Fazed by growing resentments against the party across the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat is again resorting to communal tactics. Analysts feel that in a desperate bid to recapture power, the saffron party is likely to hatch a conspiracy to further divide voters along communal lines .
A poster doing the rounds on WhatsApp and other social media channels, allegedly released by a local unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Gujarat, is asking the electorate to choose between ‘RAM’ and ‘HAJ’. The poster bears pictures of Gujarat’s CM Vijay Rupani, BJP President Amit Shah and PM Modi to connote ‘RAM’, while ‘HAJ’ in the controversial poster is seen representing Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani.
RSS’ Amraiwadi Nagar unit in Ahmedabad is believed to be behind the picture.
The poster titled ‘Pasangi Tamari’ (Your Choice) also carries party symbols of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress. Besides, there is a picture of Hindu deity Rama next to where the BJP trio is, while the lower half carries a visual from the holy site in Mecca.
The reference seems to be to project Congress as teaming up with three “detractors” of the BJP, and Muslims.
An Ahmedabad-based journalist told National Herald that the BJP was involved in two political turf wars in the upcoming state election. “Politically, the BJP is pitted against a resurging Congress under the helm of its vice president Rahul Gandhi, even as it fights the Dalit and Patidar community leaders on the social front,” he said on condition of anonymity.
“The BJP has only one weapon, and that is religion, to counter both,” the scribe added.
The journalist reckoned that the BJP, in a way, had acknowledged that its development plank wasn’t working anymore, due to which it was trying to play up religion.
The development comes on the heels of Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakore seen teaming up with Congress in the run-up to the election. While Alpesh has officially joined Congress, both Jignesh and Hardik are yet to declare their official support for the party.
However, there is a speculation that PAAS would field their candidates on Congress’ symbol.
Poll pundits are saying that results on at least 120 out of Gujarat’s total 182 seats could be influenced, should the Dalit-Patidar and the OBC community join hands for the upcoming polls. According to the last Census, Dalits comprised nearly seven per cent of the state’s population, while Patidars formed a share of 13 per cent. The northern and southern part of the western state stand to be the most affected.
According to an estimate, Thakores comprise about half the OBC population, mainly concentrated in the norther part of the state. Alpesh Thakore’s influence in the region is likely to affect the result in favor of the Congress, seasoned election watchers feel.
The Ahmedabad-based journalist feels that visible resentment against the BJP among the Dalit and OBC community was the reason behind the party trying to woo the tribals concentrated in the eastern part of the state. “Traditionally Congress voters, the tribals are being courted by the BJP, which seems scared of the impact the Dalits and the OBC could have on the election outcome,” he said.
Political analysts believe that accusations against Congress leader Ahmed Patel by CM Rupani shouldn’t be seen in isolation to emerging political trends in the state
Rupani has accused Ahmed Patel of “helping terrorists” to score jobs in a hospital, where a senior Congress leader used to be a trustee. Congress has however refused to be drawn into the political war of words, even as it has hit out against the BJP for levelling baseless allegations against its leaders.