Jitters spoil PM appetite

J P Yadav New Delhi: 14 Apr 2018

The BJP drew immediate solace from the limited impact of an anti-reservation “Bharat Bandh” on Tuesday but remained concerned about the risk of the caste-centric quota issue taking centre-stage in the run-up to the general election next year.

As pockets of protest mushroom in regular intervals, the party is hoping against a replay of the early 1990s when the Mandal or pro-reservation wave had crushed the BJP’s popular ” kamandal“, the politics of the Ayodhya temple.

The BJP leadership fears a consolidation of Dalits and the backward classes if the upper castes hit the streets clamouring against reservation. Some pockets of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh did witness violence during the anti-reservation strike on Tuesday.

A measure of the party’s jitters and eagerness to dominate the protest platform was evident in the announcement on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself would hold a daylong fast on Thursday. The BJP said Modi would discharge his official duties while fasting.

Keeping him long-distance company will be Amit Shah, who will sit on a dharna in Karnataka.

Originally, the party’s MPs were to stage the fast in their constituencies to slam the Congress for stalling Parliament, but the decision to foreground Modi betrayed the sense of urgency.

Party insiders said that apart from highlighting the parliamentary disruption, the focus would be on telling the people that the Opposition was conspiring to plunge the country into caste violence by using the reservation card.

In an official statement, the BJP indirectly referred to a protest staged by Rahul Gandhi on Monday to highlight Dalit-related and other issues. “The Congress, accustomed to be in power continuously, is deliberately trying to build an atmosphere of fear and confusion in the country…,” the BJP said. ( The Telegraph )