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Reading Between Amit Shah's Lines: Back to Basics, With a Twist

In his first big interview before the five-state elections, Amit Shah was asked by Network18 Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi if the party was pursuing a soft Hindutva line to mobilise votes in Uttar Pradesh.

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated:January 29, 2017, 7:17 PM IST
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Reading Between Amit Shah's Lines: Back to Basics, With a Twist
BJP chief Amit Shah during an exclusive interview with Network18. (Photo: News18)
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New Delhi: As the race for Uttar Pradesh enters the last lap, Amit Shah has gone back to the basics albeit with an improvisation of sorts.

The larger theme for the BJP this election remains the performance of the Samajwadi Party government on the law and order front. But very subtly the BJP president is now attempting to dovetail it with issues that can potentially resurrect the communal cauldron.

In his first big interview before the five-state elections, Amit Shah was asked by Network18 Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi if the party was pursuing a soft Hindutva line to mobilise votes in Uttar Pradesh.

Amit Shah to Network18

And this was Shah’s response: “Please don't see a ban on slaughterhouses from that point of view. In all of UP — whether it is western UP, Awadh, Rohailkhand, Purvanchal — you will see that due to slaughterhouses, cows that give milk are finished. We want to prevent cattle smuggling and slaughter. Today even FIRs are not registered in UP in such cases.”

Now sample this. On being asked to respond to rabble rousers in the party, Shah replies, “Please do not link this with the BJP. UP presents a peculiar condition. There's anger among the general public. People are reflecting the public mood against the politics of appeasement and vote bank. If someone speaks up against the politics of appeasement and vote bank, he is only articulating public mood.”

Amit Shah to Network18

The BJP was off the block quite early in its preparations for the high stake battle in UP. The blueprint was clear. Attack the SP government saddled with chachas’s et al on the prevailing law and order situation in the state. Mathura clash and Bulandshahr road rapes only underscored this narrative.

But the fast-paced Yadav family soap opera overwhelmed just about any political discourse in the last four months. In between, BJP attempted to create its own distinct narrative spun around two surgical strikes: one across the border and the other on black money. Four months after the Army neutralised terror camps across Line of Control, is it really an election issue in UP? Or for that matter was the midnight demonetisation going to fetch votes anywhere?

Amit Shah to Network18

The party manifesto speaks for itself. Mechanical abattoirs, triple talaq, Ram Mandir, it has everything.

It’s a peek into what is going to be a high voltage campaign for a high-stake battle.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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