Bollywood must immediately find the identity of the BJP’s speechwriter.
It may finally discover an heir to the Salim-Javed legacy.
On Monday, while speaking at a rally in Kairana, BJP leader and India’s home minister Rajnath Singh thundered in his famed baritone: “Those using muscle power to terrorise people… hum dekhenge ki usne kitna mas ka doodh piya hai.”
Maa ka doodh, Bollywood has shown us, is the ultimate proof of courage; the elixir that separates real men from those brought up presumably on cow’s milk.
On the big screen, when Amitabh Bachchan bashed up baddies bred on dabbe ka doodh (Mard) and challenged goons who had partaken of maa ka doodh (Khoon Pasina) to come and face him, it evoked thunderous applause, inducing the audience to throw coins at the screen. One could almost imagine the taalis and seetis that rang out when Rajnath delivered those lines in Kairana.
When it comes to expressing a hero’s anger and machismo, it would rank just alongside Dharmendra’s biggest contribution to cinema: Ka****e, mein tera
doodh khoon pi jaoonga (Sholay).
Rajnath is obviously angry. Perhaps he is fuming just the way he was when told that Hafiz Saeed was behind the JNU ruckus last year. So, unable to control his emotions, he is dealing in screen-shattering dialogue. (At the same venue he claimed to have told Pakistan “seena thok ke” about its terror links.)
But, who are these people whose childhood dietary preferences he wants to check out? And why?
Kairana, it is evident, is the new Ayodhya or Muzaffarnagar for the BJP. With elections on the horizon, it wants to hardsell Kairana as a symbol of the imminent threat to Hindus by you-know-who.
In the BJP rule book of politics, polarisation is always the basic denominator in a poll equation. Having benefitted from Ayodhya, Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar, “Love Jihad”, beef ban and other emotive issues that polarise, the BJP always keeps looking with a fine-toothed comb for issues that could be turned into its new poll cry.
This election, it is trying to latch on to Kairana.
A few months ago, when BJP parliamentarian Hukum Singh released a list of Hindu families that had “migrated” from Kairana because of threat from Muslims, the BJP had pounced on the controversy like an eager child that has re-discovered its favourite toy. But, its enthusiasm was later dampened by reports that rebutted the claim. Several reports exposed the holes in Hukum’s theory.
It was established by several media organisations reporting from the ground that Kairana was battling a law and order problem. A war between gangs of local goons, unfortunately, was distorted by Hukum as an existential threat to Hindus. As Firstpost had argued then, it was yet another Malda moment — a mischievous misrepresentation of facts to raise the communal temperature of the state.
But, the BJP just can’t let Kairana go. It needs to continuously cry wolf to keep the electoral pot boiling. Why waste a good story for want of facts, no?
So, the BJP has entered the poll fray in Kairana with another Salim-Javed inspired slogan: Maa-behno ki aan mein, BJP maidan mein. Let's hope they don’t forget to put Nihalchand Meghwal’s picture on posters to convey its concern for ma-behen.
It is unfortunate that the BJP has to go back to communal dog whistles to win UP. With the current Mahabharata in the Mulayam Singh Yadav parivar, rising anti-incumbency, disarray in the Congress whose leader Rahul Gandhi is competing in dialogue-baazi with corny stuff like ‘khoon kidalali’ and the confusion among Mayawati’s supporters, the election should have been a cakewalk for the BJP.
Instead of going back to its regressive politics, the party could have worked on addressing the fault lines, healing the fragmented polity and society of the state and selling a development agenda for the state. But, its focus on emotive issues shows it lacks the courage to digress from its favourite formula.
Maybe, Rajnath is right. Perhaps it takes maa ka doodh to chart out a new path in a state as important as UP.