Gujarat Assembly elections | BJP evokes 2002 riots to gain vote favour

The then CM, Narendra Modi, and the BJP government ‘taught them a lesson’ and brought peace to the State, says Amit Shah in campaign speeches

Updated - November 26, 2022 10:27 am IST

Published - November 25, 2022 05:40 pm IST - Ahmedabad

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks during a public meeting at Jhalod in Gujarat’s Dahod district on November 25, 2022. Photo: Twitter/@AmitShah via PTI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaks during a public meeting at Jhalod in Gujarat’s Dahod district on November 25, 2022. Photo: Twitter/@AmitShah via PTI

As the voting for Gujarat elections draws nearer, the campaign is now veering towards the 2002 riots and how “they were taught a lesson” to achieve permanent peace in the State.

On Friday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in his campaign speeches in Mahudha in central Gujarat and Vagra in the south brought back the issue of the riots and said that as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, Narendra Modi had taught a lesson to “anti-social elements”.

“They tried to create a problem for [Prime Minister] Narendra Bhai [Modi] but he taught them such a lesson that they have not dared to do anything till 2022,” he said without specifying anything while addressing an election rally in Mahudha, a Congress bastion in Kheda district.

“But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence.”

He stressed that the BJP government “has established peace in Gujarat” as no riot has occurred anywhere after the 2002 riots. Over 1,000 people were killed across the State in the large-scale violence that had broken out after a mob had torched Sabarmati Express train near Godhara railway station, killing 59 Hindu pilgrims who were returning from Ayodhya.

He also blamed the Congress leaders, accusing them of supporting “anti-social elements who used to indulge in the violence during the past Congress regimes in 80s and 90s in the State”.

“During the Congress rule in Gujarat before 1995, communal riots were rampant,” the Home Minister claimed, adding that the Congress had “created its own vote bank using the riots which did injustice to the large section of society”.

In earlier campaign speeches as well, the Home Minister had targeted the Opposition party for the communal riots during its rule and how curfew used to be imposed frequently.

However, for the first time, he mentioned the 2002 riots and how the then CM “taught them a lesson” and “established peace permanently.”

It was the same message that was repeated in Vagra, Bharuch district seat with almost 50% minority voters. The Congress candidate is Suleiman Patel against the BJP’s incumbent legislator Arunsinh Rana, a powerful cooperative leader and Congress turncoat.

Communal tilt to campaign

As the campaign for the assembly elections has intensified, the ruling party leaders have often turned to speeches with heavy communal tilts bringing in the brutal murder of Shraddha Walkar by her companion Aftab to Rahul Gandhi’s new look resembling to late Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma warned the audience at a rally in Kutch that if there was no strong leader in the country, Aftab (Ameen Poonawala) would be born in every city and we would not be able to protect our society.

“Aftab brought Shraddha from Mumbai and cut her up into 35 pieces in the name of love jihad. And where did he keep the dead body? In the fridge. And while the body was in the fridge, he brought another woman home and started dating her,” Mr. Sarma said, adding that “we need a strong leader” batting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Subsequently, he compared the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s look with that of the late Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Recently, in a TV interview, I said about Rahul Gandhi’s new look. But if you have to change your looks, then at least make it like Vallabhbhai Patel or Jawaharlal Nehru. Even better if you look like Gandhiji, but why do you look more like Saddam Hussein now?” Mr. Sarma said as he addressed a campaign in Ahmedabad.

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