The violent drama that took place in Indore city, the main character of which is Akash Vijayvargiya, the son of Kailash Vijayvargiya, senior BJP leader, has once again proved that the BJP is a party with a difference. The leadership of the party not only tolerates the violence perpetrated by its cadres, but the leaders themselves indulge in violence.
On 26th June, Akash Vijayvargiya, who is the MLA of Indore 3 Assembly segment, thrashed a Municipal Corporation officer with a cricket bat. The video of the incident went viral. Later a case was filed against him and he was produced in the court. The court sent him to jail up to July 11. A law maker became a law breaker, indulging in violence in the public.
On June 26, Zonal Officer, Dhirendra Vyas and Building Officer, Aseeth Khare, had gone to demolish a dilapidated building in the Ganji Compound area of the city which comes under the constituency of Akash Vijayvargiya. When the workers of the Municipal Corporation reached the spot for demolition, Akash Vijayvargiya and his supporters had heated argument with them. The officers tried to make him understand that the building was in very bad condition and if it was not demolished it might collapse during the rainy season and cause damage to the life of many people. But Akash wanted to show that he stood with the local people and started beating the officer with a cricket bat that he had carried with him. It is a sad story that the police officers who were present on the spot failed to provide security to the municipality official. About 25 workers of the Municipal Corporation also joined the crowd that attacked their officers. Later they were suspended from the job by the Municipal Commissioner.
Only when the workers of the Municipal Corporation threatened to go for strike, the police officers filed First Information Report (FIR) against Akash; he was produced in the court. The judge who heard the case refused to grant him bail. He said that a lawmaker has no right to take law into his hands. Thus the son of one of the most powerful BJP leaders of Madhya Pradesh was sent to jail at least for a few days for the violence he committed. The political leaders often indulge in crime and resort to violence, thinking that they would be able to escape from punishment because of their influence and power. The statement of Akash is highly condemnable. He says, “First request, then supplication and thereafter thrashing. This is our line of action”. He had threatened the civic officials of dire consequences. Taking law into their hands and indulging in violence have been a practice of the extremist groups within the Sangh Parivar.
Akash was released from the jail on bail on June 29. It was reported in the media that he did not regret thrashing the municipal official. “I am not guilty or embarrassed about what I did, as it was in the public interest, ANI quoted him saying. “A woman was being dragged brutally in front of the police and I couldn’t think of doing anything else ... I pray to god I am not compelled to pick up the bat again.”
At a meeting of the Parliamentary party on July 2 PM Modi disapproved the conduct of Akash Vijayvargia of thrashing a municipal officer. According to the media reports, Modi said that he did not care whose son was behind the incident; it was completely unwarranted and not acceptable. He urged the party’s lawmakers not to take law into their hands. He also said that action should be taken against such law breakers. The stand of the PM is to be appreciated and it can instil some fear in the hooligans who take law into their hands, thinking that the government would approve all their wanton actions. The people of this country are looking forward to the action to be taken on Akash Vijayvargia and his supporters who welcomed him with gun shots after his release from the jail.
The BJP often accuses the Marxist party in Kerala and the TMC in West Bengal of using violence. The BJP doesn’t realize that it is also following the route of violence to capture power and remaining in power. Violence will beget only violence. The party tolerates violence perpetrated by the so called “fringe elements” on the minorities, particularly the Muslims through lynching. One of its former Union Ministers garlanded the cow vigilantes who killed an innocent Muslim, when they came out of jail on bail.
Regarding the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in the Saraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand, PM Modi said in the Rajya Sabha on June 25 that the incident “pained” him. “It has saddened others too. The guilty should get severest punishment, but for this the entire state has been pronounced guilty and everyone put in dock which is not right”, he said.
Ansari, a Muslim youth, accused of stealing a motorcycle, was beaten up by a mob for about 12 hours and a video showed that he was purportedly made to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’. He later died. The police also played a prominent role in killing Ansari by not providing him proper medical care in time and keeping him in the police custody without verifying the truth about the accusation made by the crowd.
In most of the lynching cases the police are also accomplice because of the dereliction of their duty. The PM should have condemned outright the incident and he should have given a stern warning to the members of the Sangh Parivar that anyone indulging in lynching will not be spared. Unless and until he takes stern steps to stop lynching, the people of this country will find difficult to believe his appeal to win the confidence of the minorities. During the three months prior to the Lok Sabha election no incident of lynching was reported, but after the massive victory of the BJP in the election, lynching started. This clearly indicates that lynching is no spontaneous outburst of anger, but a well planned strategy. It also shows how hatred has percolated deep into the grassroots.
By fielding Pragya Singh, a terror accused, as its candidate in Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency the BJP wanted to prove that a Hindu cannot indulge in terrorist activities, even though he/or she is charge sheeted in a bomb blast case. It wanted to protect a terror accused, before the court pronounces its verdict. In fact, it was an indirect attempt to send a message that those who indulge in violence against the minorities will not only be protected but also be rewarded.
This kind of strategy may pay dividends in the short run, but in the long run it will be disastrous both for the party and the nation. Condoning violence against the minorities by the party encouraged its MLA, Akash Vijayavargiya, to thrash a government official in the full view of the public. The official was beaten up for fulfilling his duty. What a shameless act of violence? If the officers are threatened and beaten up for performing their duty what will be the future of governance? Is this the good governance promised by the BJP and PM Narendra Modi?
The first time MP, Mahua Moitra, in her maiden speech in the parliament on June 26 castigated the Narendra Modi government, accusing it of becoming fascist. She explained briefly in her fiery speech seven early signs of fascism and how the BJP government at the centre is showing the seven signs of fascism through its actions and policies.
One of them is disdain for human right by the government. According to her, the government’s contempt for human rights is reflected in its failure to stop lynching human beings. "There is a ten-fold increase in the number of hate crimes from 2014 to 2019. It is like a valuation of an e-commerce start up. There are forces in this country who are sitting there, just pushing these numbers up," Moitra said. Beating up a government servant while performing his duty is a violation of human rights and the attempts of the BJP leaders in Madhya Pradesh to justify the criminal act of its MLA is nothing but an arrogant expression of the party’s disdain for human rights.
The other signs of fascism, which Moitra pointed out in her speech, are Nationalism searing into national fabric, subjugation and control of mass media, obsession with national security, religion and Government intertwined in the country, disdain for intellectuals and the arts and erosion of independence in electoral system. The shameless glorification of the criminal act of Akash Vijayavargiya by the BJP by putting up posters, “Salute Akashji” is a sign of fascism.
In a democracy the citizens are the masters and the elected representatives and government employees are the servants of the people, although often the elected representatives act as if they are masters. If democracy is to be functional in letter and spirit, the citizens have a great responsibility of making the elected representative and the government accountable through their criticism and protest.
Eternal vigilance is the price the citizens have to pay in a democracy. Otherwise democracy can slide into fascism. If the citizens are not able to protest against the criminal act of their elected representatives, it is due to the lack of critical thinking. The fascist leaders often try to brainwash people with populist ideologies. If democracy is not to slip into fascism, people have to think critically and make the elected representatives accountable through their criticism. Education has a great role in developing critical thinking in the students. It is the failure of the education that people are being easily brainwashed and support who indulge in violence and crime.
(Published on 08th July 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 28)