It started in Tamil Nadu, with #GoBackModi trending pretty much every time the Prime Minister came to the state. Then, Kerala followed with #PoMoneModi. Now, for perhaps the first time, the hashtag #GoBackModi trended in Karnataka during the Prime Ministerâ€™s two-day visit to the state, on Thursday and Friday. And activists who are part of the protests against CAA and NRC, and who have been organising the trends say, that this hashtag and slogan has become a mark of dissent against the Prime Minister, wherever he visits.
The hashtag appeared on Twitter before the Prime Minister arrived in Karnataka for a two-day state visit on Thursday. On Thursday night, a campaign was organised by 'Hum Bharat Ke Log', a collective of organisations protesting against the CAA and NRC in Bengaluru, to make #GoBackModi trend on Twitter. As of Friday, the hashtag had been used over 66,000 times on the social media platform.
Later in the day, a group of protesters held up placards displaying #GoBackModi at a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) held at Town Hall in Bengaluru. The protesters also chanted "Go Back Modi" slogans. The protest took place after PM Modi left the city, since police denied permission for it to be held earlier in the day. The protest in Town Hall on Friday is the first sign of the slogan and the hashtag being used in Karnataka during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The history of resistance against the government is weak and what is happening now is that networks are being formed and people are meeting despite their political differences to stand together and say Go Back Modi," says Avani Choksi, one of the protesters.
Avani says that this is also a sign that Bengaluru residents are increasingly speaking out against the government's policies. "In the last two days that Modi was in Karnataka, his speeches have focused on Pakistan and not on India. You see the increasing inequality faced by the citizens of India and you see that combined with the divisive politics which has led to polarisation of people. People in Bengaluru are coming out to protest and increasingly speaking out against this," adds Avani.
While speaking in Tumakuru on Thursday, Modi had said that those protesting against the CAA were protesting against those who fled Pakistan for fear of persecution on religious grounds.
The many instances of #GoBackModi
The hashtag 'Go Back Modi' trended on Twitter when the Prime Minister was in Chennai in September 2019 to attend the convocation at IIT Madras. Tweets with the same hashtag had appeared as early as May 2016 when Prime Minister Modi had compared Kerala to Somalia during his visit to the state. In April 2018, protesters who demanded the formation of the Cauvery Management Board raised black flags and released balloons with the slogan 'Go Back Modi' in Tamil Nadu. By then 'Go Back Modi' had become a recurring theme during Modi's visits to the state. In the last year, the hashtag 'Go Back Modi' has accompanied Modi on many of his visits to Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra ('#Modi_Parat_Ja), and now Karnataka. The hashtags trended both in Maharashtra and Karnataka when they had BJP governments.
Vinay Sreenivasa, an activist and also a part of Hum Bharat Ke Log campaign, says that young protesters are looking at the resistance in Tamil Nadu and applying it in other cities.
"At the protest in Bengaluru, there were a lot of young students and working professionals taking part. Many of them are also on Twitter and are observing the resistance in other places. This shows that there is anger against the government for its policies. This was amplified by the fact that the Karnataka Chief Minister had to appeal to the Prime Minister for flood-relief funds on stage," Vinay says. Sharing the stage with PM Modi on Thursday, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa once again requested him to release a special package of Rs 50,000 crore for the state.
The anti-CAA protest planned at Town Hall on Friday was delayed by two hours after police officials denied permission for the protest until the Prime Minister had left the city. He inaugurated the Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru before departing around noon on Friday.
Activists and citizens read out the preamble of the Constitution during the protest before placards showing 'Go Back Modi' were displayed. "The reason why protests in Bengaluru have sustained nearly 20 days is because there is a young crowd turning up here. I don't know if it is the case in other cities but people from all walks of life including students are turning up here spontaneously," Rajesh Umadevi Srinivas, an activist based in Bengaluru says.