Gandhinagar, Dec 6: Who says elections are about issues? No, definitely not!
Over the years, as the politics of communalism is gaining a strong ground across the country, elections have become all about Hindu and Muslim division. The more a political party can divide people on religious grounds, better are its chances to win elections.
In poll-bound Gujarat, issues have taken a backseat as both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are wooing voters in the name of religion and caste.
The two-phase state elections for the 182-seat Gujarat assembly will be held on December 9 and December 14. The counting of votes will take place on December 18.
Even the election posters, mostly circulated on social media, are a depiction of communal politics at play. If the BJP has come up with RAM versus HAJ posters, in reply to the saffron party's attack, the opposition parties are putting up posters about RAVAN and MAR.
If you are clueless about what these posters are all about, let's us explain them to you.
More than a month ahead of the Gujarat elections, the BJP came up with posters of RAM versus HAJ in November. While we all known Ram is the revered Hindu lord, Haj (or Hajj) is the annual pilgrimage done by the Muslims.
Thus when the Hindu right-wing party decides to circulate posters on RAM and HAJ on WhatsApp, it is clear it is asking the voters to vote on communal lines.
The RAM in the BJP poster stands for Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And, the HAJ is derived from the first letter of the names of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, all standing against the BJP in the upcoming elections.
According to reports, the RAM versus HAJ poster is the idea of the local wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the state. The posters are being circulated under the title--"Pasangi Tamari (Your Choice)".
If the BJP has RAM versus HAJ posters, then Congress and its allies have come up with RAVAN and MAR posters. The opponents of the BJP have replaced the word "RAM" with "RAVAN" and 'HAJ' with 'AJH' (Amari Jaan Hindustan--India, our life) in their own posters. The title of the poster is same as the earlier one--"Pasangi Tamari (Your Choice)".
The BJP's opponents' posters have photographs of Gujarat CM Rupani, BJP president Shah, Bhavnagar MLA Jitu Vaghani, former CM Anandiben Patel and Deputy CM Nitin Patel to connote "RAVAN", while "AJH" represents OBC leader Thakor, Dalit rights activist Mevani and Patidar quota agitation leader Patel.
In another set of posters by the BJP's rivals, PM Modi, Shah and CM Rupani are being abbreviated as "MAR (slap)". It has four different captions--Jahan Aam Aadmi Ko Mahengai Ki 'MAR', Ukhad Pheko Aisi Sarkar (where common people are slapped with price rise, throw out such government); Jahan Yuva Ko Padi Berozgari Ki 'MAR', Ukhad Phenko Aisi Sarkar (where youth are slapped with unemployment, throw out such government), Jahan Daliton Ko Padi 'MAR', Ukhad Phenko Aisi Sarkar (where Dalits are beaten up, throw out such government) and Jahan Patidar Ko Padi 'MAR', Ukhad Phenko Aisi Sarkar (where Patidars were attacked, throw out such government).
Recently, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram accused the BJP of playing communal politics for terming Gujarat leaders Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh as "HAJ" and said there was no reason why the youths of the state will not accept the Congress after Punjab.
"Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor, and Jignesh Mevani are sons of the soil of Gujarat. To call them HAJ is playing the communal card and divisive politics," he tweeted.
The former finance and home minister said large sections of the youth of Gujarat have rallied behind Patel, Thakor, and Mevani and they have rejected the BJP. "Youth of Punjab accepted the Congress. So did the youth of Goa and Manipur before the elections were stolen by the BJP. Why would the youth of Gujarat not accept the Congress?" he asked.
Speaking on poster war in Gujarat, Jignesh was quoted as saying by NewsClick, "We will counter their attempts of polarisation with progressive contents. We will ask them about unemployment, demonetisation, implementation of GST, farm crisis, children death in Uttar Pradesh, hunger index, farmers' suicide and rights of Dalits, OBC and Patidars. Simultaneously, we will set our agenda."