Anti-Radicalisation Cell and UCC: BJP Resorts to Polarisation Ahead of Gujarat Polls
Image credit: The Telegraph
Ahmedabad: Faced with huge anti-incumbency on the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is apparently trying hard to turn the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat into a communal showdown as the polling days are inching closer.
As electorates are holding the saffron party accountable for high inflation, depreciating rupee against the dollar, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and rising unemployment in addition to other local issues, the saffron party has resorted first to dragging the Aftab-Shraddha case from Delhi to Gujarat. It then invoked Pakistan, Ram Mandir (temple) and the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and now it is proposing to create an “Anti-Radicalisation Cell” and promising “complete implementation” of the Gujarat Uniform Civil Code (UCC) committee’s recommendations.
Going all-out, the party has deployed all its hardline Hindutva icons such as Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as its “star campaigners” in the election canvassing.
The BJP, in its manifesto, which was released on November 27 at the party’s state headquarters at Gandhinagar, has promised, “We will create an anti-radicalisation cell to identify and eliminate potential threats and sleeper cells of terrorist organisations and anti-India forces.”
Seeking to turn Gujarat into a so-called ethnic state instead of promoting it as a state that values universal democratic rights, it has further said, “We will ensure complete implementation of the Gujarat Uniform Civil Code committee’s recommendations.”
Mulling to implement the UCC, which calls for the formulation of one law for India, the Gujarat Cabinet in October approved the formation of the three-member committee headed by a retired high court judge.
Earlier, the BJP governments in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh had announced the implementation of the UCC in their states.
Aiming to curb protest demonstrations, the BJP has planned to enact the Gujarat Recovery of Damages of Public and Private Properties Act to recover damages done to public and private properties by “anti-social” elements during riots, violent protests, unrest, etc.
Shifting from its “development” plank, which is seemingly not convincing the voters anymore, the party’s campaign has begun running on its tried-and-tested polarisation pitch — with Amit Shah saying rioters were “taught a lesson in 2002”.
“Communal riots were rampant in Gujarat during the Congress rule (before 1995). Congress used to strengthen its vote bank with such riots. The state witnessed riots in 2002 because perpetrators became habitual of indulging in violence due to the prolonged support they received from Congress. But after they were taught a lesson (in 2002), these elements left that path (of violence) and no riot has taken place from 2002 till date. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence,” Shah said at a public meeting at Mahudha town in Kheda district on November 25.
Earlier, the Assam chief minister during a rally on November 22 at Dhansura in Amreli district pitched for a strong law to prevent ‘love-jihad’ — referring to the brutal murder of Shraddha Walkar allegedly by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawala.
“Aftab killed Shardha and chopped her body into 35 pieces. When the police asked why he brought only Hindu girls, he said he did it because they are emotional. There are other Aftab-Shradha too; and therefore, the country needs strict law against ‘Love Jihad’,” he said.
Warning people that “Aftab would emerge in every city if the country today does not have a strong leader”, he further said, “It is very important that Narendra Modi be made the PM again, for the third time, in 2024.”
While campaigning at Morbi on November 19, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath talked about the Ram Mandir and the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Mentioning the Ram temple, the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Ambaji temple, he said anyone who visited these sites before 2014 would be unable to believe the changes that they have gone through since then.
“Would Ram Mandir be standing today if it was Congress’s rule? Narendra Modi ji and Amit Shah discarded Article 370 from Kashmir,” said Yogi Adityanath.
He also called rivals of the grand under-construction temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh “opponents of Lord Ram”.
Union Minister Kailash Choudhary during a rally in Surat, was seen invoking Pakistan while asking people to vote for the BJP.
“Pakistan wants the BJP to be defeated and the Congress to form the government in Gujarat,” he told the crowd, urging them in a rhetorical manner to vote for BJP and not give Pakistan a reason to be happy.
In the 2017 Assembly polls in the state as well, a fake report was spread that the Pakistan Army wanted late Ahmed Patel as the chief minister.
Dividing the society on communal lines has always been a strategy of the BJP to win elections. It, in fact, resulted in success in Bihar, where it resorted to advertisements, saying their opponents were beef eaters. It also worked in Uttar Pradesh where the party returned to power despite farmers’ agitation.
HYPOCRISY ON “FREEBIES”
While the BJP is a petitioner in the Supreme Court against the practice of promising “freebies”, it has announced the same in its Gujarat’s election manifesto.
It has promised to provide people one litre of edible oil four times a year and one kilogram of chana (gram) per month at subsidised rates through the public distribution system (PDS).
The party has also announced that it will provide a one-time incentive grant of Rs 50,000 to OBC/SC/ST/EWS who get into a NIRF top-ranking institution in India or across the world for higher education.
However, the party has prayed the apex court in its petition filed in January to stop political parties from promising “freebies” during election campaigns.
Opposing the political parties promising sops, BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay has suggested that the Election Commission cancel the registration of such parties.
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