Polls and polarisation politics

The Opposition parties have to press ahead with political adjustments to counter the dominant narrative
The political discourse, as Assembly elections approach, is slipping to new lows. Addressing a rally in Madhya Pradesh recently, the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Amit Shah, once again described infiltrators as “termites”. Earlier, speaking at a rally in Rajasthan, he said that he was confident that the BJP would win every election despite incidents of mob lynching, naming Mohammed Akhlaq. At the party’s national executive meeting last month, he had declared that if the BJP comes to power in 2019, it would stay put in office for another 50 years. The ‘ chun-chun ke nikalenge ’ threat to the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants becomes clearer when viewed together with the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016. This Bill would permit Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to be eligible for Indian citizenship, but not Muslims, and if passed would violate Article 14 guaranteeing equality before law. Through this, the BJP is aiming to polarise Indians to convince them that what is rightfully theirs is being snatched away by ‘outsiders’. Hence, Mr. Shah is bringing up the issue in rally after rally to target minorities. At a public meeting in Kolkata, on August 11, he asked: “Are the Bangladeshi infiltrators a security threat to this country or not?” The polarisation strategy is an attempt to remove political plurality and in a sense pave the way for a one party, one leader-centric system which will weaken the foundations of our vibrant democracy. The job of the Opposition parties, in particular the Congress, in these circumstances is cut out: it has to press ahead with political adjustments to counter communal polarisation. Besides bringing together disparate parties, the Opposition must build a narrative that can hold some political interest for voters. The ideological thrust of this counter-narrative has to focus on safeguarding fundamental constitutional principles which have become points of contention and contestation, for example, nationalism, secularism and social justice. The Left has to play a leading role in building this narrative and any hesitation on its part will be damaging to both itself and to the country.
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/polls-and-polarisation-politics/article25185539.ece

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