It’s vendetta, not manifesto, again
Nothing works better than diatribe, at least in India. Stoking the worst kind of fears pertaining to communal violence, Amit Shah has instigated civilians to consider the general elections as an ‘opportunity to seek revenge for the insult’ inflicted on them during last year’s riots in Muzaffarnagar. With yet unconfirmed reports of Shah himself possibly having a meaty role in orchestrating the violence doing the riots, the BJP in-charge of Uttar Pradesh poll campaign has added fuel to the raging fire of religious and ethnic tensions in the region. Now booked for his clearly unconstitutional conduct, Shah’s ‘vendetta’ motif runs deep through the choppy waters of sentimental politics that India is grappling with. Amit Shah’s advice to the gathering of Jats in Shamli, one of the worst riot-ravaged areas, to ‘teach a lesson’ to others, indicating the Muslims, reeks of blatant communalism, gives away the hidden game of the saffron camp. While BJP’s posterboy and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi harps on ephemeral developmental models and cites unverifiable statistics to prop up his case, the likes of Shah are used to rouse the basest of instincts amongst the ore rabid supporters of the Hindutva brigade. In this light, vendetta politics is forwarded as an effective tool to counter the opponents’ ‘secularism’, which now gets lambasted as an antiquated plank, no longer of service to the decidedly polarised and much splintered electorate. Shah’s blatant overtures to Jats to avenge their purported insult, even though it is the Muslims who have been the worst affected in the Muzaffarnagar riots, preys on and plays off the communally-chalked vulnerabilities and identity politics along sectarian lines, grossly and intentionally violating the model code of conduct as laid down by the election commission.
It is obvious that the BJP-led saffron camp is banking on political revenge porn than more procedural steps like issuing the national election manifesto even. Other than their multi-platform propaganda blitzkrieg, choking the news and social media, as well as other sites in the public sphere, with ‘Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkar’ campaigns, BJP has little else to fall back on but for the regular dose of vitriol aimed at the most sensitive of voters and regions. Elections 2014, no doubt, is the most viciously fought poll battles in recent memory, but the likes of Shah simply lower the bar of electoral conduct to unfathomable levels of hypocrisy and lunacy. Such engineering of divisive drives, while overlooking the actual points of governmental service, not even bothering to come up with a pan-India manifesto when other parties have already brought theirs out, amounts to sheer condescension towards the actual electorate. Never mind the rising graph of youth participation, or the role of digital drama and online activism is setting the poll agenda, politicians are falling back on the oldest and dirtiest of tricks to consolidate their electoral fates. Bad language, politics of abusive exclusion are but footnotes in the mighty stream of consciousness that is the general elections.