At Varanasi, Modi claimed to have been beckoned by ‘Ma Ganga’. He also mused publicly on ‘ganga-jamuni tehzeeb’, Kabir, Ghalib and Ustad Bismillah Khan. If all this sounded to be soft music meant to reassure simultaneously the hardcore Hindu sentiment as well as the multiculturalist Indian sensibility, Modi was back to his vicious and vitriolic self while delivering election speeches in West Bengal. At Srirampur in West Bengal, he said Bangladeshis in India will have to pack up after May 16. Coupled with Giriraj Singh’s earlier threat to send all Modi opponents packing to Pakistan, this is a calculated attempt to divert the attention of the Indian electorate from the internal issues that plague the country o perceived threats emanating allegedly from India’s western and eastern neighbours.
In the Sangh’s code, of course, all Bangla-speaking Muslims are ‘Bangladeshi’. Poor migrants who fit this profile are the targets of hate-speech and witch-hunts by the RSS and BJP all over India. For instance, soon after a recent fire that gutted a slum in Delhi and left thousands of migrant worker families homeless, the ‘Bangladeshi’ word was bandied about ominously. In his speech during the Assam elections, Modi had suggested that the rhino was being killed as a conspiracy to make room for ‘illegal Bangladeshis’. These references are calculated to foment anti-Muslim hatred and suspicion – an essential part of Modi’s political strategy.
In Uttar Pradesh itself, Modi and his campaign managers are acutely aware that there is no Modi ‘tsunami’ yet. They are calculatedly aiming to attract Dalit and OBC voters to the BJP fold with – what else – the old RSS tactic of sowing hatred against Muslims. So, the RSS tells OBCs that the SP Government has let Muslims get above themselves. And Amit Shah at Bijnor asked why BSP had given 19 tickets to a particular community “that violates the honour of sisters and daughters” while it had only given 17 tickets to Dalits. Even if Modi were to chant the names of Ghalib and Kabir every day, he could not wash out the taint of the repeated attempts by him and his henchmen to brand Muslims as ‘Bangladeshis’ and ‘violators of the honour of sisters and daughters.’
Even as Modi seeks to woo Dalits, his camp follower the saffron-robed Ramdev let slip the real RSS contempt for Dalits. In an attack on Rahul Gandhi, he made a leering innuendo about ‘honeymoons’ in Dalit homes. This was a wink-wink reference to the practice of feudal men treating dalit women as sexual property. First, it was Asaram, who expounded his views on how women are responsible for rape, and then is himself accused of raping a minor. Asaram continues to be publicly defended by BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy, and various Sangh outfits. After Asaram, Ramdev is yet another godman close to Modi, who has provided a window into the Sanghi mind and how it views women, especially Dalit women.
Modi’s campaign, ably assisted by a remarkably submissive and pliant mainstream media, has already declared him the PM, even before the elections are complete. But with determined democratic fighters and the revolutionary Left exposing and challenging every communal gambit and every false claim of ‘development’, the battle is still very much on. It is a battle for the future of India and Indian democracy. It is a battle India must and shall win.