Another BJP leader in the eye of a storm
The BJP has ‘suspended’ a party MLA in Telangana, Thakur Raja Nawal Singh Lodh, known as T. Raja Singh, after a number of FIRs were registered against him for his remarks on the Prophet. It probably did not lead to an immediate outcry in the Muslim world but the old city of Hyderabad, which has a large Muslim population, was headed for a prolonged period of unrest and tension.
The saffron party seems to have adopted a policy that its members who make inflammatory remarks against religious figures of Muslims will be ‘suspended’ from the party when a more suitable action would be outright expulsion and unambiguous warning against such remarks, keeping in mind a world-wide furor that follows the incendiary remarks.
T. Raja Singh, a Rajasthani, has been at it for some years and seen his ‘popularity’ shoot up because of his unhesitating minority-bashing. Narendra Modi thought it fit to participate in his election campaign, acknowledging his wide popularity among the Hindutva supporters.
Not very long ago, one of the spokespersons of the BJP, Nupur Sharma, was also ‘suspended’ following her provocative and unacceptable comments on the Prophet in a TV ‘debate’. The action against her came after some reluctance, days after shrill protests in the Muslim world, with many smaller countries summoning Indian envoys to convey their anger to New Delhi.
India’s ties with the oil-rich nations in the Gulf and the Middle East were shaken because of the unreserved vitriol poured by Nupur Sharma. Terror groups outside India are said to be ready to launch attacks on India. All that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invested in establishing stronger ties with the Muslim world appeared to be in danger of being undone. India’s image as a ‘secular’ nation, has taken another beating.
A lot of support has come to Nupur Sharma, and now T. Raja Singh, after their suspension from the BJP, obviously from supporters and members of the BJP. But there have also been questions about why they were not thrown out of the party. The answer is clear: The massive support for the two BJP members forced the BJP that a harsher punishment like expulsion could checkmate the rise of such ‘popular’ figures leaving an adverse impact on the prospects of the saffron party.
The avenue for their return to the party fold is open except that T. Raja Singh has revived a wound that the BJP thought was healing rapidly. Friendly vibes were again travelling from and to New Delhi from the rich Gulf and Middle Eastern countries before Raja Singh queered the pitch.
The BJP needs to show a little more alacrity in dealing with Nupur Sharmas and Raja Singhs within its fold—and there is no dearth of such elements. The BJP thinks it has been able to escape heavy damage from the utterances of ‘fringe elements’ by disowning them. The fact is that the party could not make a convincing case in its defence because the ‘fringe’ elements appear to be part of the mainstream and, in fact, darlings of the saffron followers.
Many of the ‘fringe elements’ have been repeat offenders. The Raja Singh case coincided with a video gone viral on the social media of a former BJP MLA from Alwar (Rajasthan) who boasted of killing those he accused of trading in beef. He had made similar boorish claims previously also without attracting any action from his party leaders. There are many such cases, including one that was reported soon after the Modi regime came to power when a self-styled defender of the Hindus had released a video showing him killing a Muslim in Udaipur. Since the man did not have a position in the party, the police were able to move into action and arrested him.
The overlooking of criminal and inhuman acts committed by those who profess allegiance to the BJP, in the past seven or eight years has led many to believe that doing or saying anything against a minority community will be condoned.
Recall the occasion when a union minister in the previous NDA government garlanded and distributed seats to men who were convicted on serious charges only because they were part of the Sangh Parivar.
Another minister in the previous NDA government draped the body of one of the accused in a case of lynching a Muslim. He was paying tributes to a party man after he had died a natural death. The ministers in both cases publicly justified their acts and criticised their critics.
It is a coincidence that both these former ministers have not been given a berth in the present council of ministers. But be sure it is not because of what they did to show their ‘commitment’ to the Hindutva cause; it is part of BJP’s internal politics.
The BJP was placed in a very awkward position when some of its members were seen and heard felicitating and distributing sweets to convicts in rape and murder cases in Gujarat after the state government had granted them remission. The very shrill defenders of ‘women power’ in the party fell silent, embarrassed by the fact that the sweet distribution ceremony had followed just after Prime Minister had spoken about women’s empowerment and respect from the ramparts of the Red Fort. ###
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