New Delhi: Amidst the ongoing Karnataka election campaign, the opposition led by the Congress party has slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “conspicuous silence” over the killings of five Indian army officers by armed militants in Kashmir and the reports of largescale violence in Manipur leading to close to 50 deaths, as per media reports. Two days earlier, the wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar had accused the Delhi police of attacking them.
Prime Minister Modi is yet to speak about any of these issues. The Wire scrolled through his social media feed to get a sense of what he has been up to while the unrest brewed in Manipur. On Twitter, PM Modi has posted 30 tweets related to his campaign in Karnataka since May 3, at least a dozen of which attack the Congress party and the Janata Dal (Secular) JD[S].
On May 5, Modi attended election events in Ballari and Tumkaru and a roadshow in Bengaluru on May 6. He is scheduled to hold 2 road shows and 4 public rallies over the weekend in Karnataka’s capital city.
With opinion polls predicting that the BJP could lose out in Karnataka, Modi has begun campaigning extensively in the state. Starting his campaign from Mudbidri on May 3, he said that the Congress wanted to lock up those who say “Jai Bajrang Bali” – an apparent dig at the party’s promise to take action against the Bajrang Dal. He has also concluded election rallies with the slogan “Jai Bajrang Bali”. The Congress has accused him of deliberately conflating the Bajrang Dal with Lord Hanuman in an effort to polarise the electorate. The prime minister’s slogans could be interpreted as seeking votes in the name of religion, in violation of the rules.
The BJP governments – both in Manipur and at the centre – have been lambasted for their handling of the deteriorating law and order situation in Manipur. For the past four days, violence has broken out in the northeastern state over the demand of the majority Meitei community to get Scheduled Tribe status. Clashes have been reported between Meiteis and tribal communities in the state, resulting in the deployment of the Rapid Action Force.
Ironically, on May 5, Prime Minister Modi tweeted a video of him addressing an election rally in Karnataka. The caption of the tweet reads, “Going by its track record, Congress is incapable of handling serious law and order issues.”
In the video, he said that law and order is the foremost necessity to make Karnataka the number one state. “BJP has always been strict when it comes to law and order. But whenever we take action against terrorism, the Congress gets a stomach ache.” In the 10-minute video, the prime minister chose to endorse The Kerala Story, a propaganda film that claims to portray the ‘true story’ of Malayali women who converted to Islam and joined ISIS, instead of addressing the conflict in Manipur.
Modi’s endorsement came even as the producer of The Kerala Story told the high court on May 5, that the controversial film would remove the withdraw the teaser with the misleading claim that 32,000 women from the state were recruited by ISIS.
Prime Minister, Modi also did not address the terror attack in which five Army soldiers were killed in Rajouri district of J&K on Friday. As The Wire has reported, this was the third major attack in 2023 in the Pir Panjal area of the Jammu division. Seven civilians, including two minors, and ten army soldiers have been killed in these attacks.
Congress slams Modi, BJP
Speaking to the press, senior Congress party leader Jairam Ramesh attacked PM Modi’s theme of “double engine government” – a narrative put for by the saffron party that a BJP government in the state and centre is ideal for development. He pointed out that just over a year after Manipur elected a BJP government, it has got embroiled in communal violence.
Ramesh added that the unrest in Manipur has caused widespread concern, with internet services suspended, and the entire society in ferment. “Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi and home minister Amit Shah have been busy polarising the state of Karnataka,” he said.
On Twitter, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also expressed his concern over the recent developments in Manipur and alleged that the BJP has created fissures among communities, causing unrest in the Northeastern state. The situation in both Kashmir and Manipur is still developing, and security forces have been deployed to maintain peace and order.