UP election: Why Modi attacked Samajwadi Party with his ‘kabristaan-shamshaan’ comment | assembly-elections$uttarpradesh-2017 | Hindustan Times
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UP election: Why Modi attacked Samajwadi Party with his ‘kabristaan-shamshaan’ comment

Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the campaign pitch at an election rally in Fatehpur on Sunday, taking an indirect dig at the Samajwadi Party with creating a Diwali-Ramzan and kabristan-shamshan divide.

assembly elections Updated: Feb 20, 2017 22:46 IST
Kumar Uttam
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally in Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally in Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh.(PTI File Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the campaign pitch at an election rally in Fatehpur on Sunday, taking an indirect dig at the Samajwadi Party for apparently creating a Diwali-Ramzan and kabristan-shamshaan divide.

Modi said: “If you create kabristaan (graveyard) in a village, then a shamshaan (cremation ground) should be created. If electricity is given uninterrupted in Ramzan, then it should be given in Diwali without a break. Bhedbhaav nahin hona chahiye (there should be no discrimination.”

It was obviously meant to underline the ruling Samajwadi Party’s alleged minority appeasement policy. Here is why Narendra Modi might have opted to tap into the political faultlines along the two communities:

Read: UP elections: Akhilesh flashes facts to counter Modi’s claims of discrimination

1) A multi-phase election is like a Test match where strategies often need a re-look after every innings. UP is voting in seven phases and three are already over. Ground reports aren’t giving any party a clear lead. Modi’s remarks indicated a shift in the party’s strategy to engineer counter-polarisation by whipping up apprehensions about the SP’s pro-minority image.

2) The first three phases did not see any one issue dominate the campaign. Local factors in each seats reportedly determined the voting preferences. In the next four phases, pockets of central UP and Poorvanchal will vote. The BJP hopes to gain from religious invocations.

3) Poorvanchal has significant Muslim population and elections could get polarised for various factors. The SP is strong and the BSP is trying to gain an edge through Dalit-Muslim consolidation in its favour. The Ansari brothers – jailed gangster Mukhtar and Afzal – have influence in parts of Mau, Varanasi and Ghazipur. They are helping Mayawati this time.

4) With demonetisation as a poll plank not showing expected results and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav -- in alliance with Rahul Gandhi -- perceived to be appealing to the youth, the BJP has been forced to rake up its old Hindutva rhetoric.

5) The BJP is banking on its traditional supporters among upper castes and consolidation of non-Yadav OBC votes. Appeal to Hindutva sentiments is expected to help the BJP in bringing different castes under a Hindutva umbrella.