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BJP goes national against JNU 'anti-nationals'. Will the fire spread?

Panini Anand | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:42 IST
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The campaign

  • The BJP has decided to launch a three-day \'Jan Swabhimaan Abhiyaan\' across the country
  • It wants to counter and spread awareness about certain \'anti-national\' elements within JNU

The thought process

  • The JNU incident has divided public opinion into \'nationalist\' and \'anti-national\' camps
  • The BJP feels people are on its side, and wants to press home the advantage

More in the story

  • The political reason behind the campaign
  • BJP\'s strategy to counter the Opposition outcry on this issue

Even as JNU teachers and students stand firmly against the arrest of students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar and the witch-hunt in the university campus by the Delhi Police, the ruling BJP has decided to take the issue to all corners of the country.

The BJP has launched a 'Jan Swabhimaan Abhiyaan' (campaign for people's self-respect), which begins on Thursday, 18 February. The campaign will be taken to district, mandal and state levels by workers of the BJP and its sister organisations.

Read- #JNUCrackdown: politics of paranoia around sedition can singe Rajnath

The campaign aims to counter and spread awareness among the people against "some political forces in the prestigious JNU misusing the freedom of expression and misleading the country", the party's statement read.

A BJP leader told Catch: "We will organise signature campaigns, street plays, national songs and slogans, intellectual meets, dharnas, public meetings, memoranda to district collectors, swabhimaan chaupals and many more things to make people aware about the JNU incident. This will help people know the truth and decide what is right and wrong."

Pressing home the advantage

The slogan-chanting incident in the JNU campus has spiralled into a 'nationalist' versus 'anti-national' debate. Public opinion is heavily polarised, and it's clear that the BJP wants to press home the advantage.

Teachers protesting in JNU say this is the government's ploy to "bury the Rohith Vemula suicide issue and the failures of the government. The RSS is actively involved in this entire action, and it wants to create an atmosphere against opposition".

The BJP has launched a nationwide 'Jan Swabhimaan Abhiyaan' , which begins on 18 February

Opposition parties have united in expressing their discontent with the government on the issue. They have criticised the arrest of the JNUSU president and police action in the campus, and plan to raise the issue in Parliament when the budget session begins on 23 February.

The BJP desperately wants to counter this Opposition unity, and the other political setbacks it has received, like the Bihar election defeat and Rohith's suicide at Hyderabad Central University. And it thinks that the best way to do that is by dividing public opinion further on the issue of 'anti-nationals'.

Also read- You ensured our voices were heard in JNU: A Kashmiri writes to Umar Khalid

It's a simple strategy: kill two birds - JNU and the Opposition - with one stone. Reiterating that there are 'anti-national' elements in JNU will allow the party to keep its head up in public.

Five states are going to the polls in the next couple of months, and this could help the BJP gain.

'People are with us'

Party leaders believe public sentiment is in their favour. "Who says people are angry with the action? People are with us. The don't want to be on the anti-nationals' side. No one would stand with the kind of slogans shouted in the campus," a BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.

When the Opposition raises the issue in Parliament, the BJP plans to protest against these parties. It plans to ask Rahul Gandhi why he is supporting the 'anti-nationals' of JNU.

This counter-protest may also help the BJP divide the Opposition.

Could the fire spread?

These latest developments can damage things further. Politics over the issue is giving rise to more and more intolerant voices, and the situation is threatening to get out of hand.

The biggest concern is that even the BJP and right-wing organisations seem unable to control the hatred that is pouring out into the public domain, via social media and on the ground.

Read more: Everything you know about JNU politics is wrong

The repeated attacks on journalists at the Patiala House courts in Delhi are a case in point.

On Monday, some lawyers and BJP MLA OP Sharma attacked journalists at the courthouse, and the scene was repeated on Wednesday. Even Kanhaiya was attacked when he was brought to the court compound under police guard on Wednesday.

It's a simple strategy for political gain: kill two birds - JNU and the Opposition - with one stone

A BJP MLA from Rajasthan, Kailash Chaudhary, has reportedly said that Congress vice-president Rahul is 'anti-national' and should be shot dead.

With the BJP now taking the issue to other parts of the country, the fire could spread further, becoming more unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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RSS man hacked to death: is Kannur heading for another cycle of violence?

Modi government is more 'anti-national' than any JNU student. Here's proof

First published: 18 February 2016, 9:53 IST
 
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.

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