Originally Published 2014-09-20 00:00:00 Published on Sep 20, 2014
Commentators across the country have put their fingers on the issue on which the BJP erred, which resulted in such a setback in the byelections. The people of the country look up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a harbinger of peace, progress and development.
Will  BJP draw correct lessons from the electoral setbacks?

In the recently held by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, the BJP and its Parivar went all out in resorting to communal propaganda. Heading the list of the BJP propagandists was its president Amit Shah himself. Addressing a meeting in the communally explosive Muzaffarnagar in April, Amit Shah said that in the forthcoming byelections, the Hindu communities viz, Gujjars, Rajputs and Dalits should take revenge against all those who killed people of their communities. At the instance of the Election Commission, the state police registered a case under Section 153 of the IPC against Amit Shah and submitted a charge sheet against him. The charge sheet was returned by the Magistrate for alleged procedural irregularities. The police are now preparing to resubmit the charge sheet after taking care of the lacunae.

BJP office-bearers like Laxmikant Bajpai, UP party president, and Sangeet Som, a party MLA, spoke of love jihad and the alleged increase in incidents of eve-teasing. They also alleged that cow slaughter was on the increase and, therefore, should be kept under check in view of the coming Bakra Eid festival.

More than any of these rabble-rousers, it was the Gorakhpur BJP MP, Yogi Adityanath, who made even more serious and communally disturbing speeches. Yogi Adityanath said that where Muslims accounted for 10-20 per cent of the population, communal incidents took place and where Muslims accounted for more than 30 per cent, there was no place for non-Muslims. Yogi Adityanath was refused permission by the Lucknow police to hold a rally, but he defied the police and mounted a truck along with state BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai and drove through the streets making speeches. The police did not try to prevent him physically since they apprehended a serious law and order situation. However, they are now launching prosecution against Yogi Adityanath. Being politically short-sighted, the BJP president did not restrain himself, leave aside restraining others from indulging in blatant communal propaganda and hatred against the minority community.

Raj Mohan Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and a Professor in an American university, has come out with an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure peace in the potentially explosive Hindi heartland. Raj Mohan Gandhi has stated that the present political and communal atmosphere in Uttar Pradesh reminded him of the undivided Punjab in 1947 which witnessed horrendous communal riots. He recalled the massacre of Muslims in Garhmukteshwar, not far from Meerut and Moradabad, in 1946. He appealed to the Prime Minister to restrain his party men and ensure safety of 40 million Muslims in UP, who seem to face an imminent danger because of vicious communal propaganda let loose by the BJP and its allied organisations.

The VHP has come out with a programme of action to check cow slaughter during Bakra Eid festival in October. It announced its intention to set up chowkies and deploy flying squads to check the transportation of cows.

On September 13 the byelections for 11 seats in Uttar Pradesh, nine seats in Gujarat and four in Rajasthan were held. The results have shown that communal election propaganda and the spreading of hatred do not really help in political life, much less in elections and byelections.

The byelection results show that the BJP has suffered a setback in all states where the byelections were held. In Uttar Pradesh the BJP secured three, while the Samajwadi Party took away the remaining eight. This happen in a state where only a few months back Amit Shah, the BJP president, had worked out a very successful contest in the Lok Sabha elections by securing 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav rightly commented that the people of Uttar Pradesh had turned their faces against communalism.

In Rajasthan, which has a charismatic BJP Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, the party could gain only one seat, conceding the remaining to the Congress party. More than any other state, it was Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, which brought disappointment to the BJP and the PM himself with the party retaining only six of the nine seats, while the Congress took the remaining three. That this should happen when the state has a BJP Chief Minister, not to speak of the Prime Minister himself, clearly highlighted the declining popularity of the BJP.

Commentators across the country have put their fingers on the issue on which the BJP erred, which resulted in such a setback in the byelections. The people of the country look up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a harbinger of peace, progress and development. When his own party leaders resorted to communal and divisive propaganda, the people taught them a lesson by choosing candidates put up by secular parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

It is hoped that the BJP and its allied organisations would draw the correct lessons from the results of the byelections in the states and avoid such divisive politics henceforth. The BJP leadership should have by now realised that blatant communalisation of electoral politics does not really pay.

People recall the Independence Day speech of Prime Minister Modi from the rampart of the Red Fort on August 15, when he spoke of "Sab ke saath, Sab ka vikas". Also he called for a 10-year moratorium on caste and communal strife in the country. It is, therefore, essential for PM Modi to ensure that his words are honoured by his own party down the line.

(The writer is a former Governor of Uttar Pradesh and a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau)

Courtesy: The Tribune

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