Last I-Day before 2024 polls: Large dose of nationalism on offer
The I-Day campaign, the last ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, is focused at connecting with the masses on the emotive issue, which is also in sync with BJP’s larger push centering around ‘rashtrawaad’ (nationalism). Over the next three days, the BJP and its allies would be part of this outreach that would manifest itself through ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ - which basically means a Tricolour fluttering at each house,
Lucknow: From free movies on patriotism to ‘special midday meals with ‘halwa’ for government primary and secondary school students who turned up on Sunday for the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign, this Independence Day (I-Day) on Tuesday is witnessing a mega outreach on part of the BJP to connect with masses, including those in rural UP. The I-Day campaign, the last ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, is focused at connecting with the masses on the emotive issue, which is also in sync with BJP’s larger push centering around ‘rashtrawaad’ (nationalism). Over the next three days, the BJP and its allies would be part of this outreach that would manifest itself through ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ - which basically means a Tricolour fluttering at each house,
‘Vibhajan Vibhishika (Partition Horrors)’ , a statewide campaign is aimed at conveying the horrors of Partition, subtly reinforcing the concept of nationalism and ‘Meri Maati Mera Desh (my soil, my country)’ is focused on remembering martyrs, connecting with their villages.
Tiranga Yatras and foot marches in rural UP by cadres who would march with a Tricolour in hand, would drum up the I-Day spirit further as BJP looks to tap the patriotic fervor to project itself as the party best suited to safeguard the country’s interest. In Lucknow, district magistrate Suryapal Gangwar has directed theatres to screen movies on patriotism free of cost.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, on Sunday, launched the three-day ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign from his Gorakhnath Mutt in Gorakhpur, of which he is also the head priest. Yogi Adityanath also took a selfie with ‘Tiranga’ and following suit, all ministers and BJP leaders, cadres started doing the same.
All BJP allies in UP are also part of the programmes. “Instructions have been sent to all colleges and universities to ensure that the programmes announced by the government are held as per schedule,” said BJP ally and Apna Dal (S) leader Ashish Patel, minister for technical education.
For instance, the SBSP, an OBC party that only recently rejoined BJP-led-NDA, has been assigned 8000 of the total 56000 villages in the state from where soil from the martyrs’ village is to be collected by booth-level workers and to be sent to Lucknow and Delhi – where a ‘Amrit Vatika’ would come up in their memory.
“As BJP ally in the NDA, we are partners in all BJP plans. This I-Day and Meri Maati Mera Desh are such welcome steps,” said SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, who is widely tipped to become a minister in Yogi 2.0, though the joining has been much-delayed.
All these activities would be accompanied by high-pitched sloganeering to praise the martyrs whose family would be felicitated and shilaphalakam (memorial plaques) placed in their honour in their villages.
Schools were especially open on Sunday to ensure that primary and secondary school students prepare essays and poetry or patriotic songs are penned.
“Best writings or acts would be rewarded while each participant would get a certificate,” a senior UP primary education department official said. In schools and colleges, a ‘panch pran’ or five pledges that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been referring to – making India a developed nation by 2047, take pride in India’s heritage, uphold country’s unity and integrity, fulfill duties expected as a citizen and respect those who safeguard the nation – would be administered while holding the soil in hand.
A subtle aspect of all these campaigns is to pitch the BJP as a party that has consistently held the ‘Tricolour and its defenders’ in high esteem – a message that political experts say could also come in handy in overriding the caste challenge that the BJP and allies expect in the Hindi heartland states like UP and Bihar, which together account for 140 Lok Sabha seats.
“The recent no-confidence motion debate in the Lok Sabha amplified this. The opposition attempted to run down the BJP by questioning the party’s contribution in the freedom movement while the BJP leaders hit back through some sharp and aggressive positioning on the issue of ‘Bharat Mata’, said Irshad Ilmi, a political commentator.
Ilmi was referring to how during the no confidence motion debate both BJP and Congress had tried to outdo each other on the nationalism pitch because nationalism is a “great unifier.”
Madrasas too would be tasked with distributing Tricolours in houses.
“Madrasas would be part of the Har Ghar Tiranga. A Tiranga means our pride and I believe each Indian should be part of this drive,” said UP minister for minorities Danish Azad Ansari even as Mohsin Raza, the state’s Haj committee chief put up a large Tricolour at his house to express solidarity with the party campaign.
The Tirangas will be provided in rural areas by chief development officers (CDOs) to block development officers (BDOs) who will in turn pass them on to panchayat secretaries. From gram panchayats, these Tricolours will find their way to each primary school, anganbadi centre, primary health centre and lekhpal.
Deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who also heads the rural development ministry, said, “Over 5 crore Tricolours will flutter proudly this year, much more than last time.” Maurya also inspected a women’s SHG that is one of the many tasked with preparing national flags.
“The villagers would be administered the ‘panch pran’ pledge and Tricolours would be hosted at around 9000 Amrit Sarovars. Each one of us does ‘maati ko naman, veeron ka vandan’ (bowing before motherland, hailing brave-hearts). This spirit runs in our blood,” Maurya added.