AT THE edge of Delhi, 24 hours before campaigning for the MCD polls ends, the BJP at a rally in Dwarka explained why the polls are so important for the party and why their poll issues have little to do with civic issues.
Bhojpuri actor and BJP campaigner Ravi Kishan summarised, “You’re here because of Modi”, while Union Textile minister Smriti Irani said, “Narendra Modi is the leader and Amit Shah, the guide for India”. But BJP MP Parvesh Singh Verma explained it more clearly.
“It’s a civic poll, what will Modi do? I asked him. The way he made Gujarat shine when he was there, that’s how he will make Delhi shine… If we win, it’ll be Modi ji’s izzat (honour) that’ll increase,” he said.
That the BJP’s election campaign revolves around the PM is no longer a surprise. For the past three years, chants of “Har Har Modi” and “Bharat mata ki jai” have punctuated the party’s rallies across India.
But even BJP leaders admit that they have never seen such an intense campaign for the MCD polls. Nor have the main poll planks been so noticeably devoid of the traditional issues of “bijli, paani, makan”. The focus, instead, was on nationalism, Pakistan, black money and BJP’s dream of a ‘Congress mukt bharat’.
Take, for instance, Kishan who argued that a victory in the MCD elections was the first step to ensure “that we are greater than China, America’s equal and so that Pakistan doesn’t dare raise its head”. Or Verma, who made the case that “poor people knew that demonetisation had helped them” and that “IB officers were present outside opposition party offices” to ensure that their black money “goes bad”.
Meanwhile, signs welcoming BJP president Amit Shah outside the venue were hastily replaced with ones welcoming Irani. BJP leaders explained that Shah “had a sore throat” and couldn’t make it. Even though his absence was noticeable, it mattered little. As Ram Kumar Jha, a construction worker, put it, “The MCD polls are the ones which will impact us the most. Today, MPs and cabinet ministers are here. What more can one ask for?” The closest anyone came to talking about a traditional issue was Irani, who spoke of the water problem in Dwarka.
Pointing to the stage, she added, “I’m a Cabinet minister, we have an MP, councillor candidates, MLAs and party workers. There’s no distinction, we are all working towards the betterment of India. Is this possible in the Congress?”
As the rally drew to a close, chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” mingled with the roar of evening traffic and Bhojpuri music from the stage. A BJP worker in the crowd explained, “This isn’t noise. It’s the sound of BJP, winning. Soon, all governments in India will be BJP governments.”