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Rohit-JNU row: BJP gained on many fronts. Not in states

Panini Anand | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:49 IST
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Whose gain

  • BJP upped the ante in Parliament on JNU
  • Smriti Irani\'s speech was a hit with the middle class

More in the story

  • Will the party gain in the upcoming Assembly polls?
  • Will the Left and Cong benefit?

Moving from negative to zero is a gain - that's the gain that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Narendra Modi government have notched up in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) issue.

The divide created in the name of 'national' and 'anti-national' has helped them to leave behind issues that were bothering them for the past few months.

But that's about it. The BJP will not be able to leverage the issue in the Assembly elections due in five states.

Two Union Cabinet ministers, Arun Jaitley and Smriti Irani, referred to poll-bound West Bengal in speeches they made in Parliament. They tried to play the national-anti national polarisation and purposely attacked the entire Left ideology and Leftist political fronts.

It was an attempt to create an atmosphere against Left parties, which are strong in states such as Kerala and West Bengal.

Check out- In photos: how one scribe feels about JNU after living next to it for four years

Irani, the minister for human resource development, even attacked Sugata Bose of Trinamool Congress, asking whether he would support on the streets of Kolkata JNU students for whom Mahishasur is a deity and Durga a sex worker.

Finance Minister Jaitley said Rahul Gandhi's "rushing to JNU" was to pave the way for a possible alliance in West Bengal between Left Front and Congress.

These suggest that the BJP, which has gained the urban and middle-class support through the polarisation around the nationalism debate, wants to take it to the states now and get the benefit in the upcoming election.

However, the debates over the law-and-order situation in Delhi, Rohith Vemula's suicide and the JNU issue has not actually turned the tide for the BJP in West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Maya's dream

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati seems to have gained more than the BJP in the House. She succeeded in bringing more time and space for the issues by ensuring that the debate on Rohith's suicide was separated from the JNU case and Delhi's situation.

She halted the house on 24 February. The echoes of Mayawati's protest were heard clearly among her supporters and in Uttar Pradesh, where she will be a strong contender in next year's Assembly elections.

Mayawati was already preparing for the polls for the last few months silently, but now her voice is loud and clear.

Read- #JNURow: legal scholar Liang champions the right to be seditious

On the other hand, the Left and the Congress also don't seem to be gaining them. Leftist parties failed to use the opportunity to up their game.

Congress took the lead when Rahul Gandhi went to JNU. But its decisions and strategies on the Floor and outside has failed.

For the BJP

The BJP does stand to gain in some ways:

First, at a time of governance failures, it managed to bring back urban, middle-class support. Faces like Irani emerged stronger and many who were criticising the government are now sharing the videos of her speech.

Also read- Objectionable slogans and sedition are different things: Tewari on #JNUrow

Second, JNU took off some of the negative press the government had to face because of the JNU issue.

However, close observers believe these are the temporary gains whose effect will not last long.

Edited by Joyjeet Das

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First published: 29 February 2016, 4:27 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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