Varun Gandhi’s alleged hate speech against Muslims and his “arrest drama” on Saturday is part of a larger BJP plan to communalise the Lok Sabha election campaign, said the Congress.
The party believes Varun’s anti-Muslim tirade will “dangerously” polarise society in Uttar Pradesh with the BJP exploiting the situation to the maximum. It says many in the BJP are hoping the hate speech controversy pays its “rich dividends”.
Though the BJP had initially dissociated from Varun’s statement, the party now finds itself forced to support and stand by him.
“It was expected. This plan worked once when the Ram temple issue was used to whip up communal passions. The polity got highly polarised that time. It worked in Gujarat as well, but it won’t work all the time,” Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said. In fact, this time, he said, the plan will boomerang on the BJP as the people are not going to approve
of it. But he still said: “It is bad and will harm the country and the polity besides further dividing society.”
The view gaining ground in the Congress is that there is already a “secret pact” between the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the BJP in UP, and the two are likely to come together after polls in case the number game demands such an alignment.
Singh charged the BSP with working in “close liaison” with the BJP. “The UP administration wouldn’t have allowed such fanfare had it been serious about the matter. They should have taken all preventive measures, which includes arresting him at midnight itself,” he said.
Asked about the Congress ’s strategy now, Singh said it would go to the people and expose the “two-faced politics” of the BJP.
Many Congress leaders are of the opinion that Varun’s anti-Muslim diatribe has given them a good opportunity to target the BJP. They are also upbeat about the fact that the Janata Dal-United, a key BJP ally, has distanced itself from the young leader’s remarks.
Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal, for his part, criticised the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani, for maintaining “silence” on the issue. “The silent Advaniji is completely in tune with what is happening in Pilibhit because without his consent this could not have happened. He could have easily stopped it,” he said.
“He wants this issue to carry on in the public eye and continue this tamasha (drama),” Sibal said. He added that the developments in Pilibhit would impact Advani’s image as the Hindu community did not like such politics.