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'India supports CAA' is Modi's 'Main bhi Chowkidar' 2.0
In March this year, with a looming election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was cornered with a volley of scam allegations in the multi-million Rafale deal.
With his back to the wall, he chose an aggressive retort as his defence, kicking off a "Main bhi chowkidar" campaign that soon saw BJP members -- from Union Ministers to booth workers -- prefixing "Chowkidar" to their social media names. Nine months on, as he faces a similar situation where nationwide anti-CAA protest refuse to die down amid sporadic violence and an unrelenting opposition, Modi launched another campaign on Monday -- "India supports CAA", resurrecting his aggressive defence once again.
On Monday, the Prime Minister, in a tweet, launched the campaign where he stated, "#IndiaSupportsCAA because CAA is about giving citizenship to persecuted refugees & not about taking anyone's citizenship away. Check out this hashtag in Your Voice section of Volunteer module on NaMo App for content, graphics, videos & more. Share & show your support for CAA."
Very soon, the hashtag started trending on top and many top ministers, BJP state chiefs, Chief Ministers' of BJP-ruled states, social media influencers and most importantly, a large number of common people, started voicing their stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act, using the hashtag.
While, Manipur CM Biren Singh posted "myth busters", Karnataka BJP called it "Script by INC against CAA". Party spokesman and newly-elected Rajya Sabha member G.V.L. Narasimha Rao tweeted photos of a pro-CAA rally he attended in Andhra Pradesh's Ongole. Bengal's BJP man Mukul Roy also used the same hashtag and posted photos from another pro-CAA rally in Bengal's Cooch Behar, where party leader Arun Singh was present, on Sunday, as part of its nationwide PR exercise on the matter, as first reported by IANS.
Even social media influencers -- both domestic and international, with millions of followers started using the trend.
But what should give relief to the ruling party is a vast number of Twitter users, who had so far been overwhelmed by massive anti-CAA chants or remained silent, expressing their mind. While most of them are traditional BJP voters, many are not, which can be ascertained with a cursory glance on their timeline.
"See, Narendra Modi's idea of democracy is where the ruling party alone that matters. He doesn't care about the opposition. Interestingly, he is still a very popular leader and whatever he says, appears to be believable to most," said Prof Harish Ramaswamy, a political thinker, while describing how Modi can afford to go aggressive even in the face of multi-pronged attacks.
It's deja vu for many in the BJP, like Union Minister Piyush Goyal who today posted tweets using the hashtag "India supports CAA" and back in March, prefixed the word "Chowkidar" to his name on the microblogging site. And why only Goyal, from BJP President Amit Shah to Union Ministers, including the then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, had prefixed 'chowkidar' (watchman) to their names.
With Rahul Gandhi's "Chowkidar Chor Hai" allegation, suggesting there has been a scam in the Rafale fighter jet deal, Modi amplified that he was a "watchman" and had suggested through political rallies that he will continue to "guard the nation", regardless of the allegations. It turned out, Modi's aggressive defence paid off with the BJP 2.0 returning back to power with a bigger mandate of 303 seats, at the fag end of May this year. Will his Main bhi Chowkidar 2.0 pay off?
Already the NaMo App, which has 10 million followers, is filled with animations and videos to back Modi's "India supports CAA" campaign. Starting Sunday, BJP has kickstarted its pan India outreach on the matter. After Arun Singh and Narasimha Rao, former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan will be in Nashik on Monday, while Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat will be in Telangana's Karimnagar. Starting January 2, Home Minister Amit Shah's key man Bhupendra Yadav will be going around the nation with the same endeavour, to amplify Modi's "India supports CAA" campaign.