2019 Elections: Is Pakistan BJP’s Go-To Answer for All Questions?

The leaders will be questioned on poll issues and in response, all we will get is Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan...

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Pakistan has always been one of the key issues in the discourse of Indian elections. It’s almost a tradition now that both the ruling party and the Opposition will try and target each other on the issue of Pakistan.

Hence, it’s no surprise that right before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP leaders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, are attempting to target Congress over Pakistan. On the other hand, Congress has hit back by claiming that PM Modi’s policies on Pakistan are weak.

One side says that those who question the army should go to Pakistan while on the other side, Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) have sought more information from the government on the timing of the Pulwama attack and the fallout of Balakot air strikes.

‘Remove Modi at All Cost’

Even before he formally started his 2019 campaign, PM Modi alleged a link between Pakistan and Congress. At a public rally in Tonk (Rajasthan), PM said, “I am saddened by those who live in India but speak in favour of Pakistan. These are the same people who go to Pakistan and say – do whatever you have to but remove Modi at all cost.”

During 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls’ campaign too, PM Modi had claimed a connection between Pakistan and Congress. He alleged that a few Congress leaders had a meeting with leaders from Pakistan. Pakistan is trying to make sure that Ahmed Patel wins.

‘Congress Candidate Is a Relative of Masood Azhar’

CM Yogi Adityanath took this line of attack a step further than PM Modi. Without taking the name of Congress candidate Imran Masood, Yogi tried to establish a connection between him and Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar.

During a rally in Saharanpur, Yogi said, “You must have heard the name of Masood Azhar. In Saharanpur, there is a damad (son-in-law) of Masood Azhar who speaks exactly like him. Now, you have to decide who should win?”

After PM Modi and CM Yogi, it was the turn of Union Minister Arun Jaitley. Taking a dig at Sam Pitroda for asking a question on Balakot air strikes, Jaitley said that Pitroda’s popularity has surged in Pakistan. He said, “Sam Pitroda’s TRP in Pakistan is very high at present. Hence, I am sure that opposition to his statements in India will be equally high.”

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav have also tried to showcase Congress and Pakistan as allies. Rupani had claimed that if Congress wins, Pakistan will celebrate Diwali and Ram Madhav had asked Congress to contest election in Pakistan.

Impact of Such Statements on Society

The Prime Minister and chief ministers have a very high following. Hence, if they tell someone to go Pakistan or connect a person or a party to Pakistan, then it will definitely have an impact on their supporters.

The recent attack on a Muslim family in Gurugram is an example. During a scuffle at a cricket match, a few people beat up a Muslim youngster and then, told him to go to Pakistan.

2018 witnessed the registration of the highest number of hate crimes in the country. Between 2009 and 2018, 280 hate crimes were registered in which 100 people lost their lives and 692 were injured.

Response to Every Question Is Pakistan

Today, when you question leaders on core issues, the response that you get is Pakistan. Those who raise questions are labelled “anti-national”, “pro-Pakistan”, “libtard”, “urban naxal” etc. Right now, the unemployment rate is one of the highest ever in the country and there is no discussion on healthcare or education.

Now that the election season is upon us, the leaders will be questioned on these issues and in response, all we will get is ‘Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan...’

The story was originally published on Quint Hindi and has been translated by Anubhav Mishra)

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