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The RSS activist and Assam governor, PB Acharya, on Saturday made quite an obnoxious comment declaring that India was only for Hindus. As expected, Acharya’s act of bringing his constitutional post to utter disrepute was widely condemned on social media with many asking President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene. Others chose to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi about glaring contradictions in his famous Wembley speech on India being the land of diversity.
Acharya’s communally divisive comment has not come in isolation. His counterpart in Tripura and fellow motormouth RSS pracharak, Tathagata Roy, has been known for continuing with his bigotry even while holding a constitutional post. Roy, among other statements, also described Gujarat massacre that killed more than 1200 people, mostly Muslims, as a sign of Hindus’ courage.
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) November 22, 2015
Roy is notorious for making uncivilised and utterly provocative statements targetting India’s minority community prompting the members of civil society to question Modi’s decision to appoint them for such a prestigious constitutional position in the first place.
I’ve always maintained that BJP under Modi has believed in following the good cop-bad cop strategy, which gives free reign to loony elements such as Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj, Sangeet Som, Roy and Acharya to practice bigotry with impunity. While senior functionaries in the BJP and government such as Modi, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh would endlessly talk about inclusive politics.
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) September 10, 2014
With media under control, it’s never difficult to build a favourable narrative that Modi disapproved the vicious comments made by these representatives of Hindutva idelogy.
Whether or not the BJP leaders agree, the fact remains that the current regime led by Modi has no remorse about politics of hate unleashed by leaders of BJP and other Hindu groups affiliated to RSS ideology. Testament to this has been Modi’s refusal to admonish these elements disapproving their acts publicly. Under pressure from widespread public outrage, he may have broken his silence, but always stopped short of condemning the unacceptable utterances and acts of his supporters.
In September, while commenting on the ghastly act of lynching an innocent Muslim in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri, I had said that the killers of Mohammad Akhlaq had Modi’s tacit approval. The continuing practice of bigotry by Roy and Acharya conclusively establishes my argument.
This also brings home the point that the BJP has learnt nothing from their humiliating electoral losses in Delhi and more recently in Bihar. Acharya’s comments on Saturday are also indicative of the fact that the BJP has truly begun its preparation for Assam elections. The party appears to think that communal politics and raising the issue of illegal immigrants will be enough for them to wrest Assam from Congress. By doing so, they are once again committing a mistake of underestimating the intellect of ordinary voters same as they did with the voters in Bihar.
The party thought that it could fool the voters of Bihar through its fake slogans of sabka saath, sabka vikas (inclusive growth). But its own survey indicated otherwise as there weren’t many takers to the BJP’s hollow slogans. It was clear that Modi’s inability to fulfill many of his poll promises during his 18 months of rule had left him and the BJP totally exposed to the electorates of Bihar.
Worried over the prospects of losing Bihar, the leaders who so far lay emphasis on the agenda of development went back to their old tricks- invoke communalism and fear. So, beef, reservation for minorities and Pakistan became the new dominating theme of BJP’s campaign. Amit Shah’s infamous comments on fire crackers in Pakistan was one such example. The party also did not hesitate to make a mockery of the Election Commission’s guidelines by placing communally insensitive advertisements in newspapers often in defiance of the EC’s model code of conduct.
But, as the results showed, the Bihari voters rejected the BJP’s politics of hate outright. It seemed as if Biharis had taken it upon themselves to make a statement on the growing question of India’s secular ethos. By giving a resounding victory to Nitish Kumar led Grand Alliance, Biharis, in a way, unequivocally stated that overwhelming percentage of India’s Hindus were secular and had not fallen prey to BJP’s dirty tactics.
With Bihar gone, the BJP has clearly set its eyes on Bengal and Assam, next two states scheduled to go for elections. I hope the likes of Acharya, Roy and other individuals continue to indulge in hate-mongering and utter stupidity. Their refusal to learn from Delhi and Bihar is, in a sense, good news for India. I think the saffron brigade is waiting for a complete decimation to realise that India of 2015 has no place for those who believe in hurting the age-old values of unity in diversity.
The 30 percent of the Indian electorates who voted for Modi in the Lok Sabha elections had done so not necessarily because of their approval for Hindutva ideology. As it emerges now, they had only fallen victim to Modi’s so-called idea of development. Modi’s 18 months of rule has given them enough indication that nothing, absolutely nothing, that this prime minister says should be believed.
Only, the other day I was speaking to a friend, who is leading on the smart cities project and also helping Haryana chief minister, ML Khattar, in ensuring that Karnal was selected among the first 20 cities to be developed by the central government. Listening to his story and how Modi’s idea of smart city had enthused the local population made me wonder why on earth this prime minister doesn’t capitalise on building stronger narrative of development. Even I, despite being his critic of Modi, was impressed by the story of smart city and how it was enthusing the ordinary public to engage themselves with development agenda. Only if Modi focussed less on jumlas and more on what has the potential to adorn him with the stature of a statesman! Unfortunately, he appeared to have squandered the opportunity so spectacularly.
Perhaps Modi doesn’t realise what his perceived approval of hate politics has done to his own brand. Only 18 months after we felt that he could do nothing wrong, he’s become one of the least trustworthy politicians in the country. Modi’s former friend, Ram Jethmalani, brilliantly summed it up when he said that ‘never has one man thrown away so much in such a short time.’