Dangers of divisiveness: On the electoral rhetoric, from the top level

Pitting citizens of the North against southern parties is a hazardous ploy

Updated - May 18, 2024 07:17 am IST

Published - May 18, 2024 12:20 am IST

With polling over in 379 of the 543 constituencies after the fourth phase in the general election, the electoral campaigns of parties have reached closer to the end point. Deep into the campaign calendar, though, the disconnect between the concerns of the electorate and campaign rhetoric — especially that of BJP lynchpin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi — remains, unfortunately, intact. While job creation, inflation and development have been emphasised by voters as primary issues, Mr. Modi refuses to be driven by the idea of contesting mainly on his government’s record over 10 years of rule and focusing on measures to ameliorate the main concerns. Instead, he seeks to do what he has always revelled in — attacking the Opposition with truths, half-truths, and non sequiturs. Mr. Modi’s recourse to this is also helped by the shrill noise of television and social media being a useful tool to distract from concerns with the rhetoric that he has used, be it hate speech against Muslims or dog whistles to rev up support from Hindutva adherents. Other parties, including the Congress and its public face, Rahul Gandhi, are also — even if not to the same extent — guilty of raking up identity issues such as those related to caste politics. But Mr. Modi and some of his colleagues have taken vituperation as a campaigning device to new levels. In his rally in Jaunpur, he accused the Opposition in Uttar Pradesh, the SP and the Congress, of silence when their southern allies used “absurd and abusive language” for the people of U.P. and “sanatana dharma”.

Some of the northern parties in the INDIA bloc have publicly disagreed with DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin’s comments on “sanatana dharma” while emphasising their stances on social justice and taking on the issue of caste hierarchy. There is more that unites the politics of federalism and social justice espoused by these parties than what divides them — questions related to linguistic nationalism such as the need for English as a link language — but that is to be expected from coalitions made up of different political parties. Mr. Modi should focus on the differences in emphasis on how to tackle socio-economic issues between the BJP and the INDIA bloc. But, instead, his use of half-truths as a weapon to rile the Hindi heartland against southern parties is problematic, at a time when there is greater north-south economic integration, with working class citizens from the north migrating to the south for employment. Recently, the BJP inducted Manish Kashyap, a YouTube content creator who had been jailed in Tamil Nadu for spreading false news about Bihari migrants being attacked in the State. Such actions could foment divisive politics that does not help the Indian nation as a whole.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.