Why did you toy with love jihad when sabka-saath, sabka-vikas worked fine? | ht view | Hindustan Times
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Why did you toy with love jihad when sabka-saath, sabka-vikas worked fine?

In three months’ time, the BJP having successfully experimented with ‘sabka-saath, sabka-vikas’ in Uttar Pradesh, ‘unofficially’ but inexplicably turned to ‘love jihad’ in the by-polls. As ‘Modi-Modi’ chants got replaced with ‘Yogi-yogi’ cries in these by-polls, the young who had just voted for their 'acche din' got confused.

ht view Updated: Sep 16, 2014 19:55 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey

In three months’ time, the BJP having successfully experimented with ‘sabka-saath, sabka-vikas’ in Uttar Pradesh, ‘unofficially’ but inexplicably turned to ‘love jihad’ in the by-polls. As ‘Modi-Modi’ chants got replaced with ‘Yogi-yogi’ cries in these by-polls, the young who had just voted for their 'acche din' got confused.

Adding to their confusion was the fact that while BJP’s star campaigners talked of ‘not letting any Jodha go with Akbar’ the ruling Samajwadi Party and its candidates started talking development. The 8-3 by-poll verdict in UP clearly indicated what the youth finally went for.

“Call it by any name but ‘love jihad’ as it has been popularised by the BJP is indeed a social problem in west UP. However its presentation during the by-poll campaign was such that the young perceived it as an aggressive posturing against love marriage per se. The BJP campaigners failed to communicate the difference between the two. Naturally, the youth turned hostile and turned to a party whose young chief minister has of late been talking development and laughing off BJP’s version of love jihad,” says Professor Sanjeev Sharma of the political science department of Meerut University.

Did the BJP’s state leadership which now finds itself in the dock indeed goof up on campaign strategy? “Yes. After all barely 3 months back you had seen how Modi had successfully sold development model to the masses. Modi promised a new-look BJP. The party needed to build on that rather than confuse the young electorate with communal issues,” says Athar Hussain from the Centre of Objective Research and Development.

Added to the ‘faulty’ poll campaign was the fact that the BJP which won all the 17 reserved Lok Sabha seats in UP 3 months back could simply watch the dalit vote float away either to BSP-backed independents or to the Samajwadi Party which had prepared an elaborate strategy to win BSP’s core voters over to their side. The BJP too had deployed dalit MPs in various constituencies as part of this strategy. However, plagued by bitter infighting and divisive campaign, it lost an opportunity to consolidate its grip over dalit votes. “The BJP appeared confused about the line to take in these by-polls. It should have focused on development. But it started generating needless controversies. In the ensuing confusion it couldn’t even tap the dalit vote, which the saffron strategists had hoped would come to it in BSP’s absence. The dalit vote went to BSP backed independents or to the Samajwadi Party. Ahead of 2017 UP polls, it’s a perfect wake up call for the BJP to get its act together,” says Professor Manoj Dixit of the Lucknow University. Experts are wondering if BJP scored a self-goal in these by-polls?

“The BJP had everything going for it in UP. But such divisive campaigning in these by-polls frightened even those Muslims away who impressed by Modi’s development talk were planning to come closer to the BJP. And why just Muslims, I think even Hindus rejected the BJP’s by-poll model as is evident by the results. I hope that now the party would think twice before projecting such campaigners and raising such issues,” says Professor Shakil Samdani of Aligarh Muslim University.