AT a speech at Wardha launching his formal campaign for 2019 Parliamentary elections, PM Narendra Modi resorted to blatantly divisive communal rhetoric, accusing rival parties of having an anti-Hindu agenda. The tone and content of the speech betrayed Modi's nervousness and desperation. Unable to convincingly face voters on questions about jobs and farmers, and beleaguered by multiple corruption scandals, Modi and BJP are trying the last trick possible - of turning the election from BJP vs Opposition to Hindu vs Muslim.

Before this, Modi and the BJP tried other catch phrases and campaign pegs, none of which really clicked.

In a recent speech Modi asked why the Opposition had displayed concern for the safe return of the Air Force pilot Abhinandan who had been captured in Pakistan. Modi expressed displeasure that concern for Abhinandan's welfare had taken away attention from a single-minded adulation of his Government for its aggression against Pakistan. Now it turns out that an Indian Air Force jet which crashed in Budgam in J&K could have been a victim of 'friendly fire', i.e. a mistaken target of the IAF itself. If an investigation finds this true, it is not only deeply embarrassing and unprofessional but also tragic, since the life of an IAF pilot was lost needlessly.

Modi's Chowkidar rhetoric also raised questions about why his Government was acting as security guards in service of the rich and powerful while real life security guards barely earn a minimum wage.

With other planks failing to deliver, Modi returned to his old signature tune of crude communal hate speech. At Wardha he referenced the Samjhauta blast case in which Swami Aseemanand and two others were acquitted. He accused the Congress of having insulted Hindus by falsely accusing Hindus of terrorism. He declared that no Hindu had ever been a terrorist. He added that the Congress, afraid of Hindu rage, had chosen to field Rahul Gandhi from the Wayanad seat where Muslims rather than Hindus dominated.

Modi's speech raises many questions. First, the fact is that at Wayanad, Hindu voters are in fact a majority, so Modi uttered a deliberate lie. Next, the question is, does an allegation of terrorism against some members of a community mean the whole community is a terrorist one? By saying Hindus as a community can never be terrorist is Modi saying the Muslim community is terrorist, because some Muslims are accused of terrorism? Why is Modi silent on the fact that many Muslims have been acquitted of terror charges by Courts that found the police had fabricated charges against them?

In the Samjhauta case, a Prosecutor Rohini Salian had complained not long ago that she was being removed from the case because she refused to succumb to Government pressure to weaken the case. A judge in the case has said that the prosecution withheld crucial evidence, ensuring an acquittal. So Aseemanand - who had more than once confessed publicly to the blasts - and others are not innocent just because they are acquitted.

The recent Christchurch terror attack on a mosque in New Zealand aroused the world's attention to Islamophobic terrorism and far-right terror. India already has a long history of Islamophobic and Hindutva far right terror. In the first instance of terrorism in independent India, Gandhi himself was assassinated by an Islamophobic Hindutva terrorist Godse, who hated Gandhi for his principled stand for unity and love between Hindus and Muslims. More recently, groups which venerate and emulate Godse have killed many rationalists and journalists in India.

Modi's own Minister, the incumbent MP and current candidate from the Arrah LS, RK Singh had, as Home Secretary in the UPA regime, said that there was proof positive of RSS involvement in terrorism.

Arrah and central Bihar themselves are witness to the terrorism unleashed by the BJP backed feudal landed outfit Ranveer Sena which massacred Dalits including women and children. Would RK Singh and Modi care to clarify their position on whether or not the Ranveer Sena was a terrorist outfit?

Next week, 13 April 2019 marks the centenary of the Jallianwala massacre. The history of the massacre shows that the British colonial powers saw slogans and expressions of Hindu Muslim anti colonial unity as 'seditious' and deserving of the worst repression. This was where the Sangh and the Hindutva far right agenda joined hands with the colonial agenda. It is significant that Godse too saw Gandhi's support of Hindu Muslim unity as deserving of assassination. And today Modi and his supporters too, like the British colonial powers a 100 years ago, are deeply suspicious of and hostile to the very idea of Hindu Muslim unity.

Contrary to what Modi and the RSS want us to believe, the hostility to Hindu Muslim unity isn't 'nationalism', it is in fact a colonial import. While the Election Commission fails to act even on such blatant instances of gage speech, the people of India must be sure to punish Modi and BJP for trying to divide and rule India just as the British colonialists once did.