Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi building on ‘M’ factor, is low voter turnout in Phase 1 the reason? : The Tribune India

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Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi building on ‘M’ factor, is low voter turnout in Phase 1 the reason?

Attacking the Congress using the ‘M’—manifesto, ‘mangalsutra’, Muslims—factor

Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi building on ‘M’ factor, is low voter turnout in Phase 1 the reason?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI/File

Tribune Web Desk

Vibha Sharma

Chandigarh, April 23

Five days into the 2024 General Election and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attack against the Congress using the ‘M’ factor—‘mangalsutra’, Muslims and (Congress) manifesto—continues to escalate.

After his “Congress will redistribute people’s wealth among infiltrators and those with more kids” remarks in Rajasthan’s Banswara, PM Modi on Tuesday again reiterated the accusation. Not only did he accuse the Congress of hatching a “deep conspiracy” to “snatch people’s wealth” and distribute it among “select” (read Muslims), he also talked of how difficult it was to follow one's faith under the Congress rule.

He was referring to an allegation by a shopkeeper in Bengaluru, Karnataka, (where the Congress is in power) that he was assaulted for playing ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. 

“Even listening to ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ becomes a crime under Congress rule,” PM Modi said on the day the country is celebrating Hanuman Jayanti. 

Sharpening attack on the Congress using its election manifesto, PM Modi said: “I have put forth the truth before the country that the Congress is hatching a deep conspiracy to snatch your wealth and distribute it among the select people…It is written in their manifesto that they will survey the wealth. Their leader had said in a speech that X-ray of wealth will be done.”

Several Opposition parties have already complained to the Election Commission, demanding action against PM Modi over his reference to Muslims to attack the Congress.

The ‘M’ factor

There was a time in Indian politics when ‘M’ used to be a part of the sought-after ‘M-Y’ (Muslims and Yadav) formula used by leaders of the genre of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad to climb to power in the 1990s. 

However, since 2014, when the BJP came to power, the ‘M-Y’ is no longer the force it used to be with the BJP cutting through on the basis of religion. 

BJP’s detractors say labeling Muslim minority with words like “ghuspaithiye (infiltrators)” and stereotypes like “jinke zyada bachche hain (those with more children)” will make the Hindu-Muslim divide deeper. 

But it is an old strategy aimed at polarisation.

The reference to ‘mangalsutra’—a sign of married Hindu women—to apparently influence a significant half of (Hindu) community for whom the piece of jewelry has a great sentimental value, however, is a new addition.

“In an election many things are said...The PM/BJP have used the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks on marginalised, including minorities, having the first claim on resources and ‘urban Naxal’, etc, to push their political point… but ‘mangalsutra’ is a startling new addition.  

“In an interview to a news agency, he talked of the beauty of India’s diversity, speaking in Uttar Pradesh he, also, wooed Pasmanda Muslims by talking of his government’s initiatives like interventions on triple talaq, Haj quota, etc.

He has, on several occasions, said that his government’s welfare schemes are caste and community proof and do not discriminate between beneficiaries.

He has so much to say as he aims for a third term, people listen to him, which is why his sudden focus on 'mangalsutra', Congress’ manifesto and Muslim minorities,” wonder observers.

Is low voter turnout in phase 1, a reason? 

Whether the low voter turnout in Phase-I elections is also a reason for the doubling of ante against the Congress only time would tell, but the fact remains that fewer than expected voters turned out to cast their votes on April 19—the day 102 constituencies in 21 states and Union Territories voted in the country.

According to reports, the ECI is also “concerned” over dip in voter turnout in the first phase and considering “additional interventions and strategies for the remaining six phases”.

Plus often a trend or a wave that builds up in the first phase carries forward on in the next phases.

But things may change depending upon change in situation and new developments.

Though some experts say that extreme heat and regional demands may have contributed to the subdued voter enthusiasm, observers say the trend is “not good for democracy”.

Since it is believed to be a sign of anti-incumbency against the ruling party, a high-voter turnout is generally read as a positive sign for Opposition parties. Some political pundits also argue that anger against the ruling party encourages more voters to vote. However, the counter to this is that high-voter turnout could also be a reflection of people favouring the party in power and an expression of support in its favour.

As per analysts, there is no conclusive evidence either way, especially in a multi-party Westminster-style democracy like India where many factors work, especially now with PM Modi adding a brand new dimension to the General Election.

About The Author

The Tribune Web Desk brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune Wed Desk for not just breaking news stories but wide-ranging coverage of events.

#Congress #Narendra Modi

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