Only weeks ago, Janta Ka Reporter exclusively revealed the dangerous plan of the BJP when it reported an incredibly polarising statement made by one of the saffron party spokespersons, Sambit Patra.
This was after Patra stunningly claimed that his party candidate’s defeat in Kairana bypolls was the defeat of Hindus and victory of Muslims. While taking part in a live TV debate on News24, Patra told the show’s anchor, Manak Gupta, “If one religious group (Muslims) decides to polarise, then other group (Hindus) too will polarise. This shouldn’t happen but if one group has voted en masse for a particular candidate, then please mark my words, this will have its effect across India.”
In his opinion piece, Janta Ka Reporter’s editor-in-chief, Rifat Jawaid, had argued that Patra had the habit of uttering things that the higher echelon of his party would not publicly utter for the fear of public reprisals. In other words, Patra’s seemingly bizarre utterances are often prompted by a shrewd political design, to extract the much-needed electoral advantage. His stocks within the saffron party have skyrocketed in the recent months, particularly after he was made an independent director in the government-owned ONGC.
Few weeks later, BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman appear to have finally given the party’s official approval to what Patra had stated on a TV channel last month. Speaking at a meeting of party leaders in Hyderabad, Shah reportedly said that the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya will commence before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“Considering the developments, I believe that construction of Ram temple will begin before the coming general elections,” BJP National Executive member Perala Sekharjee quoted Shah as saying. This statement evoked angry reactions from commentators on social media, where they expressed their surprise at the confidence of BJP president despite the case being heard by the Supreme Court.
Journalist MK Venu asked, “Amit Shah has told Zee TV that Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya to begin before 2019 elections. How is he so confident Supreme Court will pronounce Ayodhya judgement a) before 2019 elections and b) it will be in favour of temple construction on that spot.”
Fearing that it may be accused of influencing the Supreme Court’s judgement, the saffron party issued a quick denial. A flash by ANI said, “BJP denies media agency report of Amit Shah making assurances on Ram Mandir in a meeting in Hyderabad yesterday, says “no such matter was even on the agenda.”
But Shah’s statement wasn’t in isolation. Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too received flak for aiming to cause communal riots in India ahead of the next year’s elections to polarise votes in favour of the BJP. This was after Sitharaman told a news conference, “Congress party shall be solely responsible if any disharmony plays out between now and 2019 elections.”
This statement by her was widely interpreted as her party’s plans to cause communal strife and lay the blame on the Congress. Journalist Nikhil Waghle tweeted, “Nirmala Sitharaman should resign as defence minister and take charge of rumour mongering dept of BJP.” Academician and columnist Ashok Swain asked, “Is this lady India’s defense minister or minister for fake news distribution?” Blogger Suvojit wrote, “Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement is intended at providing cover fire for BJP’s communal agenda, which is likely to intensify in the coming months.”
Independent analysts are almost unanimous that, faced with huge anti-incumbency and the challenge of a united opposition, the BJP may repeat Gujarat to dangerously communalise the elections. It had taken a 2002 anti-Muslim riots for Modi to cement his position as chief minister indefinitely before he staked his claim for India’s prime minister. This time around, the shrewd politician from Gujarat faces an existential crisis. You can only imagine his desperation to win the next Lok Sabha elections.