On Monday, the top three Congress leaders went to Muzaffarnagar for a ground survey and not an aerial one to meet the riot victims and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said all steps will be taken to bring the culprits to law. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi spoke to the with women over what led to the riots while vice-president Rahul Gandhi spoke to the youth and assured them of support.
The Congress and the prime minister in particular was criticised by the opposition for making a whirlwind tour before the elections. The BJP even mocked it as "secular tourism" after the infamous "disaster tourism" in the flood-hit Uttarakhand in June. State-based parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have also criticised the Congress leaders' tour, describing it as an election drama.
Modi is now focussing on a social coalition, while Cong is thinking what next
But who isn't doing a drama? The SP administration has not been able to punish the guilty till now. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was shown black flags when he visited Muzaffarnagar on Sunday. The BSP walked out of the state assembly on Tuesday showing itself as a 'true' opposition even while one of its MLA, Noor Salim Rana, asked how the SP government could arrest him if they were given permission to hold a rally. BJP workers blocked the arrest of the party MLA who was booked in connection with the riots. And now, the Congress top brass reaching out to the affected people.
The Congress has reasons to worry
The Congress has definite reasons to worry about. Uttar Pradesh, like Andhra Pradesh in the south, had served the party a great deal in capturing power in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. But this time, the situation is much different. The terrible loss in the state polls in 2012 and the end of the 'Rahul myth' there had already put the party in a spot of bother.
The VHP's plan to revive the Ayodhya movement and the SP's counter claim of stopping it convinced the Congress that it would be the biggest loser in the clash of the majority-minority vote-banks. Hence, the entire Congress leadership ran to the state, finding a nice opportunity to reassert its old image of the 'protector'.
Did PM Singh go to show that the Congress isn't faceless?
The presence of PM Singh was in a way to show that the Congress did not take the matter lightly for now with the arch-rival having a face to show, the latter can not remain faceless and headless. So the face, the head and the brain went together to put up a united show. But can this save the day for the Congress?
Muzaffarnagar riots have hit the 'secular' parties more than the 'communal'
The funny part is that the so-called 'secular' parties are seen facing the heat in Uttar Pradesh more than the 'communal' BJP. This is significant. If the secularists targetted Modi over the 2002 riots, they can also see now that he is aiming to unite each section of the society by holding distinct rallies. He addressed youths, students, farmers, ex-servicemen in each of the rallies till now, which shows he is trying to build a social coalition.
Modi is trying to build a social coalition, Congress is
thinking what to do next
But the Congress, which was once the party of social coalition and represented India's diversity, is clueless about which section to influence first. And this is the problem with all the so-called secular parties. They project themselves as representatives of all but do little actually. The gap between the expectation and the reality is going to benefit Modi more than anybody else. If Gujarat of 2002 has been the biggest challenge to Modi, Uttar Pradesh of 2013 could his biggest benefactor.
The game of manipulating the majority and minority votebanks has backlashed against the secular parties in Uttar Pradesh and the timing of the chaos coinciding with Modi's nomination as the PM and his positive campaigning could impact the next Lok Sabha polls in a big way. The game has been exposed before the bleeding souls of Muzaffarnagar.