BJP president Amit Shah flagged off the party’s Parivartan Yatra with a rally in Saharanpur. But as Shah’s speech progressed, it became clear that his talk of Parivartan and development in UP is just a smokescreen. The BJP’s main strategy in these elections is to create a communal polarisation by targetting UP’s Muslim minority.
It is also a place which witnessed communal violence in July 2014, barely a few months after the Narendra Modi government came to power. BJP has particularly been focusing on Saharanpur. PM Modi chose to celebrate his 2 years in office with a rally in Saharanpur in May this year.
Amit Shah cleverly chose his targets in his speech, focusing on the Muslim leaders in Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
“Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav projects himself as a Vikas Purush. He says that as long as he is the chief minister, leaders like Afzal Ansari and Mukhtar Ansari will not be included in the SP. The people of UP want to ask you, that Afzal Ansari is in your party and you are still the CM. Under your rule, what will happen to Afzal Ansari, what will you do about Ateeq Ahmed, about Azam Khan? The entire SP is full of Ateeqs, Azams, Afzals and Mukhtars”.
Clearly, this was not a reference to leaders with a criminal background whom the SP has allegedly patronised. Had that been the case, he would have mentioned the most notorious case – of Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiya. While Mukhtar Ansari and Ateeq Ahmed do have a criminal background, the same cannot be said about Azam Khan.
The only thing common between all these leaders is that they are all Muslims.
This “attack Muslims” approach was clear even in his attack on BSP supremo Mayawati.
“Behanji (Mayawati) says that she will liberate UP from them (SP). If there are Ateeq, Azam, Afzal and Mukhtar here, we have Nasimuddin (Siddiqui) there (in BSP). Where will you escape to? It’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
“We have no one of this sort. There are no Gundas in BJP. We have no place for Gundas in BJP. Only BJP can create a Gunda Mukt UP,” Shah added.
Siddiqui is the most prominent Muslim leader in BSP. Though he faces corruption charges, he is not known for having a criminal background.