Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at a rally, in Midnapore district of West Bengal, July 16, 2018. Photograph: PTI 

Is Polarisation A Pet Theme In The Run-Up To 2019 Elections?

It started with a report in an Urdu daily Inquilab which, on July 11, quoted Congress President Rahul Gandhi as saying that his party belonged to the Muslim community. His party immediately refuted the story.

But by then, Gandhi alleged comments landed him in some controversy as a host of senior politicians from the Bharatiya Janata Party including Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress of minority appeasement.

In the course of the next 48 hours since the Inquilab report was published, Modi raked up the issue at public meeting in Azamgarh. “I read in the newspapers that naamdaar (entitled) said the Congress is a party of the Muslims. I am not surprised... When the previous prime minister was in charge , he said openly that the first use of natural resources should be with Muslims," newswire agency PTI quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a press conference, “You can't be Janeu-dhari (a Hindu who wears the sacred thread) at one point, Muslim-dhari at another. This is playing with the people's trust.”

Finally, Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted a clarification earlier today, emphasising that his party stands for the all those who belong to the weaker sections of society.

According to political analyst Amitabh Tewari, it’s inevitable that the Bharatiya Janata Party would have latched on to Gandhi’s alleged comments, especially in the run-up to the general elections next year. “All is fair in love, war and politics.”

Senior political journalist Vinod Sharma, however, points out that comments such as the ones made by defence minister and other top government officials can divide citizens on religious lines and is a violation of the Constitutional posts they hold. Even in an election season.

Watch the entire conversation here: