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Hate speeches woo voters
Published on 22 Mar. 2009 12:33 AM IST
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Ahead of elections, there is always an attempt to play identity politics and polarise votes. Hate speeches, tinged with communal overtones, play a key role in whipping up emotions and dividing secular groups. Adityanath, a venom-spewing yogi whose communal hate speeches are well known, has been key to communal conflicts but his rhetoric and his politics got him elected as the BJP leader from Gorakhpur in the year 2004. Hate speeches may or may not be rooted in personal belief but they are united in one aim to polarize community equations and consolidate votes. That is why one of the key tasks for EC observers during elections is to monitor the sharp increase in vitriolic CDs, speeches and tapes that appear during campaigning. The Hindutva brigade takes the lead. Men like Vinay Katiyar and Praveen Togadia are famous for their communally charged speeches. Their politics may not always guarantee Hindu votes but they succeed in polarising the Muslim vote. Following Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, Mulayam also emerged as the messiah of the Muslims. Twenty years later that glory may be fading but on the ground most parties whose electoral numbers depend on the Muslim vote can get away with doing little ground work playing instead identity politics. A recent example is from Azamgarh where after the Batla House Encounter, emotions were high and were quickly exploited. “Support me and I promise to teach them a lesson,” said Abu Azmi, Leader, SP. With an eye on the elections, leaders like Abu Azmi and Imam Bukhari gathered to make what may not be direct hate speeches but were coloured in a communal rhetoric. Their speeches were designed to intensify Muslim grievance fear and alienation in order to ensure a polarised vote.

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