Amid 76th Independence Day fervour, Opposition finds new ‘coloniser’ in BJP

The description of the BJP as a "coloniser" comes ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s nationwide Bharat Jodo Yatra, scheduled to begin on 2 October, aka Gandhi Jayanti, this year.

ByAnusha Ravi Sood

Published Aug 05, 2022 | 4:58 PMUpdatedAug 05, 2022 | 8:38 PM

Rahul Gandhi

As India moves towards her 76th Independence Day, marking her freedom from British colonisation, Opposition parties seem to have found a new “coloniser” in the BJP.

There is no dearth of displays of patriotism and anti-colonial sentiment during this time of the year in India, and the Opposition parties seem to have timed their new description of the Narendra Modi-led Union government and the ruling party BJP to perfection.

Within a span of two days, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Tamil Nadu’s Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan used the same words to describe the BJP and the Union government: Colonisers, colonial powers, colonialism.

The Tamil Nadu government — currently formed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which is the Congress’ alliance partner — is an unabashed critic of the BJP.

When Rahul Gandhi deemed the BJP a coloniser during his 3 August speech in Karnataka, he was referring to cultural colonialism.

“The BJP wants to impose one idea on top of Karnataka. It wants to colonise Karnataka,” were Rahul Gandhi’s words.

Tamil Nadu minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan’s take was along the lines of administrative and financial colonialism.

“The Union government thinks that states should become mere vassals and slaves, saying ‘yes sir, three bags full’,” Thiaga Rajan said, equating the Central government with “colonial powers”.

So, did the Opposition parties plan on building this narrative around the BJP and its style of functioning as a ruling party, and time it to suit the patriotic fervour around Independence Day, or was it all a mere coincidence?

“It wasn’t a planned narrative but just an honest description of what the Union government is. Its authoritarianism has reached the peak, and we are simply calling it out. If anything, we will continue to describe it as colonial more often now,” DMK spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai told South First.

Interestingly, it was Rahul Gandhi — a man who has often been ridiculed by the BJP for his Italian ancestry — who was the one to describe the saffron party as an imposing outsider: a coloniser.

Perhaps, it was a comeback of sorts for all the times BJP leaders deemed him and Congress president Sonia Gandhi “outsiders”.

Leaders of both the Congress and the DMK are keen on reiterating the “coloniser” charge against the BJP — a party whose general theme is hypernationalism.

Painting a picture of the BJP as a coloniser in the backdrop of his Bharat Jodo Yatra, scheduled to start on Gandhi Jayanti — 2 October — this year, is Rahul Gandhi planning to posture himself as the leader of a new “freedom struggle” against the Opposition’s newfound colonisers?