2014 election campaign

This election is a fight for honour and revenge, Amit Shah tells Jat audience in riot areas

Anti-Muslim rhetoric runs high as the BJP election manager in Uttar Pradesh addresses meetings in areas torn apart by riots in September.

On Thursday, SDJ high school in Raajhar village, 40 km from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, was preparing to receive an important visitor. The teachers were stringing up marigold garlands in the computer labs. Folk musicians were singing raginis that satirically spoke of the emasculation of all men under the present government.

The chief guest arrived four-and-a half hours late. “I got delayed because of the broken roads in the area,” said Amit Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manager in Uttar Pradesh. “When Narendra Modi comes to power, each village will have proper roads and electricity.”

Shah, 50, is the former Home Minister of Gujarat who has been accused in a fake encounter case and was asked by the Supreme Court of India in 2010 to stay away from the state to prevent him from influencing witnesses. He was accompanied to the meeting by BJP legislator Suresh Rana, who was imprisoned for 12 days for his role in precipitating riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in August and September that left 49 people dead.

Since the Raajhar event was billed as a private meeting with the Jat community organised by Amit Pawar, an industrialist who owns mines in Indonesia, Shah did not use the microphone to address the gathering of 400 Jat men for the fear of violating the model code of conduct.

Raajhar village is the headquarters of the Batteesaa Khaps, a sub-group of the Jat community that dominates this sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh. Western Uttar Pradesh has 25 out of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Jats have been the traditional vote base of Ajit Singh’s Rashtra Lok Dal. But this September, after the communal riots in the area between Jats and Muslims, the Jat vote began to shift towards the BJP, which won only 10 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the state.

In the wake of the riots, the BJP not only managed to repackage the Jat identity into that of a larger Hindu one but also deflect attention from the bad governance of its own candidates. It fanned the demand for the withdrawal of the 356 cases against members of the Jat community for rioting, polarising voters on communal lines.

Though the crowd applauded as Shah blamed the bad roads for his unpunctuality, his explanation didn’t cut much ice. After all, the constituency has been ruled by BJP MLA Hukum Singh for over two decades. Singh is one of the 16 political leaders accused of sparking off the Muzaffarnagar riots, and was the Lok Sabha candidate for whom Shah is campaigning.

Suddenly, one man shouted, “We have only two demands: there should be a separate law to ban same gotra self-choice marriages under the Hindu law and all cases against Jats in the communal riots must be withdrawn.”

Shah raised his hand to reassure the man. “For the integrity of this community, the answer is Modi government,” he said. “Not the government who gives compensation to those who killed Jats.”

Shah added, “This is the time to avenge. The leaders standing next to me” – he pointed to Suresh Rana and Hukum Singh – “have also been humiliated. A man can sleep hungry but not humiliated. This is the time to take revenge by voting for Modi. This will defeat both the governments: the one at the Centre and UP government who lathi-charged and tortured our leaders.”

The honour theme spilled over into the next meeting in the Raja Rani banquet hall in Shamli district.  This time, Shah was joined by Ajit Singh, the headman of Lissad, one of villages worst affected in the riots, who stands accused of fanning the violence. Several khap leaders of the Jat community were also present.

The meeting started with a request from Udayvir Pehelka, an octogenarian Jat leader: “If Amit Shah has come to talk to us, he must promise that he will help us withdraw all the false cases against the Jats and secondly, address a national problem, which is to control the population of this country, else soon enough votes from our community will not count and only” – he stopped to make a sign indicating a beard under his chin –  “they will be present everywhere”.

When Shah took the stage, he declared, “This election is the election of honour and revenge.” He said that women in UP were not safe. “And when we protect them, we are called rioters because Mullah Mulayam is busy defending the minority”, he said, making a reference to the support Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party gives to the area’s Muslims.

Shah quoted a Narendra Modi’s tweet, promising “to stop pink revolution and start green revolution”. The pink revolution referred to the slaughter of cows and animals, he explained. “Beggars have turned millionaires by running butcher houses,” Shah claimed, taking another swipe at the area’s Muslim community.

He ended by invoking Pakistan, rhetoric that always plays well for a community that sends large numbers of members to the security forces. “When Narendra Modi comes to power on May 16, Pakistan will learn a lesson for beheading our three soldiers,” Shah said. “Uttar Pradesh has always played a role in change. This time western Uttar Pradesh must ensure that Modi comes to power!”

 
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

We asked them and here's the verdict: Scotch is one of the #GiftsMenLove

A handy guide to buying a gift for a guy.

Valentine’s day is around the corner so men and women everywhere are racking their brains for the perfect present. Buying a gift for men though can be a stressful experience. Be it a birthday, celebration or personal milestone, many men and women find it difficult to figure out what their male friends or significant others want. That’s why TVF decided to perform a public service and ask the guys directly what they loved. So, the next time you’re running around to buy a gift for a man, just pick something from the list below and thank us later.

Watches: A watch can complete a man’s ensemble and quickly become a talking (or bragging) point at a party. If your man loves classics, a vintage HMT (if you can find one) with a metal strap should be your brand of choice. For fun-loving guys, try a Swatch watch with a pop-coloured leather strap or even a watch with Swarovski crystal studded dials from a variety of watchmakers. Fossil’s unconventional dials will delight a creative or artistic soul. Alternatively, the G-shock collection by Casio is reasonably priced, waterproof and perfect for those who love adventure sports. If your man is a fitness enthusiast, surprise him with an excellent fitness band from GoQii.

Image Credits: Pexels
Image Credits: Pexels

Whisky: A well stocked bar is every man’s pride and joy. Whisky, especially scotch is an extremely popular gift with men. It is a gift that can be displayed with pride and shared on occasions with friends and family. Scotch is any whisky (single malt or blended) that comes from Scotland, is usually aged for at least three years (often more) and distilled twice. Each region in Scotland produces whisky with a distinct flavor. Spirits from Islay, like Laphroaig, tend to have a strong peat flavor while single malts from Speyside tend to be lighter and sweeter. Connoisseurs will sing praises of the golden colour of blends like Johnny Walker or Black and White, and the smoky taste of Scotch whiskies like Black Dog. If your partner is truly mad about malts, go the whole hog and surprise him with a malt tour in Scotland - the ultimate whisky experience.

Image Credit: Pexels
Image Credit: Pexels

Jackets: For a more personal touch, a jacket can be quite an apt gift. A romantic-at-heart will love a traditional bandhgala while bike enthusiasts swear by their weather-worn leather jackets. Blazers are great day-to-night apparel, looking perfectly at home in the office or in a bar. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to brands and designers: high street labels like Blackberry’s and Zara offer trendy outerwear at affordable prices. Custom made jackets like the ones from Raymond’s Made-To-Measure collection or the Bombay Shirt Company are also a great option, if you really want to get creative with the design.

Sunglasses: If your friend is a globetrotter, a smart pair of shades will delight him like nothing else. Whether he is sunbathing in the Maldives, chasing zebras in Tanzania or skiing in Courchevel, this travel accessory adds an instant glam quotient to almost every type of holiday. Recent sunglass trends have been a major throwback to retro shapes inspired from Hollywood films like Tom Cruise’s aviators from Top Gun, Steve McQueen’s Persols from The Thomas Crown Affair or the wayfarers sported by the lead actors in The Blues Brothers. You’ll find many variations at high street brands like H&M and Diesel but if you can stretch the budget, pick up a good quality pair from Burberry or Louis Vuitton. Better yet, buy a unisex design that you can borrow when your heart desires!

Image Credits: Pexels
Image Credits: Pexels

Headphones: Most guys love their music, whether their choice of genre is soft rock, hard metal or folk fusion. So, it makes sense that headphones are on the list of the most popular gifts loved by men. Make sure you know what you’re looking for when it comes to buying headphones. For style combined with comfort, Skull Candy headphones come in a fun palette of colours. For amazing sound quality and pumping bass, you can opt for Shure or Sennheiser; they may look basic but deliver on their audio capabilities. Audio-Technica headphones are also gaining a cult following among audiophiles for their excellent sound clarity. If your man listens to music while working out, get the Jabra Sports in-ear headphones which are made for the gym. Though it feels pragmatic, this gift will be treasured by all music lovers.

So, take a pick from this list and the guy you gift will be indebted to you for life! For more great gifting ideas, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of LiveInStyle and not by the Scroll editorial team.