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Lok Sabha Polls 2024: From Development to Religion—A Polarizing Shift

Discussions for the Lok Sabha polls in 2024 initially focused on growth and development. But now the focus has been shifted to the benefits from development—based on categories, religions, and castes. This change brought religious issues into the campaign discourse. Sourabh Raaj Jain, anchor of DNA Zed News, today analyzed how the focus of the 2024 Lok Sabha election will change from development to religion.

Speeches during election rallies have shifted from reservations to religious reservations, and concerns regarding the division of land among various faiths have surfaced. Lately, the discourse has intensified to an eighty-twenty proportions gulf, prompting conversations concerning Ghazwa-e-Hind via religious reservation.

This scenario raises the fundamental question: does the Hindu-Muslim divide affect actual life, or is it confined to electoral politics?

In general, no party is exclusive when it comes to incorporating religious themes into politics. A review of several remarks shows that religious overtones work well for all political parties during elections.

The remarks made by BJP leader and Amravati candidate Navneet Rana reflect this viewpoint. Rana challenged Akbaruddin Owaisi and his brother Asaduddin Owaisi in Hyderabad, saying if police were removed from duty for 15 seconds, the brothers “would not know from where they came and where they went.”

“I always stand by my statement. I am not afraid of anyone. We are committed to giving a reply to those who work for Pakistan in India. If they will take 15 minutes, we will take 15 seconds,” Navneet Rana said. Rana was heard saying in a video clip she posted on her X handle, tagging the Owaisi brothers, “The younger brother says, ‘Remove the police for 15 minutes so that we can show them what we can do.’ I want to tell the younger brother (Akbaruddin) that it might take you 15 minutes, but it will only take us 15 seconds. It will take us all of 15 seconds if we come to the forefront.”

Reacting to BJP leader Navneet Rana’s “15-second lagenge” remark, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give her one hour instead of 15 seconds and asserted they are not “scared” of the BJP leader.

“I tell Modi ji – give her 15 seconds. What will you do? Give her 15 seconds, give her 1 hour. We, too, want to see if you have any humanity left in you. Who is scared? We are ready…

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.If someone is making an open call for it, then so be it. PM is yours; RSS is yours; everything is yours. Do it. Who is stopping you? Tell us where we have to come, we will be there. Do it,” Owaisi told reporters on Thursday.

At a meeting in 2013, Akbaruddin warned “100 crore Hindus” that his community would show what it could do if the police were withdrawn for ’15 minutes’. After fellow party member Navneet Rana’s ’15 seconds lagenge’ remark stoked controversy, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Madhavi Latha on Thursday said that the former wanted to convey to the citizens that it will only take 15 seconds to cast their vote, which will help the nation move towards ‘Viksit Bharat’.

Speaking to ANI, BJP’s Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat candidate, Madhavi Latha, said, “We do not threaten anyone. We do not say to remove the police force for 15 minutes. We just want to say that you should take 15 seconds instead of 15 minutes and cast your vote. Do not go to attend provocative speeches. If you want to move towards ‘Viksit Bharat’. Go and cast your vote. This is what she (Navneet Rana) meant.”

Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of AIMIM and a four-time member of the Lok Sabha, presents a difficult opponent for Latha. This is the first time a female candidate from the Hyderabad constituency has been fielded by the BJP. The Owaisi family has maintained a stronghold in Hyderabad.

It is noteworthy that in 2022, the Sessions Court cleared Akbaruddin of all charges despite his 2013 speech earning him a 40-day jail sentence. This was due to insufficient evidence. The police are accused of providing biased evidence to protect Akbaruddin, and the case is still being investigated by the High Court.

One would wonder why Barrister Owaisi did not bring up his acquittal in the midst of all of this. Maybe the resurfacing of an eleven-year-old grudge does not affect him too much.

Recent developments show that religion is becoming a central theme in the upcoming elections, overshadowing previous discussions on development and growth. The rhetoric from candidates and prominent leaders continues to evoke religious sentiments as they gear up for the 2024 polls.