During his Dussehra speech in Lucknow when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chanted Jai Shri Ram two times at the top of his voice, it was a clear signal to the BJP activists that the party was determined to bring back its Hindutva agenda to the forefront ahead of next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Modi is a seasoned speaker and an experienced politician, who knows how to galvanise workers and there could not have been a more appropriate occasion than a maiden appearance by a Prime Minister at Lucknow celebrations to kick off the campaign. It was evident that Modi used the platform to send several messages. For most countrymen, it was meant to be his commitment to counter terrorism from across the border, but he used metaphors from the Ramayana to drive home the point. In the process, he connected himself with the party rank and file and the Hindutva driven audience, which assimilated the nuances of the speech and seemed assuaged that, after all, the BJP had not abandoned by afar its resolve to pursue the Ram Mandir agenda, even if it was not prominently showcased in the 2014 Parliamentary polls manifesto.
Modi’s visit to Lucknow had all the political trappings. He deliberately chose the state capital so that there would be undiluted focus on what he said. Every year, virtually all Prime Ministers till now as also other dignitaries like the President and Vice President have graced the Dussehra celebrations in Delhi. When so many top people gather, the spotlight is normally shared and naturally there would have been a repeat of this again this year. However, Modi took the unprecedented decision to go to Lucknow and thus his visit became the main talking point, even if he did not say much other than renewing his line of communication with the grassroots workers of the party.
The unique element of Modi’s speech was that it inadvertently or consciously overshadowed the Vijay Dashami address of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sarsanghchalak. Every year, Sangh Parivar activists eagerly wait for the RSS chief to deliver his annual speech, which lays down the overall guidelines for all the constituents.
This year too, Mohan Bhagwat made his customary speech in Nagpur. However, it was Modi who was the megastar, as his well calibrated oratory became the centrepiece of conversation including in the Sangh circles. There may be many who would say that the Sangh leaders worked with a perfect understanding with each other on major issues and thus it was improper to conclude that the Prime Minister had attempted to eclipse the RSS boss on the day which is normally reserved for the latter. Many stories have been doing the rounds in political circles regarding apparent differences between the two, but Modi’s speech and the manner in which he revived the Hindutva mantra must have pleased one and all.
Other than the Prime Minister resurrecting Lord Rama in the political quagmire of Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is slowly but surely returning to its primary agenda. It is not a mere coincidence that the triple talaq issue has come up and the Central government, under the guise of seeking equality and justice for women, has decided to work towards building a consensus on the need to have a Uniform Civil Code. The demand for Uniform Civil Code had been put on the back burner by the BJP in order to do business with its allies. Nevertheless, it was never omitted from the core agenda. There is definitive justification in pressing for a Uniform Civil Code on the ground that religious beliefs and practices should not override the rights bestowed on individuals by the Constitution. It is for the Apex Court to take a final decision on the matter, but the debate would lead to intense arguments by both sides. It would also be divisive and could lead to political polarisation on the eve of the UP elections.
Yet another issue which the BJP had put in cold-freeze for sometime was the abrogation of Article 370 in the strife ridden border state of Jammu and Kashmir. With the separatists hell bent on toeing the Pakistani line and no signs of an early return to normalcy, conditions in the valley have become a cause of constant concern. The tension on our borders has escalated following the attack by Pakistan trained terrorists in Uri last month. The subsequent retaliation in the form of surgical strikes by our extraordinary special forces have maximised the temperature on both sides and consequently a war like situation now exists. With vested interests preventing attempts to restore peace in the valley, there is a desperate cry in many quarters that the Centre must seriously consider the abolition of Article 370 to deal with the disastrous situation. In fact, the scrapping of the controversial Article seems to be the plausible solution to the complex realities of the state.
Thus several significant developments are taking place in the unfolding political scenario. Till now if the attention was on governance and development, it is gradually shifting towards the revival of the BJP’s basic agenda. It is simply a matter of time that the Hindutva issue would be back on the political centre stage. Between us.