NEW DELHI: Describing polarisation in the hitherto-shunned vivid religious terms, Congress accused the ruling BJP of sowing seeds of divisions between Hindus and Muslims, calling it one of the big challenges facing the country under the Modi government. Listing the agenda for the Congress's three-day chintan shivir at Udaipur starting Friday, the party said communalism targeting minorities, especially Muslims, alongside economic downturn, inflation, joblessness and threat to sovereignty at the hands of China, are the burning issues, on which Congress will engage in deliberations at the brainstorming session. Congress said while debating and taking a political stance on the said subjects, Congress will use the Udaipur conclave to find ways to strengthen the organisation to ensure that it is in a better shape in future for a political struggle. “To hide the serious problems facing the country, Modi government is spreading religious fanaticism that targets religious minorities, especially Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. Every day a new Hindu-Muslim dispute is created to distract the country. BJP is searching for electoral victories by sowing the seeds of division between Hindus and Muslims. Elections are no longer fought on the plank of development, civic amenities, health, education, jobs, which have been replaced by bulldozer, loudspeaker, temple vs mosque, renaming of streets, and differences of food and dressing habits,” AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said. By naming the religious group instead of the generic “minority/majority”, Congress indicated it plans to up the pitch on cornering the BJP over communalism. The idea appears to be to nudge the political allies to shun the prevalent fear that it will benefit the BJP, while also setting the “secular” bar higher for anti-BJP rivals like AAP.
While focus on “governance deficit” under the BJP is bread and butter for Congress, insiders insisted that the articulation at Udaipur will be new that will convey the urgency on 8% joblessness, incessant inflation and fuel prices, and looming economic crisis. Congress strategists believe that focus on “failures” is the only way for the party to reposition itself with the citizens, even though the bigger challenge is the search for a solution that can make the party winnable again. One idea appears to be that “economic failures” and measures like “bulldozers” be defined in terms of the miseries heaped on the poor and lower middle classes. Surjewala asked why are BJP’s bulldozers set upon the “localities of poor and marginalized castes”, and not on the elite neighbourhoods infested with encroachments. Party strategists are hoping that deliberations will not end up being hackeneyed, but will send out a fresh message to people about the Congress.