The recent inauguration of phase 1 of Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has evoked strong reactions from opposition parties because the event was telecast live across the country and at thousands of places across Uttar Pradesh. In his official capacity, Prime Minister traveled to Kashi, performed a puja and several other religious ceremonies, including a dip in the Ganga. This was telecast live on state-owned Doordarshan, as well as shared on all platforms by social media platforms of the government.
The Opposition has described the opening of the corridor as part of a pre-poll strategy that the BJP adopts before every election which often includes the inauguration of developmental projects. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said that they (PM Modi & other BJP leaders) should stay there for not only one, two or three months and added that people spend their last moments in Banaras.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP chief Mayawati said that inaugurations of half-finished projects are not going to help the BJP. The Congress too slammed the BJP accusing it of cashing on religious sentiments. Does this violate the secular nature of the Indian state? A national debate has started on it.
Anju Grover spoke to Samajwadi Party spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari to know his party’s views on the political implications of the development on Indian politics.
Q: How do you look at the inauguration of Kashi corridor by the Prime Minister and its media coverage?
A: PM is visible on television only. BJP may be strong in doing propaganda but it has a shallow agenda. It was a tamasha led by Prime Minister Modi and supported by UP CM Yogi Adityanath for two days.
Q: What about the mega coverage of PM’s Kashi visit?
A: In BJP’s belief, India is not a secular state and it has never indicated so. From PM to top BJP leaders, all of them have made a mockery of the idea of secularism by lampooning those who speak about secularism. When BJP came to power, it had adopted false slogans like Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas. The BJP’s agenda is clear. In Adityanath’s Cabinet, 45 percent members have criminal charges against them. BJP leaders are not rising for providing good governance but (they work) on the basis of sloganeering, hate speeches and creating vigilante groups that put common people in danger. The BJP, which is in the most powerful form today, is turning the entire state into a one-sided ideology.
Q: Has the Kashi corridor given a political edge to the BJP?
A: The BJP may believe that it has an edge over other parties but that’s not true. People of Uttar Pradesh can see that with so much power, this government has not been speaking about unemployment or price rise. A Central Minister who is circumstantially accused in a conspiracy to mow down farmers has still not been sacked by the Prime Minister. People know that the mission of this government is not harmony and it engineers hate in the society. The government has failed to fulfil all promises. I believe people have an edge and not the propaganda of the BJP. The public support for leader Akhilesh Yadav at rallies is an indication of BJP losing the ground.
Q: But our Constitution supports secularism. Your comments.
A: India has a powerful civilization. I don’t think India’s secular fabric is under threat. This is a government which believes in bending fundamental values but people will prove them wrong. Leaders following one set of ideology cannot break secular fabric.
Q: Your views on BJP using religion as a card to win polls?
A: The BJP has perfected the art of politics which is built around tamasha and politics of fear. It has won elections. People have given them power but it has failed to fulfil all its promises. However, this election will be a turning point.
Q: How do you look at the BJP as a party?
A: Under BJP’s model of nationalism or Hinduism, the party will always point fingers at others and question their nationalism and patriotism. BJP may accuse other parties of doing something, but it is playing politics driven by its ideology. The ideology cannot sustain itself as it is bereft of any governance model, agenda of providing prosperity and peace, employment and provide better opportunities. How can BJP claim to be patriotic? The party has pushed the poor into a corner in the last few years. The party has also pushed the country into worst sphere of inequality, unemployment and disharmony.
Q: How will the divided Opposition take on BJP in the upcoming polls in UP?
A: It is good that India is not a two-party system. We are a society where anyone whose community has not got due representation can enter the political arena easily. BJP contests to win elections while the Opposition parties contest to serve people. Winning elections cannot sustain for a long time. As far as Samajwadi Party is concerned, it is going for rainbow alliances with smaller parties to cover every section of the society so that it can take on BJP in 2022 UP polls.