Amidst rising political temperatures in Gujarat, the ruling party’s stalwarts are going beyond the Gujarat development narrative to target the opposition Congress.
For Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the brutal killing of Shraddha Walkar allegedly by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawalla in south Delhi is the theme of his campaigning in poll-bound Gujarat. He claimed that the horrific murder was a case of “love jihad” and warned that there would be Aftabs in every city if there was not a strong leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Recently, one Aftab brought Shraddha from Mumbai and cut her into 35 pieces in the name of love jihad. And after that, where did he put her body? In the fridge. When the body was in the fridge, he brought another girl and started dating her,” Mr. Sarma claimed while addressing a rally in Gujarat’s Kutch region. “If the country does not get a powerful leader and a government that respects the country as a mother, such Aftabs will be born in every city, and we would not be able to protect our society. That is why the country should elect Modiji for the third time in 2024 and he will be able to solve such issues,” Mr. Sarma said.
In a speech full of vitriolic barbs, the Chief Minister of Assam exhorted the people of Gujarat to once again elect the BJP government and slammed the Congress for “appeasement” of Muslims.
Besides him, a number of other leaders also raised the killing of Shraddha Walkar and how “love jihad” is allegedly emerging as a menace across the country.
In his speeches at different places in South Gujarat and Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath asked people to “immerse the Congress into the Narmada river” and claimed that the opposition party always preferred “terrorism to nationalism.” He added that it would never have been possible to remove Article 370, build a grand temple in Ayodhya or abolish triple talaq under a Congress regime.
For the ruling party’s leaders—from the national President J.P. Nadda to the state chief C.R. Paatil—the presence of the anti-Narmada movement activist and leader Medha Patkar in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra could not have come at more opportune time.
On Saturday, Mr. Nadda termed the Congress as “anti-Gujarat” after the Narmada Bachao Andolan activist joined Mr. Gandhi’s foot march in Maharashtra. Campaigning in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, Mr. Nadda called Ms. Patkar “anti-Narmada, anti-Gujarat and anti-Saurashtra”, one who tried to stall the construction of the Narmada dam and opposed the use of water for the people of Saurashtra. “If such people join Rahul Gandhi, it reflects his mentality,” he told media persons.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel also tweeted, “Congress and Rahul Gandhi have time and again shown their animosity towards Gujarat and Gujaratis. By giving Medha Patkar a central place in his Yatra, Rahul Gandhi shows that he stands with those elements who denied water to Gujaratis for decades. Gujarat will not tolerate this”.
The Chief Minister and state BJP head Mr. Paatil have repeatedly targeted the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for association with “urban naxals” like Ms. Patkar, who they claim have worked against the interests of the State by opposing the Narmada project.