Election to save the constitution and democracy: How the opposition’s Brahmastra became PM Modi’s biggest electoral weapon

In the months leading up to the Lok Sabha elections, the biggest charge levelled by the opposition against the Narendra Modi government was that the Indian Constitution was in danger and that important institutions had been compromised. Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Mallikarjun Kharge and many opposition leaders told voters why they should vote for India Block to save the Constitution. But halfway through the seven-phase general election, PM Modi turned the tables by using the opposition’s weapon. He said that if they really want to save the Constitution, democracy and reservation, they should vote for the BJP. So let’s know how the Prime Minister turned the opposition’s Brahmastra around?

Muslim reservation prepared the base

In late April, a statement by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi came out in which he said that this is an election to save democracy, reservation, the Constitution and the rights of the poor. “Look, earlier Narendra Modi said ‘400 paar’ (400+ seats). Is he saying ‘400 paar’ now? Now he is not even talking about crossing 150. Statements are coming that ‘we are not against the Constitution, we are not against reservation, we are not against democracy.’ Why? Because they have come to know that the people of the country have understood the real thing. The people of the country have understood that these people want to uproot the Constitution and the rights of the poor. But, with this, the BJP has given rise to a controversy in Karnataka, which will form the basis of how the party will hit back at the opposition using its arguments in the coming days. The PM has brought back a new old controversy into the discussion about how Muslims in Karnataka are being given reservation against the ethos of the Constitution and those who deserve it are being looted. Around the same time that Gandhi was accusing the BJP of weakening the Constitution, Modi attacked at a rally in Telangana’s Medchal district, saying they (Congress) want to insult the Constitution for their vote bank. But I want to tell them that as long as I am alive, I will not let them give reservation meant for Dalits, SCs, STs and OBCs to Muslims in the name of religion. Interestingly, this was the same rally in which he expressed confidence that he would celebrate 75 years of the Constitution in a grand manner during his third term, thus reconstructing the counter-narrative on saving the Constitution.

Calcutta High Court’s decision to cancel OBC certificate

BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said that the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress are supporters of religion-based reservation. In fact the Samajwadi Party even demanded a constitutional amendment to give proportional reservation to Muslims. So this shows that they are the ones who are keen to change the reservation. Because the Muslim reservation is completely unconstitutional. An order from the Calcutta High Court came with two phases of polling left, leaving the Indian bloc completely uneasy. The order cancelled all certificates issued to several classes under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in West Bengal since 2010, terming them “invalid”. Interestingly, here too there was an aspect of appeasement which the BJP did not leave undiscovered and unused. West Bengal has 179 castes in the state list of OBC castes. According to Hansraj Ahir, chairman of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), 118 are from the Muslim community.

Mamata did not accept the decision, BJP made it a weapon

What helped the BJP escalate its outrage was the immediate reaction of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, where she said she would not accept the order. I respect the courts. But I do not accept the decision that says Muslims should be excluded from OBC reservation. OBC reservation will continue. If needed, we will go to the High Court, Banerjee declared. Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah immediately hit back, asking Mamata ji, “We do not accept the High Court’s decision. I want to ask the people of Bengal, can there be a Chief Minister who says we do not accept the court’s order?” The elections began with the opposition spreading fear that an absolute majority would help the BJP change the Constitution. By the end of May, PM Modi had created the same perception against the opposition.

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