PM Modi's steadfast campaign: Sustaining opposition to Congress' 'appeasement' politics

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his "Rajas and Maharajas" remarks, saying that the "Shehzada" did not speak a word on atrocities committed by the "Nawabs, Sultans, Badshahs (Mughal Emperor) like Aurangzeb".

PM Modi's steadfast campaign: Sustaining opposition to Congress' 'appeasement' politics- True Scoop

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his "Rajas and Maharajas" remarks, saying that the "Shehzada" did not speak a word on atrocities committed by the "Nawabs, Sultans, Badshahs (Mughal Emperor) like Aurangzeb".

PM Modi also alleged that the Gandhi scion insulted Shivaji Maharaj and Rani Chennamma by ignoring their contribution with an 'intention to appease a certain vote bank'.

Significantly, PM Modi made these remarks while addressing an election rally in Congress-ruled Karnataka. The Prime Minister was at his oratorical best as he said that Banaras Hindu University (BHU) could not have been established without the help of the king who ruled the city in ancient times.

Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda helped Baba Saheb Ambedkar to pursue higher studies abroad, he added.

PM Modi's remarks, where he criticised Rahul Gandhi for not acknowledging the atrocities committed by certain historical figures, while also invoking the legacies of revered figures like Shivaji Maharaj and Rani Chennamma, carry significant political implications, especially in states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, with significant number of Lok Sabha seats of these states going to polls in the third phase on May 7.

Analysts believe that PM Modi's criticism of Rahul Gandhi's 'silence' on the atrocities committed by historical figures including Muslim rulers like Aurangzeb is a strategic move to undermine Rahul Gandhi's credibility and portray him as insensitive to historical injustices.

He used Rahul Gandhi's 'raja-maharaja' remarks to buttress his claims that Congress party often engages in appeasement particularly with regard to a community (Muslims).

The Congress party's decision to decline an invitation to the Ram Mandir inauguration ceremony and the grand old party's idea of "wealth redistribution to Muslims" were already highlighted by PM Modi as a form of action aimed at appeasing this minority community.

Moreover, by invoking the memory of victims of historical atrocities, PM Modi aims to resonate with voters who hold strong emotional ties to the victims' legacies.

This sentiment is particularly potent in regions where such atrocities have left a lasting impact on collective memory.

PM Modi's references to figures like Shivaji Maharaj, Rani Chennamma, and Baba Saheb Ambedkar and to the institution like BHU were carefully chosen to resonate with the cultural and historical fabric of specific regions.

Political analysts are of the view that in states like Maharashtra and Karnataka, where Shivaji Maharaj and Rani Chennamma respectively hold significant cultural and political significance, PM Modi's invocation of these figures is likely to strike a chord with voters and reinforce support for the BJP.

Needless to say, the sentiments around regional identity and pride are strong in these states, in view of which PM Modi's message is likely to appeal to voters who identify with the cultural heritage of figures like Shivaji Maharaj, say analysts.

Referring to atrocities of Sultans and Nawabs who ruled also over parts of present-day Andhra Pradesh, could influence voter sentiment in the state, PM Modi's remarks may resonate with voters in the southern state. At the same time, BHU holds significant pride for PM Modi's constituency Varanasi, and for the entire Uttar Pradesh as well.

Overall, the BHU's presence in Varanasi and its impact on the socio-economic and cultural landscape of Uttar Pradesh can indeed influence voter sentiment in the state.

PM Modi citing BHU during the rally speech assumes significance in this context.

It is also believed that PM Modi's invocation of historical figures and atrocities committed in the past is also part of a larger narrative around nationalism and national pride.

By emphasising the importance of acknowledging historical truths, PM Modi sought to position the BJP as the party that stands for justice and accountability.

According to some, PM Modi's statement reflects a strategic response aimed at rallying support around Indian icons and 'delegitimising' the Congress party's leadership.

What the PM has said also understandably highlights BJP's calculated approach aimed at both cornering Rahul Gandhi and continuing to spotlight the issue of Congress' alleged appeasement politics, a longstanding narrative in Indian politics.

Political observers believe that the Prime Minister sought to juxtapose Congress' purported appeasement of a particular community with the BJP's emphasis on a more inclusive development agenda.

This framing seeks to portray the BJP as a party that prioritises the interests of all citizens over narrow sectarian considerations.

Undoubtedly, PM Modi's characterisation of Rahul Gandhi's silence on historical figures like Aurangzeb, coupled with accusations of appeasement politics, is likely to shape the narrative surrounding the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

In fact, PM Modi's attack on Congress' appeasement politics has become a key feature of electoral discourse this time, shaping narratives around national security, identity politics, and development.

PM Modi has been portraying appeasement politics as something detrimental to the idea of a unified national identity, suggesting that it fosters division along religious lines and undermines the concept of a secular state.