As the polling for the 16th Lok Sabha election enters a crucial phase and it becomes clearer that the Congress is going to be a victim of anti-incumbency, its desperation to hold on to the power is crossing all the limits.
The efforts have been on to communalise the election and what is more surprising is the fact that as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's unstoppable march continues its historic journey from Gandhinagar to Lutyens Delhi, it is the so-called secular parties like the Congress and the Samajvadi Party that are restoring to the communal card to stop Modi's march.
What interesting times we live in! The supposedly communal Narendra Modi has not resorted to the communal rhetorics once even. When the bombs were discovered in his Patna rally, many thought that it was a godsend opportunity for Narendra Modi to play the communal card. But it was not to be so. He stuck to his guns refusing to buckle under pressure from zealots who wanted to derail his development talk.
If we look at the electioneering of the Congress and the Samajvadi Party - the so-called champions of secularism, what stands out is their attempts at communalising the elections. Azam Khan's potshots at Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have reached legendary proportions. His Kargil remark had shocked the entire country. On the other hand, the Congress finds itself in a time warp of 2002. Its refusal to move beyond 2002 is a serious cause of worry because the whole country has left 2002 behind it and now the talk is all about secure, safe and prosperous future. The Congress is so desperate for power that it still thinks that the post Godhra riots of 2002 can help its electoral cause by keeping its vote bank intact.
The heart of the matter is Narendra Modi is no longer shackled by the ghost of 2002. The reason for this is investigating authorities have failed to prove his involvement in the bloodbath. The SIT has given him the clean chit and the Ahmedabad court has upheld this clean chit.
In a blogpost, Narendra Modi has laid bare his state of mind and painful feelings he suffered at the outbreak of violence in 2002 after the court upheld this clean chit. To bring a closure to this entire unfortunate saga, he promises, in the same blogpost, to work to ensure smile on the face of every Indian. The matter should have ideally come to an end then and there.
But the Congress wants to keep the ghosts of 2002 alive and kicking. It is not that it wants justice for the victims. On the contrary, it wants to retain its hold on power by taking up the Godhra and the 2002 violence to position itself as a Muslim sympathiser. The obvious aim of this pro Muslim posturing is vote bank politics and appeasement that has certainly not benefitted Muslims but it has hugely benefitted the Congress.
But this one way relationship is at a breaking point in this 16th Lok Sabha election. The people have realised that the so-called communal forces are talking about development for all and appeasement for none. They have exposed secularism as a means to seek votes for power and this pseudo secularism is losing its appeal slowly but steadily.
The Congress has been practising the divisive and communal politics right since Independence. Till now there was no one who had challenged the Congress on its interpretation of secularism. Now the times are changing and the Congress is feeling the heat from the constituents over its misdeeds and mismanagement of natural resources while in power. No longer it is able to divert attention from these burning issues by playing the communal versus secular card.
To make the matter worse, the Godhra ghosts are no longer arousing the expected passions even amongst Muslims who have seen communal harmony, peace and development in Gujarat post Godhra. Therefore if the Congress loses this election (which looks most likely), it will be a mandate against its decisive politics and twisted form of secularism and a mandate in favour of the man who promises development for all. Finally, India is on the verge of bidding adieu to the politics of communalism. This is what makes this Lok Sabha election quite interesting.