Hitting the right note, some say, is extremely crucial during election campaign rallies. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have just done that in poll-bound Punjab's Jalandhar on Friday. Addressing a gathering, Modi's prescription for the return of Akali Dal-BJP combine to power in Punjab was to play on the Punjabi sub-nationalism.
The prime minister began his speech by talking about Indian Army's deep connect with the state of Punjab, the state's importance as the grain bowl of the country and talked at length of its perceived "aan-baan and shaan".
Modi used the Punjab's latent sub-nationalism and its honour to launch a blistering attack against his political rivals, Congress in particular, which is posing a tough challenge to the ruling Akali-BJP combine in the state. He gave reference of the Indian army and contribution of officers and jawans from Punjab which rouses emotions and passions of the electorate. Surgical strikes by the Army in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, across Line of Control and grant of OROP came as nationalist themes, with which he thought people of the state would naturally associate.
For Modi that "aan, baan and shaan" was under attack by leaders from rival political parties due to selfish reasons. Prime Minister's words were important for he arrived in Jalandhar two hours after Rahul Gandhi had finished his speech at a rally in Majithia in Punjab where the Congress vice president had made a scathing criticism of the ruling Badal family, accused them of corruption of all kinds and alleged that 70 percent of Punjab youths was addicted to drugs.
While Modi didn't name Rahul Gandhi or Arvind Kejriwal, he sought to turn the tables quite dexterously. He hailed the youth of Punjab who have served in the Army with selfless dedication and discipline and then added saying that now Punjab and its youth were being defamed by Congress and others — Punjab ke youth ke liye jane kaise kaise shabd ka prayog kar rahe hain, duniya me ja ja kar Punjab ke youth ko badnaam kar rahe hain.
Congress and the AAP have the drug issue in Punjab at the top of their poll-issues. Modi did not name AAP even once. Probably, the prime minister did not want to concede that AAP was even a contender to his alliance in Punjab. Modi urged the crowd to use the EVM machine to punish those who had been defaming the state's honour.
Modi realises that this is easier said than done. Congress after facing a massive drubbing in all major elections since later half of 2013, sees a chance to gain power in Punjab, halt its unending downslide and have something to cheer about. Congress' chief ministerial candidate Amarinder Singh has emerged as a real challenger to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Modi used emotive sub-nationalism than substantive arguments to counter the drug charges levelled by Rahul and others. Even during worst phases of terrorism in Punjab, no one defamed and condemned Punjab but same Punjab was put in dock today. "Congress ka rang kya hai, roop kya hai, raah kya hai... pata hi nahi chal raha hai kuch. Ye satta ke bina aise chattpata rahe hain jaise paani ke bin machli chatpata rahi ho. Congress ek beeti hui baat hai, aakhri saans pe apna guzaara karne wala dal hai. Jo naav doob chuki hai, jiss naav me kuch bacha nahi hai, kya Punjab ke log aesi naav mein kadam rakhne ka sochenge? (It's hard to understand what the Congress stands for, what it wants. It has become so desperate that it is doing everything possible. Without the powers, Congress is restless and frustrating. Congress is a story that was, and a party that is dragging on its last breath. Will Punjab step on a boat which is sinking?)"
Modi devoted substantive part of his speech talking about how Congress leaders were looking for any alliance that is available, howsoever unnatural that may be to keep itself floating — alliance with Left in West Bengal and with Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. His attempt to portray Congress as a party whose politics was negative as against his brand of development politics — Vinaash ki rajneeti 70 saal tak desh ne dekhi hai, karni hai toh vikaas ki rajneeti karo (The country has witnessed politics of destruction for 70 years, let's now practice politics of development.)"
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Updated Date: Jan 27, 2017 19:59:57 IST