On Wednesday, UP CM Yogi Adityanath and MP Anurag Thakur’s speeches in Amreli proved that the BJP is falling back on Hindutva and nationalism as its trump cards for the upcoming Gujarat election. Vikas is no longer the buzzword of the BJP.
Thakur’s address raked up issues such as the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the killing of ‘the Afzals of Kashmir’ and even ‘anti-nationalism’ in JNU.
And reminding his audience that it was 6 December, Adityanath boasted about how Hindus had displayed their might exactly 25 years ago. He was referring to the demolition of the Babri Masjid by Hindu karsevaks.
All this in a rally in the heart of Gujarat, with only a couple of days left before the first phase of voting.
And if that wasn’t enough drama for an election rally, a man disrupted Yogi Adityanath’s speech by repeatedly shouting “Jai Bhim!” and even throwing a bar of soap in the direction of the UP CM. Read on to find out all that transpired in possibly the most eventful rally of this campaign trail.
LIVE: MYogiAdityanath in Gujarat - UP CM addresses a rally in Amreli. 3 days to the polls - can the BJP retain Gujarat?Posted by The Quint on Wednesday, December 6, 2017
‘Mandir Wahi Banayenge'
The business end of the rally began with the arrival of Yogi Adityanath and Anurag Thakur. As the two leaders entered the venue, the song ‘Mandir wahi banayenge’ blared from the loudspeakers. It gave a sign of what was to follow – the Hindutva card was going to be neither hidden nor veiled.
Anurag Thakur spoke first, and spoke fiercely. “What date is it today? 6 December. Do you remember 6 December?”
The gathering of BJP supporters shouted back, “Yes!”
Thakur egged them on, “The wait has gone on too long. 25 years have passed. Should the wait end?”
The crowd cheered, “Haan!”
“What should be made?”
“Ram Mandir”, they bellowed.
“Kya?”, Thakur asked yet again.
The crowd got louder. “Ram Mandir” they chanted back.
Thakur was ready for the final punch. “Your wait will end, your dreams will be fulfilled, but Rahul Gandhi does not want it to happen. Even our Muslim brothers are coming forward to say that a temple should be built at the birthplace of Ram, but Rahul Gandhi...”
As Thakur trails off, some in the gathering shout, “Pappu!”
Thakur latches on, “You can call him that but I cannot give him so much respect.” The supporters laugh.
But he wasn’t done. Raising his pitch, and the Ram Mandir rhetoric, the Member of Parliament exhorted the crowd:
Anurag ThakurShould this wait of 25 years end? Will we unite and go there the next time? If the soil there calls out to you, will you go? Promise me, the people of Gujarat!
Thakur then turned to Yogi Adityanath and said, “Yeh taiyyari hai, Sir. This is the preparation.”
Yogi Boasts of Babri Demolition
If Anurag Thakur had set the Hindutva mood at the rally, Yogi Adityanath only took it further.
Yogi AdityanathIt is on this day (6 December) in 1992, that karsevaks showed the might of Hindu forces, something that had been kept suppressed for years. Today, we are working to end caste divide and dynasty politics in UP. The BJP is working to create a Ram Rajya in UP.
Adityanath went on, “Those who do not hold Lord Ram dear, they should be denounced, regardless of how much you like them. The parampara of India is the parampara of Lord Ram. Those who oppose him, they are of no use to us.”
'Rahul Gandhi Stood with the Anti-Nationals of JNU'
The Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi is around 1,200 kilometres away from the Forward Circle ground in Amreli, the site of the BJP rally. Yet, the ‘anti-national’ debate around JNU found its way to Anurag Thakur’s speech on Wednesday night.
BJP MP Anurag ThakurThe people who referred to Afzal – the man who attacked our Parliament – as Afzal Guru, the ones who referred to Yakub Memon and Afzal as “martyrs”, the ones who planned an event in JNU to celebrate these terrorists, and raised slogans of “Bharat ke tukde ho baar baar”, Rahul Gandhi went to JNU and supported those very people.
Thakur exhorted the crowd, “Will you stand with such a man?”
“No”, bellowed the supporters.
Thakur went on, “They say ‘Tum ek Afzal maaroge, hum ghar ghar se Afzal layenge (You will kill one Afzal, we will get more Afzals from every house).’ Here is my slogan in response to them. Tum jitne Afzal laaoge, hum utne Afzal maar girayenge (As many Afzals as you bring, that many Afzals will we kill).”
Yogi's Jibes at Rahul
UP CM Yogi Adityanath is not known for mincing his words, or blunting his jibes. And his speech at Amreli was strewn with potshots at the to-be-President of the Congress party.
Yogi AdityanathIt’s 9:30 pm right now, Rahul Gandhi must be asleep already. He’s not accustomed to working too hard anyway. There is a saying, “The more Rahul Gandhi works, the further he sinks the Congress.”
Later in his speech, Adityanath took a dig at Rahul’s Italian connection. “The Congress did no vikas when it was in power here. The only vikas they did was for the mafia. That is Rahul Gandhi’s heritage. The word ‘mafia’ comes from Italy after all!”
Adityanath added, “Did you spot Rahul Gandhi when the Godhra incident had taken place? No, you didn’t. Did you see him after the earthquake in 2001? You didn’t. Let it be, he must have been a kid then. But four months ago, when there was a flood in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi was the Congress Vice-President, right? Was he here anywhere? No.”
Yogi AdityanathBecause whenever Gujarat or even the country is in crisis, Rahul Gandhi is on a picnic in the US or vacationing with his grandmother in Italy.
When 'Jai Bhim' Disrupted Yogi's Speech
Bang in the middle of Yogi Adityanath’s speech, a man wearing a white shirt and a saffron scarf (quite the clever camouflage) emerged from the crowd and began shouting, “Jai Bhim!”
The disruptor then screamed, “Here’s some soap for you, Yogiji!” and threw what seemed to be a bar of soap in the direction of the stage where Adityanath was speaking. Within seconds, he was forcibly removed from the venue by the police.
In a few minutes, Adityanath seemingly responded to the disruptor, “It is 6 December today, a date important to us for many reasons. It is Babasaheb Ambedkar’s death anniversary as well. If anyone has worked to respect Ambedkar, it is the BJP and Modi. It is the Congress who insulted Ambedkar.”
Playing the Kashmir Card
While talking about nationalism and the BJP, Anurag Thakur played the Kashmir card as well. “We have killed more terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir in two years than the Congress could in twenty. We even entered Pakistan – Narendra Modi got such a surgical strike done that Pakistan couldn’t even fathom it.”
Will the voters of Amreli, and indeed Gujarat, vote on issues such as Kashmir, JNU and the dream of a Ram Mandir in faraway Ayodhya? Or will their votes reflect their opinions on vikas, or the lack of it, in Gujarat?
As the mother of all electoral cliches goes, ‘Only counting day will let us know.’
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