The PM visited Muzaffarngar yesterday along with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The BJP promptly called it “secular” tourism. The BJP is good at wisecracks, but if it were to pause and look back at its repeated double-speak and deceit on Muzaffarnagar, it would be shocked. Here are some things that the BJP may want to think about:
What happened to Federalism: Forever, the BJP has argued that law and order is a state subject, and the center must do nothing to enter this domain. In fact, this argument has been used repeatedly to scuttle the creation of the NCTC, and god forbid, if another terrorist attack happens, which could have been prevented had the NCTC been there, then the BJP must be held responsible for it. The center was sensitive about the concept of federalism even when fake encounters were happening in Gujarat. It was only when the courts decided to move the cases outside the state, when Gujarat’s fake façade of federalism was shattered.
So why does the BJP suddenly blame the Congress for the Muzaffarnagar riots? The center had warned 11 states including UP about a possible communal incidents. Isn’t it the UP government’s fault that it did nothing with the information? But one BJP leader screamed that the Center should have sent forces earlier. If I remember right, the center sent forces as soon as the state asked for them. It’s sending even more forces now. As if this was not enough, the party President Rajnath Singh demanded that the Congress sack the UP government and impose President’s rule. Impose President’s rule? Maybe yes, but how does this fly in the face of the BJP’s federalism argument?
Every issue, every point of view, of the BJP smacks of opportunism and nothing else. Federalism was a bogey that was well known since earlier; its only becoming more clear with every passing day.
Abusing the PM’s visit: The PM, Sonia and Rahul went to Muzaffarnagar after the situation had calmed down. They didn’t rush there the day the violence broke, like Ravi Shankar Prasad did (thank god he was denied permission, or the toll could have been higher). Or like Aruj Jaitley did when the Kishtwar riots broke. The PM was mindful of the fact that the state government needed time to get the situation under control. Has the BJP ever been this mindful? Besides, if the PM had not gone, wouldn’t the same BJP have chided the Congress for being insensitive?
In any case, what did the PM say, apart from the usual reassuring statements, that got the BJP to call his trip secular tourism? “Efforts will be made to ensure the strictest action be taken against those behind the communal violence” and “people behind such ghastly violence would be punished and all help extended to the UP government” are the kind of statements a PM is expected to make under such circumstances. But maybe the BJP doesn’t understand decency too much.
Uttering blatant lies on TV: Last night (on NDTV), the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi had to beat a hasty retreat after she tried to lie about the BJP MLAs who had been named in the FIRs. She said they had only been named for violating prohibitory orders, not for inciting violence. She would have got away (as happens often on TV), had the SP’s representative Gaurav Bhatia, not pointed out that the charges included giving a provocative speech at the Mahapanchayat, and of sharing an inflammatory video. As soon as she was corrected, Lekhi quickly moved on to another argument. Had she not been caught, she would have gotten away. Why does the BJP conduct itself in such a manner?
Unashamedly communal: As is its wont, the BJP is being unashamedly communal about the entire episode. Rather than trying to calm the situation, the BJP is fanning trouble. As per media reports, the party was planning a rally by Narendra Modi in Muzaffarnagar. Now, if this isn’t plain, naked, dirty communal politics, what is? We know the only think Modi can speak about is aggressive Hinduism and Muslim bashing. His mere presence will charge the atmosphere a few notches higher.
The BJP had also planned a “swabhimaan” rally with Advani and the abusive Varun Gandhi. It was canceled because the state didn’t give permission, and perhaps because of all the tension around Advani’s opposition to Modi. But why was it called Swabhimaan (self respect) at all? Whose swabhimaan? Why swabhimaan?
But forget even this. Just look at Subramaniam Swamy’s tweet and decide for yourself if this is acceptable from a national party? “Did TDK (that’s Subramaniam Swamy’s way of referring to/abusing Sonia Gandhi) visit in Muzaffarnagar only Muslim riot affected houses? That’s what Jats tell me” can only be called evil. Incidentally, this also happens to be a lie, but that’s seldom mattered to the BJP.
For the BJP, any communal tension at this point of time is a god-sent. It pushes the party’s Hindutva agenda. It helps position Narendra Modi with the Hindus. It makes Hindus worry about their religion, and makes them bury other differences and aggregate around religion (as happened after the Babri demolition). Media reports from UP indicate that the biggest loser in this conflagration could be the RLD, with Jats likely to migrate to the BJP (exactly what the BJP wanted). By sending Amit Shah to UP, this is what the whole plan was, wasn’t it? So while it cannot be proved the BJP was involved in the Muzaffarnagar riots, the beneficiary of the riots is clearly the BJP. In the past, the BJP has used this “whoever benefits, must be involved” logic to attack the Congress….so why should the same not apply to it now?
The real truth is that the BJP’s actions post-Muzaffarnagar are in line with its election strategy. Escalate communal tensions, make fiery speeches, attack everyone, and make Hindutva the core issue. If this is the path the BJP is taking to get to the 272 mark, that speaks volumes about its fundamental character. It does indeed have the RSS’s genes….