This Article is From May 10, 2014

Why Narendra Modi Shuffled the Caste-Card

Sanjay Jha is the National Spokesperson of the Indian National Congress party. He is co-author of the bestseller 'The Superstar Syndrome'. Mr. Jha is a former banker, and also a leading Management Consultant in training.

Political discourse, chronically inferior during the entire Election 2014 campaign, touched an abysmal nadir, courtesy its undisguised champion, Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

When Priyanka Gandhi Vadra referred to Modi's archetypal provocative speech laced with personalized attacks at Amethi as "neech rajniti", Modi was seemingly stunned by the prompt riposte.  Clearly flummoxed and flustered at being on the receiving end,  he came up with a cunning twist , using the lowest common denominator available to appear trumps.

Modi, mustering all the glorious theatrical melodrama possible,  sounding like a disturbed soul who had been grievously insulted, lamented that he was being attacked because of his " low caste".  In a hugely competitive campaign laced with abundant vitriol, occasionally people do inadvertently commit faux pas. But Modi was mischievously orchestrating a brazen lie to add another color to his communal pitch, in particular to the Uttar Pradesh electorate:  the caste-card.  

The first signs that the so-called Gujarat development model  ( a carefully-constructed facade for the real agenda of Hindutva ) was cracking was when Modi talked of the " pink revolution", another sly distortion on meat exports and cow slaughter ( rising exponentially in Gujarat itself, it doubled during Modi's first ten years as Chief Minister) to ignite a communal slant .

The hate-brigade of Praveen Togadia, Giriraj Singh , Ramdas Kadam and Amit Shah then assaulted  secular sensibilities with their periodic inflammatory outbursts imbued with perverse sectarianism.  

Mr Modi, true to character, maintained a deafening silence which implied an implicit endorsement. Of course, when the media hysteria went skyrocketing, he sent an innocuous tweet to appear self-righteous. This was kindergarten stuff; evidently Mr Modi thinks the people of India are gullible enough to fall for his infantile tactics to appear " above it all".  

Of course, he seemed oblivious of Baba Ramdev's repugnant, derogatory remarks against Dalits; so much for his excruciating expressions of anguish for the disadvantaged classes of India.

I suspect the mirror cracked with every successive phase of the election, and the BJP has pressed the panic buttons with its electoral fortunes seeing an irreversible downward slope.  Thus at Faizabad,  Mr Modi finally acknowledged the hidden Hindutva objective by having large backdrops of Lord Rama and the Ram Mandir, while talking of Ram Rajya.

Amit Shah added fuel to  the fire by branding the whole of Azamgarh as a terrorist-haven. Political desperation leads to the naked exposure of real intent. Thus, the caste-card should not really surprise us.

The BJP seems to have become a victim of its own propaganda machine; delusions of grandeur had set in until obviously ground realities hit them in the sweltering summer sun and the dust-storms.  With UP seen as a key battleground ( Bihar will see a resuscitated Congress-RJD make a strong comeback)  Modi discarded the toffee model in the dustbin.  It is altogether another matter that even as I write there are serious allegations that Modi's own OBC status maybe a manipulated one.

Mr Modi's frantic last-ditch attempt to snatch votes using caste-polarization, like his deeply-embedded religious divisiveness goals, has rightfully met with raspberries.

(The views are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Indian National Congress party)

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