BJP started with Vikas (development) as poll plank in Uttar Pradesh, but couldn’t resist the temptation of exploiting the Hindu-Muslim fault-line for a consolidation of majority votes.
There is a method in BJP’s Hindutva march in country’s most populous state, which is also home to all three major sites of dispute between Hindus and Muslims—Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya.
Here are the six steps how BJP’s Hindutva discourse got sharper as election moved from Muslim-dominated western parts to Poorvanchal, which has significantly low population of the minority community.
October 11, Lucknow: Narendra Modi became first Prime Minister to attend Dussehra celebrations outside New Delhi. He was presented a Sudarshan Chakra, a spinning disc-like weapon that is considered one of the most powerful weapons in Hindu mythology. Here, Modi also raised cries of Jai Shri Ram — a slogan that took prominence in political discourse during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
January 28, Lucknow: The focus on Hindutva got sharper in BJP’s manifesto. It promised ban on mechanical slaughter houses, special department in each district to check exodus following communal tension and more, such as efforts for construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. These promises came in the backdrop of instances like the killing of a Muslim man on accusation of beef eating and Kairana MP Hukum Singh alleging mass exodus of Hindu families in his area.
February 9, Lucknow: Power minister Piyush Goyal attacks Samajwadi Party government for discriminating between Hindus and Muslim in electricity distribution. Goyal claimed that PMO had received such complaints from an MP in Moradbad and the charges were found to be true in an investigation done by his ministry.
February 19, Fatehpur: PM Modi led the charge again with his shamshaan (cremation ground) versus kabaristan (graveyard) and Holi versus Ramzan debate. Union ministers and BJP leaders took a cue from him. Power minister Piyush Goyal, Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj and others too accused Akhilesh Yadav government of favouring a particular community and caste.
February 22, Gorakhpur: BJP president Amit Shah makes a Kasab out of his political opponent. He explained “Ka” stood Congress, “Sa” for Samajwadi Party and “B” for BSP. The strategy to refer to a Muslim name Kasab—also the convict of Mumbai 2011 terrorist attack—was loud and clear. The BJP has been accusing the three parties of Muslim appeasement and expects a split in the minority vote to its advantage.
March 4, Varanasi: PM Modi held a ‘road show’ in Varanasi, driving through lanes of the holy city to Lord Vishwananth and Kal Bhairon Temples. “Fortunate to visit the Baba Vishwanath temple. Har har Mahadev. Also lucky to pay obeisance at the Kaal Bhairav temple,” he wrote on Twitter later.