BJP leaders anticipate that soft Hindutva will become an issue in Bihar during the Lok Sabha polls, and are already preparing for it.
“The Bodh Gaya incident is serious. There were specific intelligence inputs, which were reportedly conveyed to Bihar officials four days before the blast,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday. Citing HT’s report that the Indian Mujahideen had claimed responsibility, Prasad said all angles of the conspiracy must be probed.
Weeks after the Janata Dal (United) — in power in the state — split with the BJP over the elevation of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as the saffron party’s campaign chief, the BJP has begun giving the first signals of readying for a polarisation by openly accusing Nitish Kumar of sitting on IB inputs regarding the Gaya terror strike.
The subtext: the party is subtly saying that Kumar is “soft” on terror because he is looking at “appeasing minorities” — read Bihar’s 16% Muslims — with an eye on poaching rival Lalu Prasad’s vote base.
“With Nitish Kumar now trying to poach on Lalu’s vote base of Muslims to survive the loss of upper caste votes owning to the split with the BJP, we are likely to see competitive Muslim appeasement from the JD(U) and the RJD, with the Congress also making similar noises,” a senior Bihar BJP leader said.
“This would set in motion a polarisation that would make soft Hindutva an issue.”
A Bihar BJP leader charged that Kumar sat on the IB inputs because he didn’t want to be seen as acting against “Muslim youth”.
Officially, the BJP would stick to its line that it is going to the polls on “development” and “good governance” issues. It is taking up the terror issue as one of national security, but this issue also feeds into the “minority appeasement” discourse.