Behzad Parvez | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — As an affirmation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) policy of not letting the state governments under non-BJP parties function normally and initiate welfare schemes according to the local needs, star saffron party campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, have been issuing veiled threats to the people of poll-bound states to elect their party for double-engine governments or face the consequences.
Non-BJP-ruled states like Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Delhi have long been accusing the Central government of meting out step-motherly treatment to them. The Centre, they have been claiming, was creating unnecessary hurdles in the development of their states by procrastinating in providing their budgetary allocations and sleeping over schemes initiated by them but requiring the Centre’s nod.
Karnataka goes to the polls on May 10, and later in the year, the people of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh would also elect their legislative assemblies. In these polls, dubbed semi-final to the 2024 general elections, the BJP and the Congress are in a direct contest.
Speaking at an election rally in Humnabad in Karnataka’s Bidar District, Prime Minister Modi virtually threatened the electorate by saying that for the continuity of the developmental projects and unhindered economic growth of the state, they should again vote for the BJP and ensure a double-engine government.
The elections are not about forming a government in the state but about making Karnataka the number one state in the country, he added.
The prime minister’s comments are being taken as a warning to the people that the progress and development in the state will take a back seat if they do not re-elect the incumbent BJP government. This warning is also being viewed in political circles as a clear sign that the ruling dispensation, already reeling under massive dissensions and defections in its ranks, is fighting a lost cause and a defeat at the hustings is imminent.
Also, BJP leaders are apparently adhering to the doctrine of Joseph Goebbels, chief propagandist for Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, to “repeat a lie often enough till it becomes the truth” while campaigning in the states where elections are due this year.
Already facing the wrath of the opposition for suggesting that Karnataka would witness communal riots if Congress is voted to power, Amit Shah is also being targeted for claiming that Congress has pledged to release all activists of the banned Popular Front of India (PFI) lodged in various jails if it forms the government.
Congress has not taken the home minister’s “blatant lie” in its stride and has approached the Election Commission (EC) to keep the record straight and call out Shah’s bluff. It has demanded that Shah should not be allowed to campaign in Karnataka anymore. Of course, by the time the EC is “allowed” to act, curtains would finally draw to a close on the poll campaigning in Karnataka.
On the riots issue, it was not clear what Home Minister Shah was hinting at: Would it be that Congress will throw the state into a communal cauldron or the BJP itself will engineer large-scale riots — more often than not targeting the minorities, especially Muslims — and wreak havoc on the pluralistic and largely peaceful population of the southern state?
This was not the first time that Amit Shah has been found to be on the wrong foot. In West Bengal elections too he has made similar innuendos against a people who steadfastly rejected his majoritarian politics. Shah’s diatribe is symptomatic of his penchant for muscular posturing and dislike of a state where the BJP has miserably failed in garnering electoral gains even after employing its usual set of divisive tricks and polarising game plan.
In election rallies in Karnataka, Modi has been harping on the double-engine government theme: “The double power of central and state BJP governments is very much required. BJP attracted Rs 90,000 crore FDI every year which is three times more against Congress’s Rs 30,000 crore FDI,” he said.
As if cautioning the electorate against not voting for the BJP, Modi said: “People of Karnataka don’t want to step backwards from their dreams. They want to be with BJP as they want the construction of highways, metro lines, more Vande Bharat trains to run in the state, and facilities to every corner of the land. They have seen the speed of development under the BJP rule and want to be with it.”
A veiled threat: Vote for the BJP in the state to enjoy the fruits of progress and development or forget about them as we control the big engine at the Centre.
Photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections, in Humnabad on April 29. — IANS