STEPPING UP his attack on Opposition parties, BJP president Amit Shah on Friday compared them to snakes and mongoose, cats and dogs, all traditional rivals now forced to come together on a tree to escape the “flood” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Later, Shah sought to explain his remarks by saying that he had referred to parties such as SP-BSP and Congress-TMC, which are ideologically on opposite sides but forced to come together to counter “Modiji’s influence”.
The remarks drew a furious reaction from the Congress with senior leader Anand Sharma describing it as “shameful” and “condemnable” and reflective of the BJP’s “mindset”.
Addressing a rally in Mumbai to mark the BJP’s 38th foundation day, Shah said, “2019 ke karyakram ki shuruvat ho gayi hain. Sara vipaksh avahan karta hai ikattha aao. Maine ek varta suni thi. Jab bahut badi baath aati hai, toh saare pedh-paudhe pani mein beh jaate hain. Ek vatvruksha akele bach jata hai. Toh saanp bhi uss vruksh par chad jata hain, nevla bhi chad jata hain, billi bhi chad jati hain, kutta bhi chad jata hain, cheetah bhi chad jata hai, sher bhi chad jata hai. Kyunki neeche paani ka dar hai, isiliye sab ek hi vruksh par ikattha hote hain. Yeh Modiji ki jo baadh aayi hai, iske dar se saanp, nevla, kutti, kutta, billi, sab ikattha hokar chunav ladne ka kaam kar rahe hain.”
(The programme for 2019 has begun. The entire Opposition is giving a call for unity. I had heard a story. When there is a big flood, all the shrubs and trees drown in the water. Only the Banyan tree survives. So the snake climbs on that tree, the mongoose also climbs, the cat also climbs, the dog also climbs, the lion also climbs. Because there is the fear of water below, all of them gather on that one tree. Fearing the Modi flood that has come, snake, mongoose, bitch, dog, cat, all of them have come together to fight the elections.)
However, speaking to reporters later, Shah said, “Maine saanp aur nevala ka udaharan isliye diya kyunki ye hamesha virodh mein rehnewale prani hain. Aur woh aam taur par ikattha nahin aate. Modiji ke prabhav se woh ikattha aaye hain. Phir bhi unko bura laga toh mein unka naam leta hun. Sapa-Basapa, Congress-Trinamool. Ideologically virodh mein hain aur ikattha hue hain. TDP-Congress.”
(I gave the example of snake and mongoose because they are animals who are always rivals. And generally, they do not come together. Modiji’s influence has brought them together. Even then, if they felt bad, I take their names. SP-BSP, Congress-Trinamool. Ideologically different and yet they came together. TDP-Congress.)
The remarks were made against the background of the BSP supporting SP to win two seats in the UP bypolls last month. Shah was also referring to the Congress taking the lead in getting its ideological rivals to join hands and take on the BJP in 2019.
Pointing to the Congress’s rout in the UP bypolls, Shah took a dig at the party’s new president. “Probably, Rahul Gandhi must be the first leader who is distributing sweets even after his party lost its deposit in the two bypolls,” he said.
Referring to the recent meeting between Gandhi and the NCP chief, Shah said, “NCP president Sharad Pawar has given him an injection, and Rahul baba is jumping up and down. He has the audacity to ask Modi what the government has done in the last four-and-a-half years.”
But the Congress chief, claimed Shah, is unmindful of the questions people are asking his party for its misgovernance over six decades.
Calling on BJP workers to take pride in their party’s electoral success, Shah said, “There is no reason to go on the defensive when we have pulled off brilliant victories in Haryana, Jharkhand, Assam, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Tripura, Nagaland, J&K, Manipur… Across the country, the BJP is leading in as many as 21 states. And at the Centre, it has the mandate of 330 seats along with its alliance partners.”