Accusing the BJP of polarisation during assembly polls by raking up issues such as the Hijab row and the Uniform Civil Code, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Sunday said it showed that the BJP was ”jittery” as its hold over the electorate was slipping, and asserted that the people were beginning to see ”through their tricks”.
He also termed the dubbing of the elections in Uttar Pradesh as a bipolar contest between the BJP and the Samajwadi Party by some quarters as an ”exaggeration” and said ”this will not be the end of the story of the Congress party’s revival, this will be the beginning of that story”.
In an interview with PTI, Khurshid also stated that not announcing a CM face was not a cause of concern for the Congress in UP as the party has Priyanka Gandhi Vadra leading from the front.
Asked about the Hijab row that erupted in Karnataka and has since reared its head in other states as well, he said it may well be a ”very devious strategy” deployed by the BJP but it is also a reflection of their ”complete and total bankruptcy of ideas”.
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It also shows a complete lack of confidence in their performance of the last seven years, the former Union minister added. ”I am getting more and more of the sense that people are beginning to see through their tricks including people who have supported them (BJP) in the past few years and I hope this will have an impact on the actual result ” said Khurshid, whose wife Louise Khurshid is contesting from UP’s Farrukhabad.
Asked if he sees the Hijab issue being raised as a polarisation strategy ahead of polls, he asked why else would it be raised now. ”Hijab is not something that started yesterday, Hijab has been going on for a long time…it is a known fact that Hijab has been there for a long time and girls have been using the Hijab in an appropriate manner in terms of colour and so on. Why should they be raising it today? It is very clear that they are using it for a very devious reason,” Khurshid said. Underlining that the courts have taken a clear view on the matter, he said most sensible people will understand that this is an issue of personal liberty and that this is no different from a man wearing a cap, a man wearing a ‘paggad’, or a Sikh wearing a turban because these are all issues that relate to either religious practice or religious beliefs or indeed even cultural and social beliefs, and are all protected by rights under the Constitution.
Hitting out at Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami over his remarks that the BJP will form a committee to prepare a draft Uniform Civil Code (UCC) if re-elected in the state, Khurshid said they don’t even know what a UCC is and have never articulated what it is. ”Does the UCC mean that the Hindu law will be altered and it would be made compatible with the Islamic law or Christian law, or will Christian or Islamic law be altered to make it compatible with the Hindu law,” he asked. Khurshid pointed out that there are different religions in the country, including Buddhism and Jainism, that have different personal laws and laws of conduct, and for anyone to say that we will have a UCC, they must first clarify what they mean by it and also make it clear that how it will add to in any way to the quality of national life that we all value and cherish.
He claimed that raising all such issues points to the BJP’s lack of confidence and its ”hold over the electorate beginning to slip”. ”I think that is why they are reaching out to such completely irrelevant things,” Khurshid said.
Speaking about the issue of polarisation, he said it has worked for the BJP in the past but has not been working since then. ”I think the general feeling is that polarisation is not going to work. There is no doubt that they are jittery,” he said.
Khurshid said the BJP know they have been an utmost ”failure” in terms of governance and performance and therefore they have to go back to something else, something that has worked for them in the past, but hopefully that is something that is unlikely to work again. Asked about some political pundits pointing to a bipolar contest panning in UP between BJP and SP, Khrushid said calling the election bipolar is a ”little bit of an exaggeration” because a lot depends on how the seats pan out in terms of who the candidates are and what kind of communities each seat has in terms of percentages and so on. ”It would be a little bit short-sighted and premature to say that the contest is bipolar. When the dust settles, it may well be that there is a front runner to challenge the BJP and it may well be that the BJP flounders because of anti-incumbency and a very poor record both in terms of treatment of human values and human rights, farmers, women, security of people on the streets etc.,” he said.
He said the Congress has to register a ”bounce-back situation” and expressed confidence that it would reflect an ”emphatic presence” on March 10 when results would be out.
”We have had a very dismal record in the past few years and we have fought very hard under Priyanka Gandhi ji to bounce back and make our presence felt,” Khurshid said.
”We will emphatically register ourselves on the landscape (of UP),” he asserted.
Pointing out that the party is fighting on all seats in UP after a long time, he said that with the party fighting these seats with 40 per cent going to women, a permanent mark will be left on the politics of UP one way or the other. ”This will not be the end of the story of the Congress party’s revival, this will be the beginning of that story,” he asserted.
Asked about the Congress not declaring a CM face for UP and whether it would impact the party’s chances, Khurshid said it would not be a factor as Priyanka Gandhi’s face was there as leading from the front.
”It is not felt necessary that we should signify as to how that face is also the face of a CM. We generally don’t announce CM faces, Sheila (Dikshit) ji was a chief minister of great substance and success but we did not declare her in advance,” he said.