A few days ago, the BJP’s potential chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Manoj Tiwari, offered “five times” of everything that Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP government has given to the capital city: subsidised electricity, subsidised water, subsidised healthcare.… Tiwari’s mathematics came to absurd numbers and the BJP quickly trashed his promise to voters as his personal opinion. Instead, Union home minister Amit Shah put the electricity to another use. “Press the (EVM) button with such rage that the current is felt in Shaheen Bagh,” Shah thundered at a poll rally. Another BJP leader, Union minister Anurag Thakur, went a step further, asking voters “What should be done to the traitors…” A boisterous crowd replied, “Shoot them, shoot them”. It was not lost on anybody that the “traitors” are the anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh, which has emerged as the flashpoint of the resistance against the new citizenship law.
Delhi will vote to elect a new government in a few weeks from now. By all accounts this should have been just another state election when ‘local issues’ are the dominant themes—clean water, affordable housing, good schools etc. But Dilli is not just another election. Not at least for the all-conquering BJP. The kid gloves are off. And the long knives are out. Nationalism and patriotism are the twin-planks on which BJP is building its campaign, identifying “traitors” and those who speak the language of Pakistan. Shah is hoping the people of Delhi will back the nationalist party INStead of what he refers to as the “tukde tukde gang”, a slur on anyone whom the BJP identifies as enemies of the state.