NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party has moved from demonetisation back to communalisation, relying again on its old Ram Mandir plank to revive the support that seems to have vanished with the Rs 1000 note in Uttar Pradesh.

Days before the first round of polling in the state on February 11, the BJP election manifesto gave the first indication that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation was no longer the hub of the party campaign in UP. And that the widespread opposition and anger against the move across UP, has finally penetrated the protective walls built around demonetisation by the party that is now trying to shift the focus back to its usual agenda of Ram Mandir, triple talaq, cow slaughter and alleged ‘exodus’ of the majority community from places in west UP like Kairana.

In fact while releasing the manifesto BJP President Amit Shah spoke of a white paper on the exodus, with the ‘surgical strike’ through demonetisation having been quietly edged out for the core substance of Hindutva.

The overwhelming anger with the BJP because of demonetisation that has closed down the small businesses, and rendered workers jobless all across the state, has brought Hindutva and communalisation back to the centre of the party’s electoral plank. It is clear again that in the coming days the drums that had paused just ever so slightly for the bugles of demonetisation to take over, are back to beating out the chorus of divisiveness with beef, the mandir, Kairana, and all related issues back officially on the BJP mantle.

The BJP faced with negative hostility because of communalisation is now working on two tracks: one on bringing communalisation that had worked for it in 2014 by splitting unity between Jat and Muslims at the time through the Muzaffarnagar violence following reports that the communities were getting back together again. (The Citizen has carried extensive reports on this).

And two, in helping if and where it can further confound the confusion in the anti-BJP vote insofar as its political choice is concerned. In that, if the vote is divided between the Samajwadi party and the Bahujan Samaj party the BJP will be the beneficiary. Even if unintended by the voter. And as a SP leader said, the confusion is already being created through deliberate propaganda in specific constituencies that the BSP is ahead, and in others that the Samajwadi party is ahead, leading to great confusion in the vote bank now. As he added, if this does not clear soon in favour of one or the other party, despite having the support, we will lose and the BJP will win.

Mayawati had started her campaign ahead of all other political parties, and thereby consolidated the Dalit vote and attracted the Muslim vote for what is a winning formula in UP. The emergence of Akhilesh Yadav has cut into this, with the minorities now clearly confused, and waiting to see whether he emerges as a plausible favourite during the campaign.

The BJP is waiting in the wings to ensure that the confusion shifts in its favour, and the split in votes between the two regional options brings it home to victory. It has an excellent propaganda system in place, and as the RSS has done several times in the past---the general elections in 1984 being a standing example---it can create a false winner to attract, but actually, divide the vote bank.

It is a well known fact in UP that there is a substantial vote bank that tends to shift last moment towards the side that is perceived to be winning. Generating a perception thus becomes crucial to all political parties in the fray, and while the SP and the BSP are usually working on this propaganda for themselves, the RSS has been known to do this in specific seats for one or the other of the regional parties to divide the votes and allow the benefit thus to flow to the BJP.

Meanwhile, the BJP has started intensifying its communal campaign to again isolate the minorities from other vote banks that seem to have been trying to mend the communal divide. For instance The Citizen documented a certain emerging camraderie between the Jats and the Muslims,for the first time since the 2013 Muzaffarnagar violence. The emphasis on demonetisation by the BJP had brought the affected communities together, but now that the BJP is back to drumming the communal beat, the unity could be fractured in the coming days before the first votes are cast.