BJP-Congress race for youths as CAA protests continue

BJP-Congress race for youths as CAA protests continue

 Protestors during a demonstration against CAA in Mangaluru, Karnataka. (PTI Photo)

When Rahul Gandhi dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go University without police security, Congress was challenging the BJP about its ability to retain the bedrock of its support base which has by and larger stayed with Modi since 2014.

Understandably, it indicates a view in Congress of the youth base gradually coming back to the party after having deserted since 2011.

On predictable lines, the BJP was riled and reacted with a vengeance as Rahul’s dare came amid serious bid of the BJP to reach out to youths and address their anger at a time when they are out in streets on various issues including CAA and hostel fee hike.

Political analyst and a Visiting Fellow, Observer Research Foundation Rasheed Kidwai, however, does not see much of a political impact of this. He says that there is no monolithic vote bank of youths that can travel in a chunk from one party to the other as they are also divided on caste community lines.

Kidwai, however, adds that Congress which in past always lacked in wooing them in last many decades has now under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership shown the courage of conviction on an ideological plank and could be able to make some inroads in the constituency of young voters now.

“There is an idealism among youth, also an ideological tilt. So while BJP and Communist organizations were able to draw more support among them than Congress. Now Congress has taken a clear stand on some issues and is hopeful of non-BJP elements among the youths turning towards it,” he said.

BJP, has, however, been dismissive rather been mocking of Rahul’s dare act and has accused him of "working as an ally of Pakistan."

Also as the youths, are out in streets, top BJP leaders have gone into an overdrive to woo the BJP’s hitherto core constituency and to quell the unrest among students.

On Sunday Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted a short portion of his speech in Kolkata where he spoke on CAA. “Spoke to my young friends on an issue that has become a subject of great discussion. Do hear,” he said.

In his speech, Modi tried to dispel ‘misinformation about CAA by “speaking to young friends” and said it was the duty of the youth to make people aware of the importance of CAA.

The PM had also tried to reach out youths in his last Mann Ki Baat on December 30, saying the new generation courageously questions the system itself in the event of the system not responding properly, they get restless. Modi’s remarks that came amid large-scale protests in campuses appeared taking note of these agitations.

According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme, Implementation Youths constitute 34.8 percent of the total population of the country as per the 2011 census.

Clearly the BJP is keen to win back the segment all the more as results of state elections in last one year show a dip in its popularity, starting from Gujarat in 2018 to Jharkhand in 2020, reducing the footprint of the saffron party in eastern, western and central India.

And hence even while taking strict action against CAA protestors in cities, BJP has attempted to de-hyphenate this from the protests in campuses since the outrage over Jamia violence.  So while the Congress and the Communists are being accused of fomenting trouble, the “youths are being misguided”. BJP has also taken out door to door campaign and held intellectual meetings to clear “misgivings” on CAA.

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