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In the ongoing election blitzkrieg on social media, the BJP released yet another video to add to the “Proud to be Gujarati”, “I am Vikas, I am Gujarat” series, which it has been running to counter Congress’ jibe of ‘Vikas Gando Thayo Che (Vikas has turned lunatic)’. The video, which features veteran and prominent film and television actor Manoj Joshi, is a direct attack at the Congress party and a feverish appeal to young voters to “not let Modi fall on his knees” in the upcoming Gujarat polls, on December 9 and 14.
BJP leaders said Joshi, who is a household name in Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi cinema, would be seen in more campaign videos and would also be joined by other veteran actors, who are native Gujaratis. The new video was released on the official social media accounts of the BJP on Tuesday. Set against the backdrop of Sanand railway station, the video shows Joshi as the owner of a railway book stall. Interestingly, Sanand is the site where the Tata Nano project was incorporated in 2008. During his 12-day long Navsarjan Yatra over four phases, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi had launched an unrelenting attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “giving away Rs 33,000 crore, lands of farmers, electricity and water” to set up the plant, which has “no Tata Nano car rolling out on the roads anymore”.
The video, with its visible props associated with an aged tea vendor, opens with a scene showing several detached youths discussing the importance of “caste politics”. The youngsters emphasise on bringing Congress into power in Gujarat in the upcoming assembly polls. When one of them seems unconvinced about voting for the Congress, Joshi, who has been overhearing the conversation from his book stall says angrily, “Don’t utter a word against the Congress… such parties are difficult to find… They can create scams left and right. They ‘eat’ and allow others also to ‘eat’. The 1984 riots, mafia in Gujarat; they only indulge in a bit of votebank politics, but is 100% secular.”
— BJP (@BJP4India) November 14, 2017
As the youth listen in, Joshi takes a plate of sandwich, which is divided into bite size pieces, and explains the Congress’ inclination for “caste-based politics”. He says, “They learnt the art of caste politics from the British. Madhavsinh Solanki’s KHAM policy is an apt example of this… See this sandwich, one piece of this represents Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim… separate these pieces from the others like they separated these communities from the society. Divide and rule. In 1985, they defeated the unity of Gujarat, but successfully usurped the power in the state.”
Joshi also mocks at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, bringing up his slip-of-tongue moment during his interaction with businessmen in Vadodara in October. “The Yuvraj of the party is a ‘solid comedian’, in fact, professional comedians stand no chance before him. People want Sawaal ka jawab (answers to questions), but he wants jawab ka sawaal (question to the answer). Don’t utter a word against him,” he is seen in the video as saying.
As the video progresses, Joshi’s satire seems to turn into exasperation and an emotional appeal to ensure victory for Modi. Joshi says, “It was after Modi came that the unity came to Gujarat. They (Congress) have troubled everyone – Sardar Patel, Morarji Desai and now Narendra Modi. But they are very good at heart. Don’t speak a word against the Congress. Not just their name, but their policies are also like the British – development of one family. What has Modi done anyway, just Sauno Saath Sauno Vikas (With all, Development for all). What happens with this slogan? Does it help in building the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) dam? Will it help take the Narmada water to Saurashtra? Will it help bring bullet train to India?”
When the youth reminds Joshi of the strength of the “caste leaders” without naming Alpesh Thakor, Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel, he is seen getting visibly irked and agitated as he says, “Oh yes, the Eena Meena Deeka… they are brave leaders. When the floods hit Gujarat, did they go out to do any social work in the affected areas? If you have a photograph of them working during floods, send it to me on Whatsapp. Just for their greed for power, they have divided the society.” The youth reminds Joshi that getting “emotional” does not serve a practical purpose as “we have to do something for our own communities”.
A displeased, animated Joshi chokes on his words as he says, “Someone wants rights for their castes, some want rights for their communities. Who wants vikas for the country? There may be some wanderer, hermit, ‘neelkantha’, who will keep swallowing poison but keep thinking about the ‘progress’ of the country, so that the country can rise from such trivial, petty issues and bring about innovations, inventions.” Citing the example of Singapore, Joshi goes on to say, “Singapore is a miniscule country in size, but in 40 years, see where it has reached. And we, 70 years later, are standing in the same place, talking about caste and creed.”
Sounding an angry warning to the people, Joshi pleads with folded hands, “Listen to me… if these caste issues force Modi to fall to his knees (in the upcoming polls), this country will never stand again, never ever again. Following that, you can keep harping about your caste, creed, Gods. Let it be…”
When a child comes up to a crest-fallen Joshi to offer water, Joshi turns to his book stall and picks up three books as a “gift” for the child. Pointing to the first book with a cover of Mahatma Gandhi, he says, “He is a Gujarati, who taught the world a lesson in peace and non-violence.” Joshi gives the child a second book, which has a cover of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and says, “And this, who united the entire India to make it one.” He then hands the child a third book, with a cover of Narendra Modi, and says, “And he’s a Gujarati, who is going ahead to make our Bharat a Shresth (supreme) country in the world.” Joshi then turns to the youths, who have seemingly understood the point and agree with him as he says, “And you are all Gujaratis, who have been vested with the responsibility of keeping this nation together. Won’t you do it?”
When one of the men asks Joshi, “Which caste do you belong to?”, he replies, “My caste, creed, religion is one. I am Vikas. I am Gujarat.” The video ends with a group of people at the railway platform applauding Joshi as he departs, the background chorus singing, “Every person will make Modi’s dream come true. Modi, Modi.”