New Delhi, Sept. 17: The BJP has adopted a two-pronged strategy on communalism in Uttar Pradesh: top brass, including Narendra Modi, will stay silent while local leaders highlight “appeasement” by rivals.
The senior leaders will refrain from saying anything because it could be construed as “incendiary” and show up the BJP as “irresponsible and unfit to rule”.
Such subtle change was at play on Sunday in Rewari, where Modi addressed his first rally after being anointed prime ministerial candidate. Instead of his usual clenching of fists against Pakistan, he asked the country to join India in combating poverty, illiteracy and superstitions.
The Uttar Pradesh approach was discussed and endorsed this morning in a meeting at party president Rajnath Singh’s residence.
As part of it, local leaders and office-bearers have been directed to speak up openly on the “appeasement” policy of the other parties towards minorities, particularly the Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party, and the “wide berth” given to Hindus.
BJP MLAs have been told to flag this line vociferously in the Assembly to underline the communal breach that the leaders said had deepened after the Muzaffarnagar violence.
The unanimous view at today’s meeting, attended by senior leaders from Delhi and Lucknow, was that “at the top” the party must stick to “governance, development and corruption”, sources said. Down the chain, the leaders could raise the subject of non-BJP parties and governments “pandering” to the minorities, the sources added.
The BJP has over the past few weeks held the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi government squarely responsible.
Spokesperson and Rajnath’s adviser Sudhanshu Trivedi referred to “deliberately created confusion” among the Samajwadis and asked whose version was authentic: Mulayam Singh Yadav’s classification of the violence as a “caste” clash or senior minister Azam Khan’s label of it being the “worst such occurrence after Gujarat 2002”.
Later, the BJP expects its discourse to conflate the Muzaffarnagar episode with a larger theme of “minority appeasement” that could end up pointing fingers on the Congress-led UPA as well.
Already, there are murmurs within the party on why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were seen consoling sections of only one community in Muzaffarnagar yesterday and not Hindus who the BJP claims were as “badly assaulted as the other side”.
A source explained the line firmed up today. “Analysts are saying we are the natural and biggest beneficiaries of the polarisation. But unless we voice our stand clearly and take it down to the Hindus, the so-called benefits might not accrue. We have to prove we care for the Hindus and not hide behind the cloak of secularism,” a source said.
CBI probe plea
Allahabad High Court today sought details of action taken in Muzaffarnagar and all other flare-ups under the Akhilesh Yadav government’s watch since March 2012, acting on a PIL that sought a CBI probe into each incident.
The government has been given two weeks to respond to the plea, filed by an RTI activist.
WHAT IF ‘NARENDERJI’ GIVES RETURN GIFTS
|BJP supporters offer sweets to a poster of Narendra Modi in New Delhi. (Ramakant Kushwaha)
The most well-fed guest of
the day: The innumerable Modi masks and posters that were “fed” slices of cake
The best debutant: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeted Modi. Sources in Delhi said Singh does greet chief ministers but others in
Gujarat said this was the first
time Singh greeted Modi on his
birthday. Others who sent greetings
included L.K. Advani and, again
according to sources in Gujarat,
The most cringing line: Henceforth, Modi’s birthday will be commemorated as Sankalp Divas (day to redeem pledges). Declaration by BJP youth wing chief Anurag Thakur
Those who sweated out the most: Navjot Singh Sidhu, Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel and several other local leaders who performed an elaborate havan at a temple and distributed portions of a 100kg laddoo to devotees
The bravest act: Prayer for Modi by several members of the BJP’s minority cell in Mumbai
|A birthday cake for Modi in
The heaviest throne: A 64kg cake baked in the shape of a chair in Surat
The best gift: A copy of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, gifted by Modi’s mother Hiraba, 94, who blessed him affectionately. “I came for my mother’s blessing, there is no bigger privilege than that.” Modi said outside the Gandhinagar home of his brother and government employee, Pankaj, with whom their
The best history lesson: It was on this very day that Sardar Patel liberated Hyderabad from the Nizam’s rule, said Modi
THE NOTICE-ME, NOTICE-ME PERSON OF THE DAY
Mallika Sherawat, who had recently crowned Modi the “most eligible bachelor in the country, found her several minutes of fame on Tuesday. A video clip showed her crooning “Happy birthday, Narenderji, Happy birthday, Narender Modijiii....” The song by the actress, who is said to be more busy these days in Hollywood than in Bollywood, provoked a blizzard of comments
The charitable view
Mallika’s act reminded some of the day
Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday,
Mr President” to
John F. Kennedy at his 45th birthday party at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. (Mallika did not sing “Happy Birthday, Prime Minister-
The uncharitable view
Another recall was that of
Jennifer Lopez purring birthday wishes
this June for
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the Turkmenistan
President who faces human rights violation charges. In case Modi is looking for return-gift ideas, here’s one: JLo was reportedly paid $1.5 million for the
Mallika’s TV show Bachelorette goes on air later this month