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Decoding Modi’s Rhetoric: The ‘Mutton, Machli, Mangalsutra, Muslims and Mughals’ Slogan is a Sign of BJP’s Desperation

Decoding Modi’s Rhetoric: The ‘Mutton, Machli, Mangalsutra, Muslims and Mughals’ Slogan is a Sign of BJP’s Desperation

  • The next phases of polls might witness more of such divisive stratagems by the BJP leaders, while the Election Commission, predictably, will look the other way.

When it comes to the prime minister of India, the pattern is as predictable. There seems to be a time-tested and strategic method in the madness.

Hate has various forms, like the ‘rasas’ in the Indian classical tradition. Hate speech is as deadly and diabolical, as actual physical violence and intimidation. It can be character assassination, destroying a person’s public image with lies, back-stabbing with vicious intent, and inciting violence through speech to demonize a community for no rhyme or reason, to spread disaffection and fear psychosis across peaceful communities, and to polarize the secular nation-state, using religion and other means to gain electoral and political dividends.

There are too many examples, and this article would only cite a few. For one, and funnily enough, the PM has found a new name for Rahul Gandhi. Earlier he was trolled as ‘Pappu,’ in what seemed a hugely-funded character assassination campaign, launched by the super-efficient Sangh Parivar troll factory. Now, Rahul Gandhi is being referred to as ‘Shehzaade’ – for obvious communal reasons. It is a symbolic attack on Muslim citizens of India. Rahul Gandhi has no family links with Islam, and calling him Shehzaade makes no sense because he is no prince of a hereditary monarchy.

Not once has the word ‘Muslim’ been used in the Congress manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. And, yet, the PM said: “Congress issued a bundle of lies in its manifesto… every page reeks of attempts to tear India apart. It reflects the thoughts the Muslim League had before independence.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge replied: “Everyone knows how original Hindutva and Jan Sangh leader, (Shyama) Prasad Mookerjee formed his governments in Bengal, Sindh and NWFP (North West Frontier Province) in the 1940s in coalition with the Muslim League.”

The fact is, the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS did not participate in the freedom struggle in which revolutionaries were hanged, tortured in the hell-holes of Andaman’s Kaala Paani, and leaders like Nehru spent almost nine years in jail, even as their founding father Guru Golwalkar was glorifying Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed.

Now, suddenly, again for no rhyme or reason, Pakistan is back as election bait. At the beginning of the campaign, the PM said in Patna: “Ghar mein ghus ke maarenge!” Surely, no statesman talks in such street-brawl language, other than perhaps the PM’s good friend – Benjamin Netanyahu. This is one step ahead of Donald Trump.

In Anand, Gujarat, recently, the PM said: “The weak Congress government used to give dossiers to the masters of terror. But, Modi’s strong government kills terrorists on their ground. It is a coincidence, today Congress is getting weaker in India, and, when, here, Congress is dying, and, there, Pakistan is crying. Now Pakistani leaders are offering ‘dua’ for Congress. Pakistan is eager to make ‘Shehzaada’ the prime minister and Congress is already Pakistan’s fan. This partnership between Pakistan and Congress has now been completely exposed.”

This speech, predictably, was also low on facts. An obscure former minister in the overthrown Imran Khan government in Pakistan made some appreciative reference to Rahul Gandhi. So, how does that boil down to “Pakistan eager to make” Rahul Gandhi the prime minister? How can Imran Khan, who is in jail and his party rendered powerless, manipulate the dance of democracy in India?

Since the hype about the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya did not take off, even in many parts of UP, Punjab and Haryana, where the BJP is struggling, the PM is playing all kinds of desperate cards in rally after rally.

Since the hype about the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya simply did not take off, even in many parts of UP, Punjab and Haryana, where the BJP is struggling in the face of huge farmers’ protests, the PM is playing all kinds of desperate cards in rally after rally. This is driven by specific reasons.

First, low turn-out. So stark is the sentiment of anti-incumbency that even BJP supporters apparently have refused to come out and vote. 

Second, a CSDS survey pointed out that mass unemployment and inflation are the two most important reasons that stalk the people and their political economy, not Ram Mandir, or Hindu-Muslim propaganda. 

Third, the ‘Abki baar, 400 paar’ slogan of the BJP has boomeranged. The INDIA alliance has effectively campaigned and spread the message among the SC-ST-OBC communities and minorities, that the BJP wants to score 400 to ‘change’ the Indian Constitution. This successful message has rattled the PM. That is why, he is now saying that Congress wants to change the Constitution, and take away the benefits of reservation from the SC-ST-OBC communities, and give it to the Muslims. The Congress manifesto says no such thing.

And, fourth, ground reports are predicting that the BJP might just get stuck around 200 plus seats. It might even go down to 150 – and the key states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan, might not go completely its way. In any case, unless there is a massive EVM fraud, the BJP just can’t sweep the elections as it did in 2019, thanks to the post-Pulwama national mood. Besides, there seems mass fatigue with the PM’s personality and speeches.

Hence, the desperation. Now, the narrative is that if you have two buffaloes, Congress will take away one. If you have two houses, the Congress will take away one. Your gold will be taken away by the Congress. Your Mangalsutra will be taken away. And all that will be given away to the Muslims! Pray, why should the Congress do that, and did they do that in the half-a-century of rule in Delhi in the past?

Hence, the 5Ms: Mutton, Machli, Mangalsutra, Muslims, and Mughals. And this card too has flopped, in a country where food habits are private, diverse and cultural, and the majority consumes meat. For instance, Hindus, Muslims and Christians in Kerala – all relish beef. And the food habits in Bengal, the North-east and Goa are not the same as in Gujarat – certainly!

During and after the Gujarat Genocide of 2002, when he was at the helm as chief minister, Modi was reported to have described the camp of thousands of displaced people in Ahmedabad as a “baby-producing factory.”  Later, he was again reported to have said – “Hum paanch, hamaare pachchees…” This was a direct attack on Muslims, and that too after 2,000 innocent Muslims were butchered in broad daylight in Gujarat, children burned alive, and women gang-raped, including Bilquis Bano, whose family was killed and her child was murdered.

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Hence, his recent controversial speech at Banswara in Rajasthan falls into a pattern. It, yet again, reflects acute signs of desperation: “This ‘urban Naxal’ mindset, mothers and sisters, they will not even leave your ‘mangalsutra.’ They can go to that level… Congress manifesto says they will calculate the gold with mothers and sisters, get information about it, and then distribute that property. They will distribute it to whom — Manmohan Singh’s government had said Muslims have first right on assets…”

“Earlier, when their (Congress) government was in power, they said Muslims have the first right to the country’s assets. This means to whom will this property be distributed? It will be distributed among those who have more children. It will be distributed to the infiltrators. Should your hard-earned money go to the infiltrators? Do you approve of this?” the PM said.

In reality, Manmohan Singh said, “We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development. They must have first claim on resources.”

Now Amit Shah is declaring that Rahul Gandhi will run the country based on Sharia. Yogi Adityanath has said that the Congress will allow cow slaughter. This is when, reportedly, the BJP took money from a beef export company as an electoral bond! Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena leader, has said that they took Rs. 550 crore from beef exporters.

All in all, the next phases of polls might feature many more such speeches by the PM and BJP leaders with diabolical intent, while the Election Commission, predictably, will look the other way.

(This story was first published in Times Headline and republished here with permission.)

(Top photo, Narendra Modi/Facebook.)

Amit Sengupta is a journalist and teacher based in Delhi.

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