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How BJP keeps the pot boiling

Last updated on: June 03, 2021 08:11 IST
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Behind this never-say-die attitude of the BJP is probably the calculation of the Roman emperors that if bread is scarce, give the people circus, observes Amulya Ganguli.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi surveys areas in Odisha and West Bengal affected by Cyclone Yaas, May 28, 2021.
A protracted spat thereafter broke out between the Centre and the West Bengal government over Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's alleged breach of protocol over the prime minister's visit. Photograph: Press Information Bureau

The BJP has a remarkable ability to keep stirring the political cauldron.

While its opponents appear to be in a somnolent state, engaged mainly in tweeting from their air-conditioned bungalows, the BJP is always up and about, making its presence felt by latching on to one issue or another.

Like a magician, the party can conjure up a controversy out of the blue to catch its critics off guard while serving a saffron agenda.

The row over Lakshadweep is one such.

While no one in the national Opposition, not to mention the rest of the people, had any inkling that the issue can suddenly hit the headlines, the BJP must have been working quietly behind the scenes to prepare the ground for brewing trouble in the sun-drenched paradise of the archipelago near the Kerala coast.

Not surprisingly, the plotters are from Gujarat, a long-established laboratory of experiments in advancing the cause of Hindutva.

The chief among them is the former home minister of the state, Praful Khoda Patel, who is known for his proximity to the two other notable Gujaratis -- Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and Home Minister Amit Anilchandra Shah.

The 'architectural' project in which Praful Khoda Patel is engaged in Lakshadweep is to demonstrate to another Muslim-majority Union Territory (after Kashmir) that it is the Hindutva forces who are in charge.

Hence, the ban on beef and the enforcement of a Goonda Act (even if the 36 atolls and coral reefs have the lowest crime record in the country) to let the Muslims (real or potential ISI agents?) know that the halcyon days of 'secular' laxity is over.

The purpose behind the BJP's tactis of keeping a slow fire smouldering beneath its opponents' feet is not only to keep them running around in a daze, but also to divert attention from the government's failures on the Covid front.

But, even otherwise, the BJP has mastered the art of pulling one card out of the sleeve after another.

If it was the Ram temple issue in the 1990s, it was the abrogation of Article 370 two decades later.

If it is an endeavour to tame the new East India Companies -- Twitter, Facebook et al -- today, it is to allow district officials to legitimise the citizenship status of non-Muslim refugees tomorrow.

Even while waving these nationalist/Hindutva flags, the BJP does not forget to carry on its battles against those whom the party sees as its mortal enemies such as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Brushing aside a defeat inflicted on the BJP by her in frontal warfare, the saffron warriors lost little time to resort to flanking movements to pounce on a bureaucrat since the commander of the victorious opposing army proved to be too formidable an adversary.

Behind this never-say-die attitude of the BJP is probably the calculation of the Roman emperors that if bread is scarce, give the people circus.

From the demolition of the Babri masjid to the construction of Vallabhbhai Patel's statue to the building of a new parliament, it's been circus all along.

The BJP is aware that the only way to overcome the negativity of corpses floating down the Ganga or the plummeting growth figures is by focussing attention on the promise to turn Lakshadweep into Maldives or set up a Doordarshan channel on the lines of the BBC.

Its tenacity, which is in striking contrast to the Opposition's lethargy, deserves at least two cheers.

Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs.

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