Campaign speeches take flights of magical realism

Amit Shah rally in West Bengal

Image credit X @BJP4India

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Modi, Rahul raise political temperature with polarising claims

Manish Anand

New Delhi, May 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former president of the Congress Rahul Gandhi with their speeches are testing the patience and also the might of the Election Commission. Political rivals are accusing each other of distortions and distractions.

A total of 49 Lok Sabha seats will go to the poll on May 20 in the fifth phase of polling. The seven-phase Lok Sabha elections have turned out to be bitterly contested so far. The political pundits are not yet sticking out their necks.

The Congress manifesto remains the pivot for the Lok Sabha elections. Modi continues to focus on the Congress manifesto. His refrain that the Congress will snatch the Constitutional rights of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and the other backward castes remains the top punchline in the speeches.

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Gandhi remains steadfast on his new-found love for the Caste Census. His pitch for the proportionate representation of the cross-sections of the society is only sharpening.

External Affairs Minister Subhramanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday led a delegation of the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the Election Commission. “A few days ago, Rahul Gandhi alleged that PM Narendra Modi has created two categories of soldiers: one comprising Dalit, Tribal, and minority sons, and the other consisting of rich family’s sons. Such statements directly undermine our armed forces and are aimed at creating controversy and lowering morale. This is not merely an election issue but a matter of national security,” Jaishankar told reporters.

The Congress communication department head, Jairam Ramesh, has accused the prime minister of distortion. “Modi is saying that we will take away reservation of the backward castes, and give that to the Muslims. Show me a word in the Congress manifesto which gives any substance to the insinuation of the prime minister,” Ramesh told reporters in Ranchi on Wednesday.

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Modi in his Kalyan rally in Maharashtra on Wednesday once more alleged that the Congress would give away the benefits of the backward castes to the “15 per cent population”. The prime minister a day before had asserted that he would be unworthy of public life if he indulged in Hindu-Muslim politics.

The Election Commission is already facing the heat from the critics for not sharing the data of the Assembly constituency wise of the voters. There is a lag in reporting the actual voters’ turnouts. The press bodies have also shot off letters to the EC to demand transparency in the voters’ data.

Discretion in speeches by political leaders appears to have vanished in the thin hot air amid fierce electioneering. There are reports that the Muslims unlike the 2019 elections have been sharply polarised in several of the states against the BJP.

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Some of the Muslims had reportedly voted for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections for benefiting from the welfare schemes. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also as per ground reports is not cutting into the Muslim vote base.

Polarisation of the Hindu vote base in favour of the BJP is missing as per ground reports. The revival of the identity politics is cutting into the Hindutva card of the BJP.

The fact checks on the merits of the claims of the key political actors appear to suggest that the Lok Sabha elections have entered into the realm of magical realism. Issues are invented and created with repeated assertions to raise the political temperature amid the dreary response of the voters.

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