It was good to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally speak his mind on the on-going Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest in Delhi . No sophistry of words , no waffling . Without indulging in any word play, Modi plunged straight into core issue of the protest—the immense inconvenience that Shaheen Bagh protest was causing to Delhi citizenry .In what must have come as a huge shock to protesters, Modi minced no words and proceeded to dub the nearly 50- day protest as a political ploy of AAP and the Congress. He was speaking at an election rally in East Delhi, his first for Delhi Assembly polls.
In attacking the Shaheen Bagh protest itself, the PM explained why the Centre had not opened any dialogue with the protesters. “If it was a protest just to oppose the CAA, it would have ended after all the assurances given by my Government . It is much more .” His words also seemed to be aimed at reaching out troubled commuters who suffer a torturous long commute between Faridabad to Delhi/ Nodia because of Shaheen Bagh blockade.
Making a two pronged attack on the on-going anti-CAA protest since December 15, Modi pointed out that the protesters cannot possibly claim to fight to protect the Constitution when they do not even respect Supreme Court rulings made from time to time that has restrained protesters from causing pubic inconvenience . Two, he argued that political façade of the protest was all too obvious as the three hotspots of CAA protests in Delhi—Seelampur , Jamia and Shaheen- had very clear political stamp written all over it
“Kya yeh sanjog hai ? Na ek prayog hai“ ( Was it a coincidence ? No it was an experiment, a strategy), PM Modi’s powerful poser referring to use of the Constitution and national flag as props “to distract us from their real agenda” of “ breaking nation , weakening the country” . Modi’s remark is significant as it is coming in back of a purported video clip of a speech of anti-CAA protest organiser in Aligarh that counselled protesters that use of secular symbols in the campaign was only a temporary phase aimed to tap wider involvement .
To the BJP in Delhi, PM’s Karkardooma speech was the much needed booster shot that had ended scope for any ambivalence on CAA . It had come in the last week ahead of the February 8 voting . PM Modi listed giving citizenship to specific communities from neighbouring countries as one of the achievements of his Government . His speech today cleared the confusion created by a tweet of Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad.
Over weekend Prasad made offer via twitter to have dialogue with Shaheen Bagh protesters. The tweet set AAP and Congress leaders to even believe the Government had begun to soft-pedal CAA—in fact a Delhi Congress leader went on to say BJP was going soft on CAA as it is not going down well with a large section of people. However , with Modi’s speech today it is now clear CAA has made a strong come back on BJP campaign book.
Post Modi rally there is sense of an assured confidence in the BJP that it is now more just “in the reckoning” in Delhi assembly polls . “ We will be the winners , “ assures a senior party leader . And the source of this confidence of course is not just one Modi rally but the overall effort and energy pumped in by one single person — Home Minister Amit Shah. The manner in which he has got 56 Union Ministers and senior leaders involved in the campaign is amazing. “Even as Union Home Minister , Shah has done door to door campaign. “ says a source.
Learning from defeat in Jharkhand and losing out on forming government in Maharashtra, the BJP top leadership has begun working overtime on coalition ties. Campaigning for two seats in Delhi that he got as a pre-poll ally , Bihar CM Nitish Kumar lavished so much praise on new NDA equation that he even remarked it was feeling like Vajpayee era days. On his part , Modi returned the favour by referring to Kumar in his first speech for Delhi polls. Mutual admiration pays.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.