I grew up in a typical middle class family, in a typical small town, in typically poor India, with a typical ‘middle class’ value system.
The middle class in India is wired to believe that people can be bad but never so bad that they will hurt their own society.
That is why the Indian middle class runs a plethora of organisations like Brahman Samaj, Kayasth Samaj, Bania Samaj, Bahujan Samaj, et cetera. Or on regional or linguistic lines like Marathi Mandal, Andhra Circle, Bong Club, etc.
Yet, the middle class feels that there are people with various agendas which may hurt them in a crisis so they end up making more confined and secure sub-groups, such as Kanyakubj, Saraswat Samaj, CKP Samaj, Maheshwari/Agrawal Samaj, etc. These sub-groups then get further divided by locations specific to their colonies and residential societies.
Homogenous welfare, aspiration and security are what the middle class connects with and strives for. Since Hindu middle class forms the most dominant part of the Indian electorate, almost all political parties try to use these as vote banks, or should I say, exploit it to create a narrative in their favour.
Earlier Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi did their best to create a strong Hindu image by visiting temples, keeping Hindu godmen as their advisors, wearing tilaks and rudraksh malas or keeping ‘cow and calf’ as their election symbol.
They knew the middle class can be easily satisfied with photo ops and posturing and doesn’t care for complex policies which were for the minority appeasement. This double game of the Congress slowly started to surface and the Hindu middle class started feeling orphaned.
When Sonia Gandhi’s regime (2004 to 2014) started promoting secularism as a political weapon to appease minorities and subvert Hindu majority, some latent anger began to surface, especially amongst the youngsters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party understood it well, as most of them are ground level workers and from the middle class themselves. They consolidated this emotion and used it for a massive victory, under the leadership of Narendra Modi in 2014. The rest is history.
This victory gave the middle class self-confidence, security and hope that soon they might have what is rightfully theirs, in their control and as homogenous as possible: the Hindu Rashtra.
This hope united the Hindu middle class like never before. If you were the Congress or any other opposition party, your main objective would be to puncture this unity by creating doubt about Modi’s leadership and by trying to prove that Modi is incompetent and will lead them to doom.
Obviously, considering Modi’s larger than life image, it’s not an easy task. After its humiliating defeat, the Congress was given to understand by their media managers that they lost so badly not because of the incompetence of Rahul Gandhi but due to their lack of social media presence. Worse, Rahul Gandhi believed it.
Negativity creates more dopamine, more noise and gives a false sense of confidence to its user. Rahul Gandhi started believing that the best strategy is to hurt Modi’s Hindutva image.
Nobody told him that when you attack Hindutva, you are attacking India’s Hindu middle class. But being a novice, supported by enthusiastic social media managers with no understanding of the Indian middle class, slowly the Congress started sounding anti-Hindu and eventually anti-India.
To achieve this, they colluded with Urban Naxals, jihadis, Pakistan and anti-India foreign media and activists. Recently, a leaked toolkit, allegedly of the Indian National Congress, just proves my argument. Take a look.
The Congress, meanwhile, has filed an FIR against BJP president JP Nadda and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra over the toolkit.
In normal times, given the low morality of the virtual society, such politics is sometimes acceptable. But in this current COVID crisis, perhaps the deadliest in human history, the toolkit, titled, ‘Cornering Narendra Modi & BJP on COVID Mismanagement’, dated May 2021’ reveals the sinister politics that the party is resorting to and shows the criminal and inhuman side of its leadership:
1. Politicising religion and allowing ‘super spreader Kumbh’: This clause states how the party’s social media warriors, bots and fake accounts should label ‘Kumbh Mela’ as a ‘Hindu super spreader’ of COVID-19. It specifically asks to collaborate with friendly international media’ to spread this fake narrative.
One should ensure that they never compare it with Eid (for then the equivalence will be created and the party can’t hurt it's only vote bank of Muslims). Show that the ‘Kumbh is a show of political power in the name of religion, while Eid gatherings are happy social gatherings of families and communities’, the toolkit specifies.
It provides photos of ‘crowded Kumbh’ and ‘innocent Muslim kids’ celebrating Eid, for comparison. This is bigoted. Communal. And racist.
2. The next template is about PM CARES, which the Congress claims is created by ‘Modi for collecting money for unknown purposes’. In India, being a ‘political idiot’ is not a crime. And Rahul Gandhi takes maximum advantage of it.
The leaked toolkit asks supporters to ‘mobilise former civil servants to raise questions about PM CARES Fund’ and aggressively question any ‘celebrity who donates to PM CARES’. If they do, then use the social media warriors to embarrass them. This definitely is a dangerous thought. But that doesn’t stop here. The toolkit, which the BJP says is the Congress’s plan to defame PM Modi and India, encourages its supporters for intellectual dishonesty and plotting a fraud by calling the ‘unused ventilators in Punjab & Chhattisgarh’ as ‘defective’.
I found this extremely damaging and criminal in nature for playing with the emotions of already distressed people, by outraging them with fake news, created with malafide and inhuman intent.
3. Use the ‘Central Vista’ project of Delhi as a weapon to attack Modi, by branding the public utility project as ‘a ‘vanity project’ which has no public use but is only for Modi’s personal use’. Given the low levels of politics and the world of fake news, these can be accepted as one of the sinister plans of the BJP’s opponents. Fake news is the most common global political weapon used by almost all stakeholders of politics. What then is anti-national or inhuman about this toolkit?
4. Well, this is revealed in clause 5 & 6, where the toolkit asks the party’s supporters to show Indian Youth Congress as the helping hand of India. How this has to be done is where the criminality and inhumanity lies.
The alleged Congress toolkit asks supporters to force a ‘COVID patient seeking help to repost their requests’ for oxygen, bed, plasma or medicines by ‘tagging the IYC social media handle and its leading office bearers’ who have already conspired with ‘local ground level political leaders to ‘block’ some beds and other facilities in friendly hospitals, to be released only on their request’ to position the Congress party as the messiah of the people and thereby showing up the BJP as the villain.
It doesn’t stop here. The toolkit instructs social media warriors further to collude with ‘friendly journalists’ to amplify these messages.
So who are these ‘friendly accomplices’ from the media? We will soon know.
5. Last but not the least, the kit suggests many ways to damage ‘Prime Minister Modi’s image’ while acknowledging that “the approval ratings of Prime Minister Modi have been high and have not dipped despite crisis and mismanagement. This is an opportunity to destroy his image and erode his popularity’.
- The toolkit instructs to make fake handles ‘which resemble those of BJP supporters and use them to discredit Modi’. This is a criminal act.
- ‘Use the phrase ‘Indian strain’ whenever talking of the new mutant. Social media volunteers may call it ‘Modi strain’.’ This is the ugly side of racism.
- Use of ‘dramatic pictures of funerals and dead bodies’ and these can be magnified by friendly journalists and who, in turn, ‘can be facilitated by our local cadre’. This is an act of inhumanity and intellectual barbarism.
6. How do you amplify the messaging of this sinister toolkit? Well, it specifies the names of some friendly media houses: ‘Highlight and publicise in The Print, The Wire, Scroll, The Quint and Outlook. Stories that cannot be published in these organisations may be sent to The Caravan or National Herald.’
7. If you are still not satisfied with the damage to our society, if this is not a sureshot lethal recipe for the masses, in the midst of humanity’s biggest existential crisis, use some dressing by mobilizing ‘creative like-minded people in Bollywood to target Modi’.
This 5-page lethal recipe — if indeed prepared by the AICC’s Research Department on an Indian National Congress letterhead as alleged by the BJP — may appear sinister to some, communal and racist to some, but in my view, this is a criminal act. This is treachery, treason and sedition, all rolled in one. This is Rahul Gandhi’s Congress.
I hope the Modi government will get to the bottom of this and tell us it has indeed been prepared by one of India's enemies. How can an Indian political party ever think of damaging India?
Like me, millions hope this toolkit turns out to be fake.
Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is a national award winner filmmaker, bestselling author and a public intellectual.
The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.