following a Supreme Court verdict more than three decades after the Mughal-era Babri Masjid was demolished by Hindu right-wing fundamentalists assembled by the Sangh parivar.

Modi linked the SP and Congress’s refusal to attend the Ayodhya ceremony to Muslim “appeasement,” a bogey raised by the Hindu right to accuse opposition parties of pandering to India’s Muslim minority at the cost of Hindus.

“Can you imagine that people, hungry for their vote bank, rejected the invitation for the pran prathistha ceremony? On the other hand, look at those people who all their lives fought the Babri Masjid case, lost in the Supreme [Court] and willingly participated in the pran Pratishtha,” said Modi.

“These people are even ashamed of this. They are even more “gaye-beete” than them [the Babri Masjid petitioners].”

Hindus make up roughly 80% of the voters in UP. Muslims, the largest minority, are almost one-fifth of the electorate.

In west UP, however, the population of Muslims is much higher than the state average and over the years, the BJP has resorted to tactics to trigger a consolidation of Hindu voters for electoral gains.

Modi said that even after rejecting the invitation to Ayodhya, opposition parties felt their “vote bank remained kachhi [unconsolidated]”, so they resorted to “vilifying” the Ram Mandir and sanatan astha (faith).

“On Ram Navami, a grand surya tilak [a beam of sunlight was projected onto the forehead of Ram’s idol in the Ayodhya temple] of Ram Lalla took place. You must have seen it. Today, the entire country is ‘Ram-mai’. But these SP people, for the sake of their vote bank, publicly say that those who are devoted to Ram are ‘pakhandi’,” said Modi.

Further pressing the point, Modi said: “Are you all pakhandis? Are Ram bhakts all pakhandi? Are those who worship Ram pakhandi? The INDI Alliance people loathe sanatan.”

Modi then referred to the event when he went under water in the sea and offered prayers at the submerged ‘ancient’ city of Dwarka linked to Lord Krishna by Hindus.

“Shri Krishna went to Gujarat from here. And look at the fun, I was born in Gujarat and came and sat at the feet of UP. Kashi made me an MP [laughs]. I went to Dwarka and prayed at the ancient site of Dwarka Nagri of Shri Krishna underwater, discovered by archaeologists. I also offered peacock feathers, which Shri Krishna likes,” said Modi.

The PM used the incident to target the Congress, especially Rahul Gandhi.

“But Congress’s shehzada [prince] says there is nothing worth worshipping under the sea. Thousands of years of our beliefs and bhakti, of which there is physical evidence … this is how these people are rejecting it, and all for vote bank,” said Modi.

He also did not spare the Yadav leaders of the SP and the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Bihar – Akhilesh Yadav and Lalu Yadav’s family – for allying with the Congress, whom he accused of insulting a person – Modi himself – who worshiped Dwarka.

“Those people who beat their drum by calling themselves Yaduvanshis, I want to ask them. Those in Bihar who claim to be Yaduvanshi and those leaders in UP who step out to reap benefits (malai khane) of [their] Yaduvanshi [background], I want to ask them, if you are true Yaduvanshis, how can you sit together with a party that has insulted a person who worshipped Bhagwan Dwarika? How can you reach an understanding with them?”

The PM also referred to communal tensions and the conspiracy theory of a Hindu exodus in west UP to further rake up Hindi insecurity.

The “game of appeasement” had scorched UP, especially West UP, through the “fire of riots. People had to flee their homes,” he said.

“In West UP, people used to be forced to collectively put up posters of ‘This house is for sale’. Our ‘behenbetiyan [sisters and daughters] were not safe.”

Referring to the controversial iron-fist policy adopted by the state government led by Yogi Adityanath to tackle crime and take action against suspected criminals, political opponents and ordinary citizens, Modi said Adityanath had “freed” the people from such criminals.

But he warned, “We must not, under any cost, let those forces become strong again.”

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