Politics allows you to obfuscate, be economical with the truth and weave magical webs on the public stage. Sometimes you can get trapped in those webs of your own making.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told a public meeting in Rajasthan’s Nagaur: “The Congress has given you nothing except betrayal at every step. The life of the common man is not safe here. Every criminal, mafia and rioter acted as if he was the chief minister. Atrocities on Dalits, deprived sections of society and women reached a disturbing peak.”
In the same state, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said addressing an election rally in Bharatpur: “The Congress denied a ticket to its sitting MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga because he had brutally attacked a Dalit youth, inflicting countless wounds on his body. The BJP embraced him and made him their candidate from Bari in Dholpur district."
Kharge added: “And the Prime Minister comes here to attack the Congress for a rise in atrocities on Dalits.”
Kharge apologised to the audience for arriving late because he had been to meet the victimised Dalit youth at a Jaipur hospital with chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
“With multiple fractures, the youth is still nursing his wounds after eight months. The state government is bearing all the expenses. Gehlot has gone four times to meet him and assured his family all help. Rahul Gandhi and I decided not to field that MLA again. We can’t tolerate such crimes. Such people shouldn’t get refuge in any party. But Modi and Shah encourage such people.”
The 29-year-old Harshadhipati Valmiki, an engineer with the state’s electricity department and posted in Dholpur, was beaten up for ordering the disconnection of power supply to a village dominated by upper castes because of non-payment of dues.
Valmiki accused the MLA of throwing a chair at him and instigating his goons to assault him. A case was registered against Malinga under the SC-ST Act and he was arrested but managed to secure bail.
Though Gehlot’s prompt intervention ensured the best medical care for Valmiki, Dalit outfits and his family members resented the Congress party’s continued patronage to the powerful three-term MLA. Top state BJP leaders visited the hospital and condemned the Congress for the criminal assault. Malinga’s participation in the Bharat Jodo Yatra as it passed through Rajasthan triggered a controversy, compelling the Congress high command to withhold his ticket.
The BJP grabbed the opportunity and gave him the ticket, accusing the Congress of harassing a popular MLA. Kharge today said: “The BJP protects oppressors and tormentors of Dalits. There are leaders in the BJP who have mowed down innocent people.”
While a BJP candidate was on Friday accused in Madhya Pradesh of deliberately running a vehicle over a Congress corporator, the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni is alleged to have mowed down many farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh.
These shocking ironies, however, didn’t deter the Prime Minister from taking the moral high ground as he asked the people at the rally in Nagaur: “Do you believe Modi’s guarantee or the Congress’s licence to loot? Modi’s guarantee is trusted by people across the country because of solid reasons. I have spent my days and nights fulfilling my promises. The BJP promised the removal of Article 370 and Modi delivered. The BJP promised a Ram temple in Ayodhya and Modi delivered. I also fulfilled the promises to remove the triple talaq and to pass the women’s reservation bill.”
But Kharge had to say a lot on Modi’s guarantee. “Modi is jhoothon ka sardar. He promised Rs 15 lakh in every account. Mil gaya? He promised two crore jobs every year. Received it? He promised the doubling of farmers’ incomes. Ho gaya?”
As the crowd chorused “No, no”, Kharge said: “Who is lying — you, or the Prime Minister? How can the Prime Minister lie? You have taken Rs 15 lakh and are still accusing the Prime Minister of not fulfilling his promises.”
Modi, perhaps realising that his promises and guarantees are being decoded and punctured, tried to give a different dimension to the entire discourse. Instead of his promises about bringing down prices, creating jobs and bringing back black money, he is now inviting the public to judge him by different yardsticks.
He is no longer focusing on welfare and good governance, but on agenda issues like Article 370, the triple talaq and the Ram temple. The “achchhe din” just got redefined.