From Home Minister Amit Shah’s call to choose BJP to “prevent thousands of incidents like Shaheen Bagh” to chants of “goli maaro saalon ko” when MoS Finance Anurag Thakur was at the mic — the party’s aggression reflects its increasing confidence that it will be able to consolidate Hindu votes in its favour in the run-up to the February 8 Delhi polls.
“It’s natural. When others try to consolidate Muslim votes, Hindus will support us. It’s not the BJP that set this narrative. They (our opponents) have made it Hindu-Muslim vote,” BJP general secretary and member of the election committee for Delhi polls, Anil Jain, told The Indian Express.
“When (Deputy CM) Manish Sisodia declared his support (for Shaheen Bagh), he was trying to consolidate Muslim votes. When (CM) Arvind Kejriwal said we (BJP) are backing Pakistan by granting Hindus citizenship, he was terming half of Delhi as Pakistanis,” Jain said.
Jain’s remark comes against the backdrop of the Delhi polls becoming increasingly polarising and centred around the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. In the last two days, addresses by top leaders at BJP rallies have urged people to vote for a party that unites the country, and reject those who “break the country into pieces”.
On Monday, at a press conference at the BJP headquarters, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that the Shaheen Bagh protest is emerging as “a textbook case of a few hundred people trying to suppress the silent majority”. “It is offering platform to ‘tukde tukde gang’ elements under the garb of opposition to the CAA. This protest is not just a protest against CAA, it is a protest against Modi,” Prasad said.
Prasad’s statement came a day after Shah asked people to vote for the BJP so that “there is never a Shaheen Bagh” in the city. “Press the (BJP’s lotus) button so hard that its current forces protesters at Shaheen Bagh to leave the place by evening,” Shah had said.
BJP leaders claimed that in Delhi, where initially it seemed the party had fallen way behind AAP and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the party is “improving its position day by day” as it is “able to convince voters that CAA is not meant for Indian Muslims, and that those who want to betray India are making it an issue”.
To reinforce this narrative, the central leadership has asked BJP workers from UP and Bihar to campaign in Delhi. “Groups of workers will come to the national capital and visit slums and areas where people from Bihar and UP are living,” said a senior leader.
Party leaders have also been tasked with “exposing” the AAP and Congress. According to a source, common lines in speeches will include: “Modiji has made Balakot airstrike possible, but who questioned it? Did Kejriwal not ask for evidence?” and “Who opposed Ram Mandir? Congress’s Kapil Sibal tried to block it in court. But it’s the BJP government that is building the temple in Ayodhya”.
The new campaign, according to party leaders, is “catching up”, giving fresh hopes to strategists. “If AAP and Congress can woo 95 per cent of Muslims, why can the BJP not seek votes from 95 per cent of the Hindus?” asked one leader.
Party leaders maintained that such a narrative only works if it is supported by a “strong leadership and the message of development”. One leader said: “For the country now, there’s no one other than Narendra Modi to reflect those two factors.”
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