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BJP’s Arrogance

BJP’s Arrogance

Dilip Ghosh was in the news recently when he said that those opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) should be shot like dogs. It caused revulsion all over the country. Many thought that his career as President of the West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was sealed. What he said was reprehensible not only from a human point of view but also from a canine point of view.

Let’s leave the human aspect for a while. Why did he use the metaphor of the dogs? Did he think that dogs were meant to be shot? Did he know the story of a dog who accompanied Yudhishthira, the eldest son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti and the king of Indraprastha and, later, of Hastinapura? He was the leader of the successful Pandava side in the Kurukshetra War.

After the war, Yudhishthira was the first to get entry into Heaven. He had a choice — he could enter Heaven alone or remain outside with his constant canine companion. He preferred to keep the dog with him, rather than enter heaven alone. The Gods were merely testing him. When he stood his ground, Yudhishthira was allowed to enter Heaven with his dog.

Dogs have remained man’s best friend. Even the street dogs play a major role. They are the ones who provide protection to shops and households at night. For every burglary that happens at night, there are several which are thwarted by the timely barking of the dogs. Alas, we do not notice them. We read only about dogs attacking man but not about dogs protecting him.

It is such an animal that Dilip Ghosh thinks should be shot. Instead of reprimanding him for his statement, he was elected unopposed for another term of three years. In the speech he made after the unanimous election, he indulged in such hyperbole that I thought he could be Narendra Modi’s successor. He personally took credit for converting the BJP into a formidable force in West Bengal.

Now I realise that it was with a purpose that he made the statement. In the BJP, it is those who use such horrible language, who are given coveted positions. The “harder” you are, the better your chances to come up in the party.

Once I wrote that the BJP was a party of moderates. AB Vajpayee, who was the party chief at that time, was a moderate compared to LK Advani, who was a moderate compared to Uma Bharati, who was a moderate compared to Yogi Adityanath, who was a moderate compared to Pravin Togadia and so on.

Now, after gaining power, the BJP has become a party of hardliners. Amit Shah is a hardliner compared to Narendra Modi. Yogi Adityanath is a hardliner compared to Shah. Dilip Ghosh is a hardliner compared to Yogi Adityanath. Pragya Singh Thakur is a hardliner compared to Dilip Ghosh. I refrain from listing more names for fear of running out of space.

Thus the BJP has undergone a transformation from a party of moderates to a party of hardliners. If Ghosh suggested shooting down all those who oppose the CAA, a party leader in Uttar Pradesh suggested that they be buried alive. Actually, what he said is more practical. All those who are shot will have to be buried because the BJP leaders would not be able to stand the stench of rotting bodies.

So if they are buried alive, the party would be able to save at least the bullets. Between the two options, the UP leader’s lent itself greater credence. Home Minister Amit Shah has also come out with his own solution. As he is home minister, he wants to provide all those who oppose the CAA a home in jails. To put it differently, he wants all of them to be jailed. He will have to build jails everywhere or declare areas like the “Union Territory of Kashmir” as extended jails.

Who are those who oppose the CAA? The BJP has one lone MLA in Kerala. He is O. Rajagopal, who got elected from a constituency in Thiruvananthapuram after contesting unsuccessfully from several constituencies. 

When the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution opposing the CAA, which strikes at the root of India’s secular credentials, Rajagopal did not ask for a division of votes. He is a lawyer by profession and he knows parliamentary proceedings pretty well as he had served six years as a member of the Rajya Sabha and as Union Minister. In effect, he supported the resolution!

Will Shah send the venerable BJP leader in Kerala to jail? The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance headed by the BJP. It supported the CAA when it was presented in Parliament. On Friday, the SAD supported the resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly opposing the CAA. Now, will Shah send Parkash Singh Badal and his whole clan, including a Union minister, to jail for opposing CAA?

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already stated his opposition to the CAA, though his JDU supported the Bill in Parliament. The JDU has decided to go to polls under Kumar’s leadership. Will Shah send him to jail? The fact of the matter is that the CAB was not discussed properly in Parliament and many members did not know its dangerous provisions and implications.

Of course, Modi and Shah knew this. That is why it was introduced in a hurried manner with President Ramnath Kovind more than willing to hasten the process. Be that as it may, there is a fundamental issue that needs to be discussed. That is the manner in which the BJP has been dealing with political issues.

Article 370 was a part of the Constitution but that did not prevent the BJP from protesting against it all through its life. Now when people protest against the CAA, the same BJP leaders say that they have no right to question a law enacted by Parliament. Nobody called the BJP leaders anti-nationals when they campaigned against Article 370 but they call everyone who opposes the CAA “anti-national”.

They have sent a man to Thiruvananthapuram as Governor. He has been tying himself in knots while defending the CAA, as if it gave him the birthright. When Kerala passed a resolution, they opposed it tooth and nail. There are many laws enacted by the Centre which Gujarat did not implement when it was led by Narendra Modi.

Modi might have convened a midnight session of Parliament to unveil the Goods and Services Tax regimen but it was he who opposed it when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government tried to rationalise the tax structure and implement a one price-one tax policy. Similarly, the BJP was opposed to Aadhar when the UPA tried to introduce it. Nobody called the BJP leaders anti-nationals or urban Naxals at that time.

The other day, I heard Shah recalling the “thukde thukde” slogan, allegedly shouted by some JNU students. Till the time of writing, it has not been proved who uttered the obnoxious slogan. Was it by the JNU students or by agent provocateurs or by the Fifth Columnists? Were they arrested and produced before a court and punished? Who was in power when the alleged incident happened?

It was none other than Modi. Instead of taking action, he, Shah and others of the party have been going to town repeating the slogan. What purpose does it serve? Modi has a foreign minister, who on retirement as foreign secretary joined the BJP and was sworn in as a minister. This gentleman was from JNU. 

Many JNUites thought that he would come out in support of the agitating JNU students but, instead, he issued a statement referring to the “thukde thukde” slogan. Nobody in JNU or anywhere wants the country to be divided. It is the BJP which is dividing the people on communal lines. When it has no answer to some questions, it will question your patriotism and it may even ask you to go to Pakistan.

Demonising the Muslims is not something new. They have been at it since ages. We all know the case of Afzal Guru. He was hanged in Tihar Jail for his alleged involvement in the attack on Parliament. He had made one statement that he was in Delhi on the suggestion of a Jammu and Kashmir  police officer. He was Devinder Singh.

Singh was arrested on Saturday last with three “militants”. The police officer was decorated with a gallantry award by the J&K government during the Independence Day celebration in 2018. Now reports appear that he has three big houses, including in Chandigarh. How did he acquire such property by being just a DSP? Why was his role in Parliament attack not investigated? Did he play any role in Pulwama? To ask such questions is to be branded a Pakistani.

A few days back, half a dozen Naval personnel were arrested, allegedly for spying for Pakistan. They were all from various parts of the country. Not one of them was a Muslim. I won’t say that they were Hindus either, because criminals have only one religion and that is crime. Similarly, a spy has only one religion and that is money. For money, he will betray anyone, including his own nation as Ravan’s brother did.

The point to be noted is that a nation is more than a geographical entity. It is a collection of people who live together. It is not right to deny citizenship to people who have been living in this country for decades just because they profess a faith which is as much Indian as it is Asian. 

That is why people, irrespective of religion and caste, have come forward to oppose the CAA. They know that a nation which is not safe for Muslims will not be safe for Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, liberals and the democratic-minded, who do not want any Sarsanghchalak to rule India.

In India, leaders have come and gone. There have been an array of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Gulzarilal Nanda, Morarji Desai, PV Narasimha Rao, VP Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar, IK Gujral, H.D. Deve Gowda, Manmohan Singh and AB Vajpayee, who held the post of Prime Minister.

They never considered power as their preserve. They knew that they were there for a limited period, after which they would have to return to where they came from. Nobody knows why Modi and Shah think that they are in power for perpetuity. 

Israel may be the Modi government’s closest ally. Modi and Shah should remember that it was the same Jews whom Hitler sent to gas chambers who created the present state of Israel. It was persecution during the first three centuries which strengthened the Christians, enabling them to emerge as a mighty force.

It is a pity that the BJP does not see the writings on the wall. The loss of Maharashtra and Jharkhand will soon be repeated in Delhi where Arvind Kejriwal is set to return to power. In Modi’s own Varanasi constituency, the NSUI, affiliated to the Congress, swept the poll, leaving not a single seat to the ABVP.

Five years ago when the BJP was reduced to a three-member party in Delhi, Modi said Delhi was one of the many cities in India. He can say that Sampurnanand Sanskrit University in Varanasi is one of the hundreds of universities in India. Modi and Shah should remember that such results are  straws in the wind. Those who are sensible know how warnings come and they act accordingly.

Yes, the BJP has every right to be in power and to take the country to glorious heights by providing employment and a sense of security to one and all. But if it thinks that the 35 per cent votes it got give them the eternal right to reduce minorities of all hues and persuasions to second-class citizens, it is sadly mistaken. 

Why only minorities? Even the majority Hindu community would never tolerate such fascist ideas, even if they are sugarcoated with Hindutva. Let there be no mistaking about it.

( ajphilip@gmail.com)

(Published on 20th January 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 04)