Why BJP Has Gone So Big In Attack On Emergency And Congress

Published: June 29, 2018 13:30 IST
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When Modi and the BJP are additionally aggressive, one can comfortably conclude that elections are around the corner. The Congress has been viciously attacked in the past few days. There is an effort to create the impression that the Congress is responsible for every problem that this country is facing and the only way out is to make India "Congress-Mukt". Obviously, the BJP is worried as it has to face elections in three states where it it is answerable for its governance followed by the grand finale in 2019. The BJP is worried because it has failed to get the desired results in Gujarat and Karnataka; it is worried because the fractured opposition has shown cravings for unity; it is worried as the Modi Government has failed to deliver and the popularity of its biggest vote-catcher is on a downslide. Modi is aware, as is the BJP/RSS, that offense is the best form of defense!

It all started when Congress leaders - Saifuddin Soz and Ghulam Nabi Azad - committed a faux pas. Both by now should know that any statement by them will be given a slant so as to bracket them with terrorists. Soz saying that Kashmir wants independence was wrongly placed; Ghulam Nabi's statement that the army will kill more civilians was a blunder. The BJP was smart enough to latch onto the slips and unleashed Ravi Shankar Prasad, the most articulate of BJP spokespersons, to demand that Rahul Gandhi explain why, since he took over as Congress President, the party appears to be in sync with those out to destroy the country. The Congress fumbled. It was left searching for words.

Then, ailing Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was let loose. The Emergency was the topic. He wrote a long blog. Indira Gandhi was compared to Hitler. The Emergency was undoubtedly the worst thing that could have happened to India. The Emergency is recalled every year on June 25. But this year, it was made special. The Congress was once again on the defensive. It ran for cover.

Then, two nights ago, without any reason or apparent provocation, video clips of the surgical strike in 2016 against Pakistan surfaced on channels seen as pro-government. Questions were raised about Rahul Gandhi doubting our brave hearts, the soldiers. The Congress yet again did not have any answer.

Three aces, back to back.

The BJP timed it perfectly. The rupee has slid to an all-time low. Petrol prices are at an all-time high and black money in Swiss banks is up by 50%. India has been proclaimed the worst place for women in the world. And the UN has slammed human rights violations in Kashmir. But the government managed to shift the onus to the Congress and whether it is anti-nation. Are they with the army or with terrorists? Do they support army operations to flush out terrorists in Valley? This works for the BJP as they have, with the help of the state, successfully built a community in the last four years which is driven by nationalistic fervour, swears by the ideology of Hindutva and is consumed by anti-Muslim sentiment. This section is vocal, aggressive, visible and partly influential. They are the "new" citizens. With their help, BJP/RSS cadre will run a campaign that will state that voting for the Congress will be voting for anti-nationals. 

The Emergency debate is the sophisticated addition in this narrative. This is just to remind the voters about the darkest past of Indian history since independence. This was the time when democracy was hijacked by the Congress, when citizens' fundamental rights were seized, when people were shoved in jail illegally, when people were forcefully put through vasectomies. It was the rule of a dictator - the press was not free, the judiciary was circumvented, parliament lost its dignity and the President was a puppet.

The BJP is very effectively targeting young voters, the post-1990 generation which has no idea about how Indira Gandhi divided Pakistan into two; how she integrated Bhutan, a new state, into India; how she was instrumental in making India self-sufficient in food grain production through the green revolution; how she nationalised banks and how she abolished privy purses; how she led the non-alignment movement and how she forged a powerful friendship with the USSR and how she was called "Durga" by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. the RSS' poster boy. 

Let's not forget similar tactics were used ahead of the 2014 election. But then the Congress was fighting the battle with its back to the wall. The Congress was plagued by corruption charges. Its government was suffering from policy paralysis. The Modi brigade built a brilliant campaign around this. Rahul was established as the worst thing that could happen to India. He was nicknamed "Pappu", a hapless good-for-nothing. Their campaign was so effective that one for the most seasoned editors of our time, Vinod Mehta, wrote with guilt that it was not fashionable to be seen on the right side of Sonia Gandhi and the Congress. But now India is living in 2018. It is time for Modi/BJP/RSS to respond, to reply, to answer - have they delivered what they promised in 2014?

Elections 2019 will be fought on the issue of what Modi has done since 2014. Since Modi's delivery list is not encouraging enough, therefore the strategy is to paint the Congress and the Opposition black. Doesn't exactly reek of confidence. 

(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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