Modi said nothing about Dadri, he just brought beef into the Bihar election
The media, however, rushed to report that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally broken his silence on the Dadri lynching during his speech in Munger. But what has happened is actually the reverse. Modi has cleverly brought beef into the centre-stage of Bihar’s electoral battle.
Beef is now THE issue in Bihar-elections. Modi’s timing was perfect. Remember, these are the last few days of campaigning before the first phase of polling on 12 October.
Modi’s Munger speech on 8 October needs to be examined carefully to understand that he was using a time-tested method of covertly communalising elections.
Modi hit out at Lalu Prasad for his statement that Hindus also eat beef. He attacked Lalu by saying that Lalu has insulted Yaduvanshis who had brought him to power.
Modi said that in Gujarat, Yaduvanshis had brought white revolution. By rearing cows they had made Amul possible. He further ridiculed Lalu’s retraction in which he said that he had spoken under the influence of the devil. He asked whether the devil chose Lalu as he was his kin.
This was the first time the Prime Minister was speaking publicly after Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched to death in Dadri.
Instead of expressing grief at the killing, he chose to make beef and white revolution an issue. By doing so he also ended the ambiguity about his social and political priorities.
By referring to the white revolution, he was egging his audience to recall the white revolution-pink revolution divide he created during his election speeches last year.
This time he did not feel the need to mention the pink revolution. Being a master communicator, he knows how to give a clue and make people fill in the blanks themselves.
By invoking Yaduvanshis and their role in the white revolution, Modi is wooing Lalu’s Yadav votebank
The tactics worked. Reporters heard many of Modi’s young supporters chant frenzied slogans against cow slaughter and beef eaters. A few of the slogans directly targeted Muslims. He ‘ignored’ the Hindu enthusiasm of the youth or, to put it positively, allowed them to express their feelings.
Modi targeted Lalu’s Yadav support base by giving them a sublime name Yaduvanshi. By hinting, not so subtly, that supporters of beef-eaters cannot be their leaders, Modi was trying to divide Lalu’s Muslim-Yadav votebank.
This is covert communalisation of the election, something that would be impossible for the election commission to nail. It is communalisation under the surface. Does this count as hate speech or not?
The liberal well wishers of the prime minister need to understand that he has made his priorities very clear. When it comes to mobilising numbers, his language gets communally charged. They should understand his compulsions. But after sowing seeds of communalism, how does he expect us the believe that the harvest will be one of inclusive development?
His defenders would argue that it was a very insignificant part of his speech, which focused on the youth’s role in development. They would say that it was merely to add spice to the speech.
The speech has to be read along with the statements of leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi, who announced that the BJP will ban cow-slaughter in Bihar if it comes to power.
He warned the people of Bihar if Nitish Kumar is brought back to power, he would open slaughter houses in every district. Union Minister Giriraj Singh said that “Nitish is with gaumans (beef) and Jungle Raj”. A known rabble rouser, Giriraj didn’t stop there. Outrageously, he added, “Lalu says that (you should) throw meat in a Durga temple”.
Is anyone paying heed to the protestations of Nitish that a ban on cow slaughter is already in place in Bihar, that too since 1955?
Beef an old card for the Sangh
Cow or beef has traditionally been used by the RSS and its affiliates to attack the Congress and its leaders. In an interview to RK Karanjia, editor of the iconic newspaper Blitz, Jawaharlal Nehru spoke about the campaign against him by the Jan Sangh (now known as the BJP), during the 1957 elections.
The Jan Sangh had put up posters all over in Delhi showing Nehru with a sword driving cows towards the slaughter house. This strategy did not succeed back then. But the Sangh did not give up on it.
Now that the Ram Mandir cause doesn’t have too much traction and there hasn’t been a major terror attack for some time, the only tools to Hinduise diverse castes are protecting cows or the honour of daughters.
That is the reason why instead of showing regret after Dadri, the BJP chose to be brazen it out. It was not and is not a local issue. After Akhlaq’s murder, the entire campaign by the BJP has been addressed to the electorate of Bihar
Nothing but platitudes from the PM
Modi concluded his speech by asking people to follow President Pranab Mukherji’s appeal to maintain harmony and tolerance. He also asked people to not pay heed to hate mongers. He did not take Akhlaq’s name even once.
What he was offering was mere platitudes. It lacked substance or conviction. He neither condemned the murder nor the hate-mongers within his ranks. What’s more, Modi himself raised the communal temperature by invoking beef and cow.
The eager media rushed to claim that the prime minister has condemned the violence at Dadri. He knew that media would be only too keen to play the role of his apologist.
Now, it is for the people of Bihar to decide what counts as hate and which side they are on.
- CATCHNEWS, October, 2015
- Kafila, October, 2015