DELHI ELECTION: BJP HOPES TO GAIN FROM CAA INSTILLED POLARISATION
News behind the News|NbN 03 February 2020
The anti-CAA protests took a violent turn as a 17-year-old teenager Thursday shot a Kashmiri protester near Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi.

He shouted slogans “If you want to stay in the country, you have to say Vande Mataram”. As he was being taken away by police, he identified himself as “Ram bhakt” (Ram devotee). Analysts link the incident to not only the CAA protests but also to the February 8 Delhi elections.

With the campaign for Delhi Assembly elections getting dirtier, the Election Commission (EC) earlier came down strongly on BJP MP and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur for playing the rabble-rouser (by leading crowds to chant ‘Shoot the... traitors!’) and on fellow MP Parvesh Verma by banning them from campaigning for a few days. The elections scheduled for 8 February. Verma had said at an election rally in the Capital that the Shaheen Bagh (a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in Delhi against the new citizenship law) protest site would be cleared in an hour on February 11 if the BJP comes to power. He warned the people, writes The Tribune “that anti-CAA protesters in lakhs would enter their homes to rape and kill women.” Earlier, the EC had banned party candidate Kapil Mishra from campaigning for 48 hours for his provocative ‘India vs Pakistan’ tweet.

The Asian Age points out that these statements are “coming on the back of morale-sapping setbacks in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Haryana, and with the polls in Bihar, a key Hindi heartland state, months away. Thus, all rules of the game are being bent.”

The paper says the “context too must be kept in view. This Assembly election in Delhi is being fought within weeks of the CAA’s passage. Besides, the nation’s capital is in the throes of anti-CAA protests, with Shaheen Bagh as the centrepiece.”

Analysts suggest BJP’s aggressive statements specifically on the continuing sit-in at Shaheen Bagh reflects its increasing confidence that it will be able to consolidate Hindu votes in its favour in the run-up to the February 8 Delhi polls. BJP general secretary and member of the election committee for Delhi polls, Anil Jainargue argues that if it is right for the ruling AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) to consolidate Muslim votes prior to the Delhi elections, there is nothing wrong in BJP trying to consolidate Hindu votes.

Last Monday, at a press conference at the BJP headquarters, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that the Shaheen Bagh protest is emerging as “a textbook case of a few hundred people trying to suppress the silent majority…..This protest is not just a protest against CAA, it is a protest against Modi.”

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