Is BJP's 'mangalsutra' jibe an attempt to divide and win?

BJP's action reveals it's not as confident as it claims to be

I am blown by the amount of research the BJP’s speechwriters have put in. They have gone way back in time to dig out and wilfully misquote something Manmohan Singh said in 2006 at a meeting of the National Development Council (NDC), which is “Our collective priorities are clear. Agriculture, irrigation and water resources, health, education… along with programmes for the upliftment of SC/STs, other backward classes, minorities and women and children… We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development. They must have the first claim on resources...” 

It is interesting to note that after making this ‘deeply worrying’ statement, Singh still managed to get re-elected in 2009—clearly proving that a majority of voters were chill with what he had said. My guess is that the majority of voters are still chill with what he said.

And our worry is more to do with our missing ‘fruits of development’. Like, hello, where is our big fat fruit platter? And why isn’t Prime Minister Narendra Modi explaining why it is missing, instead of making hateful statements about how many children our Muslims are producing—when he surely must know, with all the reports he has to read, that Muslims are producing roughly the same amount of children as everybody else, and that India achieved replacement level fertility rates two whole years ago. I even wrote about it here, and wondered why we weren’t celebrating this achievement more. (Duh, because the ruling party likes to use this hoary, defunct bogey bear to whip up insecurity and division.)

Illustration: Deni Lal Illustration: Deni Lal

For those who demand specifics, fertility rates have declined drastically across all religious communities over the last two decades to land at 2.1. And the Muslim fertility rate, while still the highest in India, is only 2.36, and getting steadily lower every day. Also, it gets compensated (sadly) by the community’s neonatal mortality rate, which is also the highest in the country. 
So either our prime minister is not doing his homework, which is unlikely because he wakes up so early and works so hard, reminding me often of the endearing prime minister Hugh Grant played in Love Actually who lifts the 10 Downing Street phone to say, “I’m very busy and important.” Or he’s knowingly inciting the voters of Rajasthan by implying Muslim hordes, dressed in furs and riding on horseback, will swoop in to snatch mangalsutras from the necks of Hindu mothers and wives if they vote for the Congress—which is just plain silly—because there are 80 per cent Hindus in India and only 14 per cent Muslims, and it is much too hot to wear fur in Rajasthan. And anyway, if they had to do that they would’ve done it during the “60 years of Congress misrule” for heaven’s sake.

Our Election Commission, by coyly declining to comment on this flagrant hate-mongering, has proven it has a severely debilitating case of erectile dysfunction. By speeches such as this, and telling acts like turning the Doordarshan logo saffron, and arresting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal—the BJP has revealed that it is not as confident as it claims to be. Such insecurity, when the party is resurgent, flush with funds, and has all the state institutions in their firm control, is puzzling. 

Is the BJP, which always has its ear to the ground, actually worried that Ram phal is not considered a ‘fruit of development’ by most Indians? Is it because more people are saying hey, if we’re allowed to go back in time and pull out old speeches, where’s that plump 15 lakh ‘fruit’ Modi assured us was gonna drop into all our bank accounts? Maybe Muslims probably stole that, too. And used it to buy fur-coats and horses.