Sensing the possibility of mid-term Lok Sabha elections because of a series of corruption charges against the Congress, the BJP has virtually gone into the poll mode.
BJP national president Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday carried forward the party’s newly-coined secular slogan of nationalism and social harmony and tried to woo farmers by making tall electoral promises of loan waiver, better minimum support price and his pet subject of drawing ethanol from molasses.
Interestingly, Gadkari chose Deoband, a small town in Saharanpur district, better known for housing Darul Uloom — the second largest Muslim seminary in the world — to address his first such rally in Uttar Pradesh that has sitting MP from BSP and MLA from Samajwadi party.
Launching a three-pronged attack on the ‘scam ridden’ and ‘dynastic’ Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi, the “lawless” and “Muslim appeasement” oriented rule of the Samajwadi Party and the “one stop corruption shop” of Mayawati, Gadkari tried to sell a fresh-faced BJP based on the principles of social harmony and justice, nationalism and economic policies focused on poor and farmers.
“We want to do healthy politics based on nationalism and social harmony wherein people of all castes and religions and economic backgrounds will have equal opportunity of justice. It will not be based on casteism and communalism,” he said addressing a crowd of about 4,000 people where the Muslim presence was dismal despite Deoband having a sizeable Muslim population. The Darul Uloom also seemed to watch it from a distance.
At the same time, the BJP seemed to in a confused state of mind whether it should sell just the newly acquired secular face based on nationalism and social harmony or also keep its Hindu agenda of Ram Mandir on the shelf as it also fielded its national vice president Vinay Katiyar, founder-president of the Bajrang Dal, who is well known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Katiyar did not miss out delivering the BJP’s pro-Hindu stand. Amid cheers of predominantly Hindu crowd, he promised constructing Ram Mandir on the demolished Babri Masjid site and removing special status to Jammu and Kashmir by repealing Article 370 soon after acquiring power in the Centre.
“This is necessary as we can lose out on Hindu votes if we take only the secular line of social harmony. After all this is what made us a big party,” said a local BJP politician trying to reason out the dichotomy.
A top state-level BJP leader said the party feels mid-term polls will be held within 8 to 9 months and has adopted a three pronged strategy to succeed in Uttar Pradesh where the voter is disenchanted and frustrated with both Mulayam and Mayawati and also Congress because of the recent scams. “We will announce the list of candidates before December 31, increase our party’s cadre strength and make nationalism an agenda,” he said adding that former chief minister Kalyan Singh is all set to join the party again bringing back the Lodh votes with him.