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Does BJP’s beef ad betray its desperation to win Bihar polls?

New Delhi: Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s staunch critics would second him when he, during his whirlwind election rallies, aptly emphasizes that development ought to be the way forward for India and Hindus and Muslims, instead of fighting each other, should wage a war against poverty.

‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas (development for all)’ is the motto of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Well, who doesn’t want development?

But, alas, there seems to be a dichotomy between the thoughts and actions of the ruling party and the Prime Minister. For, while PM Modi talks of ‘vikas’ in Bihar to woo potential and existing voters, the BJP seeks to polarize the society along the lines of religion by placing full-page advertisements in leading newspapers featuring a girl hugging a cow and lashing out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his “silence” over statements made by his allies on beef just on the eve of the final phase of Bihar assembly polls.

This apparent attempt to polarize Bihar by the leading party to score political points over the Grand Alliance in an election that is being seen as a verdict on PM Modi’s 17 months in power reeks of nothing but the desperation to win the polls, by hook or by crook.

Beef has always been a sensitive issue for India’s Hindus and Jains because the Holy cow is revered as ‘mother’. But what is condemnable is to seek votes in its name by pitting one community against another, thus sowing the seeds of hatred among people who, more or less, have same issues.

I am a non-vegetarian Hindu and I have never had beef in my life nor do I intend to have it in the future. But that’s my choice. At the same time, it will be sheer hypocrisy on my part if I, despite being a non-vegetarian, condemned someone for having beef. What others eat and believe should be none of my concern in a democratic country like India.

But beef is no more about the religious aspect of the populace; rather it has quietly, with intended negativity, wandered into the cheap political theatrics.

Doesn’t polarization help when it comes to polls? Oh yes, it does. It surely does, in every single election. Can anyone deny that there was polarization in Gujarat following 2002 riots? Can anyone dispute the fact that incidents like Muzaffarnagar riots polarized people in Uttar Pradesh before Lok Sabha polls?

Bihar has a literacy rate of 63.82% and has long been considered among the ‘bimaru’ states. Verily, there is no dearth of issues that people of Bihar face be it unemployment, poverty, ignorance, lack of good roads, schools, and hospitals. And it was expected that just one day prior to the day of voting, the leading parties in the fray would talk about the real issues. But, it is a pity that the ruling party, rather than talking of the ways to deal with the abovementioned problems chose to spread hatred in the name of Holy cow and thus indulged in the politics of polarization.

Is this a ploy to influence an uneducated person’s uncultivated mind? An educated youth of Bihar, I am convinced is mature enough to make his choice but what of the former. Arousing his passions and love for the religion could just do the trick.

In the words of Karl Marx,

“Religion is the opium of the masses.”

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