Campaign of communal poison

BJP president Amit Shah addresses an election rally in support of party candidate at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad. PTI

The country is witnessing the most communalised election campaign in its history, with the most controversial and divisive issues being flagged and forwarded and the most retrograde sentiments being invoked and whipped up. It is not opposition parties that are challenging the Narendra Modi government at the hustings but the leaders of the government and the ruling party that are resorting to such unfair and unhealthy methods of campaign. Prime Minister Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have led this malevolent exercise from the front by dividing the people into Hindus and Muslims or others and making it clear that they are supporters of Hindus, dubbing other parties as supporters of Pakistan, misrepresenting events and spreading falsehood, anger and hatred. This is dog whistle politics that seeks to appeal to the baser emotions, pits people against people and promises unapologetically very sectarian and communal policies and their implementation by the government, if the party comes to power. 

Amit Shah has said that the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is now being compiled in Assam and is a source of anxiety, tension and strife there, would be extended to the whole country and every infiltrator — except the Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs — would be removed from the country. It is a marriage of the NRC idea with the Citizenship Bill, which has evoked widespread protests in the North-East. Shah has also announced that Articles 370 and 35A, relating to Kashmir, would be abolished if the BJP came to power. The prime minister talked of “Hindu anger’’, and “Hindu awakening’’ and said that Rahul Gandhi had run away from “Hindu samaj” to Wayanad where “the majority is in a minority’’. No prime minister has ever talked in such blatant communal terms like this. He also took credit for the IAF’s airstrike on Balakot and sought votes in its name. Another leading light of the BJP campaign, Yogi Adityanath, has spewed venom against Muslims and described the armed forces as “Modi’s sena”. 

These are not stray remarks on odd campaign platforms but the consistent line pursued by these and other leaders of the BJP in every election speech. They are dangerous ideas, expressed in fissiparous and openly communal language and rhetoric, intended to inject poison into the society. They violate not only the model code of conduct but also the Indian Penal Code provisions relating to peace and social harmony. It is a vile and crude campaign by people who conceive the country as a majoritarian, domineering state which legitimises suppression of and discrimination against some of its own people. It has dangerous consequences for society and for the country’s democratic system.

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Campaign of communal poison

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