Narendra Modi’s recent statement at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) that he does not discriminate against the minorities and Amit Shah’s claim in West Bengal that his party would not like to push with the Citizenship Act in Covid times are significant strategic commitments.
It is important that we understand the evolution of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in greater detail and try to study its rise to power more objectively and not react with instinctive ‘aversion’ – the mistake that the opposition parties continue to commit at the moment. Each move is very well orchestrated as is clearly traced by the political analyst Vinay Sitapati in his recent book “Jugalbandi”. Sitapati earlier book “Half Lion” had traced the career of the controversial Congress Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Banking on multiple sources, Sitapati showed very objectively how the Congress party erred in dealing with the now forgotten prime minister, who clearly saved India from an economic disaster. In Jugalbandi again with the backing of several sources including interviews with prominent insiders Sitapati traces hundred years of the evolution of BJP and shows how the partnership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is not a coincidence but a very well thought out plan of the party to strategise. This ‘jugalbandi’ was seen not just in Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani but also earlier in Shyamaprasad Mukherjee and Deendayal Upadhyaya. One complemented the other. Vajpayee and Advani differed on many things – for example, as Sitapati writes, on whether Modi should be dismissed after the Gujarat riots – but took a decision only after a discussion analyzing the ground realities.
The strategies have changed with times. The method of operation of Modi-Shah duo is very different from that of Vajpayee-Advani. The recent statements on minorities and CAA are deliberate. It’s not a change of heart but a change of ‘head’. “Hindutya” is an election strategy – the way Modi won Gujarat elections after the riots. Vajpayee might have though in terms of ethics, but Modi did not. Again, the softening of stand regarding minorities is a ground reality – especially when elections are round the corner in West Bengal and Assam.
There are other reasons too. Modi has been visiting the Muslim countries in recent times and receiving warm welcome. With the change in power in the US, there are possibilities of sanctions being lifted from Iran, a ‘friend’ country of India which had earlier criticized India’s persecution of Muslims. AMU has many students from the Middle East and other Muslim countries and Modi very conscious of his image. It’s also important that India also improves its relations with its neighbor Bangladesh which was strained after centre pursued the CAA particularly in the border states like West Bengal and Assam. India would not like its friendly neighbours like Bangladesh and Nepal remain estranged for long and allow China to grab the advantage and move in.
The opposition parties seem to take the wrong route in creating an aversion among the people for BJP by labeling it ‘communal’. BJP is a clever party. It goes by ground realities. People need to react with the head, not the heart. If the BJP is faulted for manipulating the media, so can the opposition be. Let facts come to the forefront and people be made aware to take decisions based on facts. It will help the media, the political parties and the country.