Having come to power at the Centre nearly four years ago parroting the 'development' slogan, the BJP appears to have gone back to its core agenda of communalism and religious polarisation. As the promised economic development with high growth has only remained a chimera, the party no longer talks about the coming of 'achhe din' (good times) and has reverted to its familiar plank of divisive politics. Nowhere is this 'course correction' by the BJP more evident than in Karnataka, which is set to go to Assembly polls in about three months.
The BJP national general secretary and Karnataka in-charge P Muralidhara Rao has officially acknowledged what has been suspected so far - that the party's plan is to ignite Hindu-Muslim divisions. The signal came from the very top of the BJP hierarchy when party president Amit Shah called Chief Minister Siddaramaiah 'anti-Hindu'. And taking the cue from his leaders, the BJP's Karkala MLA Sunil Kumar has made it explicit that for the party, the coming election is a "Ram versus Allah" poll. These are not mere words, the BJP clearly means business. In the last few months, the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have turned into a political cauldron with BJP and its fringe organisations and Congress party workers targeting each other in a no-holds-barred communal frenzy. The BJP is especially guilty of converting even fights between local rowdies and resultant killings into Hindu-Muslim communal incidents. It uses these incidents to paint the Congress government in the state as 'anti-Hindu'. In doing all this, it is trying to rouse public passions and polarise the communities for electoral dividend. The party's 'Parivar' outfits like VHP and Bajrang Dal have also been busy creating public disharmony in the name of 'love jihad' by meddling in personal relationships between boys and girls of different communities.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, too, has not been spared by BJP. It has been circulating a video mocking the chief minister over "biryani" and "Tipu Jayanthi." Political satire and mocking a political opponent is perfectly understandable and perhaps even welcome in the midst of a tense election campaign, but the tone and tenor of the video makes it clear that it is meant to arouse anti-Muslim passions. The Election Commission must step in and curb this sort of campaigning before it descends into further violence on the streets and a completely vitiated election. Instead of resorting to such a low level campaign, a mighty party like BJP should have chosen to challenge the Siddaramaiah government on its performance, or the lack of it, and spoken of its alternative vision for the state if voted to power. Or, perhaps, the BJP is merely acknowledging that all its might is due to its ability and tendency to rouse communal passions.