On April 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Maharashtra’s Wardha once again playing the ‘Hindu card’ by raking up ‘Hindu sentiments’ which is being seeing by many political analysts as a shift from the development agenda.
A detailed analysis of Modi’s speech clearly shows a shift of focus from issues of farmer’s plight to ‘Hindu pride’.
In his trademark style of engaging the public by throwing questions at his audience, Modi asked: “Can a Hindu be a terrorist?”
He then added, “The Congress and NCP [Nationalist Congress Party] can go to any length to play vote bank politics. Congress had put a blot on crores of people of this country by using the word, Hindu terrorism.”
In the speech that lasted around 32 minutes, Modi spent around six minutes talking about Hindu sentiments. Without taking any names, Modi targeted Rahul Gandhi for choosing to contest elections from a constituency (Wayanad in Kerala) where Hindus are in minority in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
He was unsparing in his attacks on the Congree-NCP alliance which he called Kumbhakarna. “Like Kumbhakarna they used to sleep for six months and for the rest of the six months, they used to spend doing corruption.”
Modi spent about eight minutes in his attacks on the opposition, especially Congress.
कांग्रेस के नेता कान खोलकर सुन लें – हिन्दू कभी आतंकवादी नहीं हो सकता।हिन्दू आतंकवाद का झूठ फैलाने का पाप कांग्रेस ने किया है और अब इतना डर लगने लगा है कि सीट बदलनी पड़ी है….यह डर अच्छा है।कांग्रेस की पराजय पक्की है। pic.twitter.com/8zAa2SNtiP— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 1, 2019
Modi spent another five minutes attacking Maratha strongman and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
Topics such as terrorism, the Indian Airf Force air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot and nationalism took 3.5minutes of his speech. In those 3.5 minutes too, Modi did not leave any opportunity to link Pakistan and the opposition parties.
“People are saluting our soldiers but some people are asking for proof. These people are liked by people in Pakistan,” the Prime Minister said.
Surprisingly, he spoke very little about the achievements of his government and the agrarian crisis, which is a core issue in places like Vidarbha where Wardha is located.
This is surprising considering the data revealed in response to Right to Information (RTI) queries saying that in the last five years, Maharashtra has seen over 14,000 farmers commit suicides.
Modi spent only three and half minutes speaking about farmers and how his government has increased the minimum support price 1.5 times and various schemes introduced by the government for drought relief and betterment of farmers.
Even though Modi started his speech talking about the latest achievement, the ASAT test, spending about two minutes on the topic, the tone of the speech was very clearly suggested it wanted to create a narrative around Hindu sentiments.
Narendra Modi in Wardha came down heavily on Rahul Gandhi for contesting from Wayanad in Kerala. (Source: India Today)
The election speech this year in Wardha is in complete contrast with the speech delivered on March 20, 2014, at the same place where again he spoke for 32 minutes but spent 18 minutes on farmer issues and how the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government failed to address those issues.
In his 2014 speech, Modi said: “We don’t do politics on suicides but the ban on cotton export had caused losses to the farmers.”
Modi had even made promises of making the life of farmers better in these 18 minutes. Giving examples from Gujarat, Modi had said that if he comes to power he will solve the irrigation issues and will also support the farmers with technology and provide loans at lower interest rates.
In 2014, Modi had reportedly made specific remarks about farmer suicide numbers saying, “Farmer suicides numbers are higher than those of soldiers dying at the border due to terror attacks.” Modi had spoken about issues of soldiers and terrorism but had spent only two and half minutes, mostly sticking to the issues of one rank, one pension (OROP) and jawans being killed due to terrorism.
Even then he had clearly targeted the Congress and NCP. He had spent around 10 minutes on that but his attack on the Congress-NCP combine was mostly around corruption.
He had ended his speech by calling for a Congress-mukt Bharat.