Fearing 'polarisation', Oppn keeps mum on BJP's tactics

Fearing 'polarisation', Oppn keeps mum on BJP's tactics

SP leader Azam Khan before filing his nomination papers from Rampur constituency for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Rampur, UP on April 02, 2019. PTI

 'Once bitten, twice shy' seems to be the 'mantra' of the opposition parties to prevent "polarisation" in communally sensitive western Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls in the first phase on April 11.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had swept the entire western region owing largely to communal polarisation following the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

A few Opposition leaders, namely UP Congress vice-president Imran Masood, who is contesting from Saharanpur seat, and Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan, who is in the fray from Rampur seat, had also helped polarise the electorate through their provocative remarks.

Surprisingly, this time not only Masood and Khan, but other local SP, BSP, RLD and Congress leaders have also kept silent, refusing to take the BJP bait so far. 

Masood is now talking about renovating the famous Sakumbari Temple in Saharanpur if he wins the polls. But in 2014, it was his 'boti-boti' (cut into pieces) remark on Modi that had played a big role in polarising the region.

Modi, while addressing an election rally at Sharanpur on Friday, referred to Imran's remarks. In an earlier rally, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had referred to Masood as the relative of Pakistan-based terrorist Azhar Masood.

"It is the electoral game plan of the BJP's rivals not to respond to the provocations by the saffron party... they have been able to prevent polarisation at least till now," said a Muslim scholar.

None of the top leaders from both the Congress and the alliance has launched their election campaign even though the polling is barely days away. 

SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati will be addressing their first rally in the region at Deoband on Monday. Congress president Rahul Gandhi will also address rallies in the region on the same day.

It remains to be seen if the opposition tactics work this time.