Sunday rally addressed by Gujarat chief minister BJP Narinder Modi at Madhopur, the bordering town of J&K, holds significance for two important things: the emergence of ‘inclusive’ Modi and ‘secular’ Advani harping back on ‘Hardliner’ approach.
Addressing a first major rally after being appointed head of the BJP’s campaign committee Modi invoked former prime minister AB Vajpayee to reach to the people of Kashmir.
Kashmir region of the J&K has as sense of alienation and ‘subjugation’, whether it’s real of perceived is point of debate, but the sense and feeling is there.
Secondly, Kashmir is the only region-with about 50-lakh population- which has nearly 100 percent muslim population.
Modi by invoking Vajpayee has tried to send a message that he is sensitive to the people who feel alienated and is not antagonistic to Muslims.
Kashmir and muslim community are one of the corner stones of the BJP’s brand of politics.
Vajapyee was the assistant of Shyama Parsad Mookerji, when he was arrested at Lakhanpur for defying permit system to enter the State. Then permit was needed to enter J&K from the rest of the India.
Both Vajpayee and BJP catapulted to power on these issues though the final push was given by Ram Mandir agitation.
The party used exclusive approach to establish its core constituency then extrapolated from here to extend its political base and then finally dropped the contentious issues of both Art 370 and Universal Civil Code when it formed a grand alliance of NDA, which it needed for a seat in Delhi.
Gujarat CM has done the exactly same. He was first established his image of ‘hindu hridaya samarat’ and was in the process also carried the tag of man behind Godhra riot.
But now when he is virtually the prime ministerial candidate of the party, Modi knows that he can’t be seen as antagonistic to the community which forms about 20 percent of country’s population, though it may or may not vote for either him or his party.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, without naming Modi, had said the person aspiring to be prime minister should inclusive, must have democratic temperament and shouldn’t have rough edges.
Nitish had also said that NDA could run because it was headed by people like Vajpayee and Advani.
Modi has now re-packaged himself on exactly the same lines. And he also spoke exactly like Vajpayee.
Addressing function rally at Srinagar, Vajpayee had had said: “ We have come here to share your grief and pain… Guns can’t solve problems . Guns can kill people but not feed them.”
On Sunday Modi said: “Gun can only bring violence and death. The need of the hour is peace, integrity and compassion …. and we should pick the thread on Kashmir where it was dropped by Vajpayee, when his government ended.”
This statement was also an attack on the Congress as nothing much political movement on Kashmir has been since in the last 10-yr of Cong headed UPA govt.
Interestingly, on the Sunday, Advani writing on his blog to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Shayama Parsad Mookerjee said: “ The country eagerly the day when Art 370 would be repealed and two vidhans( constitutions) also become one.”
Advani, who had termed Jinnah a secular, has by this statement has tried to re-emerge as hardliner and Modi, termed arrogant and hardliner, by invoking Vajpayee has packaged himself as companionate and ‘secular’.
However, Modi has long way to go when the perception his trying to build about himself turns out into reality.