Damage Control for Votes

3 Min
Damage Control for Votes

By Tushar Charan

In a short span of time, the BJP has been forced to launch damage control exercises in two different towns of UP—Noida, virtually a suburb of Delhi, and the HQ of most of pro- Modi Media channels, and Kanpur. If the effort is meant to be serious, then the saffron party may have to clean its slate in many other cases. It does smack of a necessity borne out of electoral politics. BJP enjoys a massive support in Noida and, in any case, has an overwhelming presence in the UP state assembly.

The rage among the Noida complex residents erupted again when a day after the nasty incident, five or six men, said to be relatives of the man accused of foul behaviour with a woman, entered the housing complex, looking for the victim. It needs no imagination to believe that these men would have roughed up the woman had they succeeded in finding her flat. They failed in their mission because of the alert residents. 

Many must have been taken completely by surprise to discover that the Noida authorities had sent a bulldozer to pull down the encroachment by the youthful ‘Kisan’ leader from Noida in his ground floor flat in the multistoried housing complex. This was after taunts on the ‘bulldozer’ politics of UP and the failure of the ruling party to provide safety and security to women in a state now under ‘Ram Rajya’.

Hitherto, the bulldozer was used in UP to raze targeted properties. What better way than to show the ‘unbiased’ use of bulldozer power than the uprooting of illegal construction in a property owned by someone who has been alleged to be a BJP ‘leader’?  

But such efforts, laudable as they may be, do not look very convincing because of the apparent manufactured rage of the party bosses taking up the thankless task. The time for damage control should have started long time ago when mobs of BJP workers and in some cases, leaders, went on rampage with no fear of the law, selecting people for harassment, humiliation and even lynching.

A young man, whose identity as a BJP leader could hardly be hidden behind denials, used choicest expletives and pushed a woman in a ‘posh’ residential complex in Noida after she had objected to encroachment by him in front of his flat. His misfortune was that not only his coarse behaviour was captured on camera but it went viral, reaching far and wide. If some media reports are to be believed, what made it agonizing for the ruling party was that the complex where the incident took place had voted for the ruling party en bloc.  

In Kanpur, of all the persons, a minister of UP, allegedly ‘fled’ from a court with what was said to be the court’s order in which he was held guilty under the Arms Act. Of course, the minister denied that he had ‘fled’ and only left the court because he was getting late for his other engagements.  That may be true but ‘clarifications’ with loopholes from public figures after their words or actions have caused a furor have become too common.

The Noida case seemed to shake the BJP because not only it threatened to alienate a big block of voters but was also likely to turn away large number of women supporters everywhere.

The women’s panel in both UP and Delhi were quick to condemn the Noida outrage by someone who had declared himself as a BJP leader on social media with pictures with a number of BJP VIPs to confirm it. One of the posters proclaiming him as a BJP leader was released a day before the incident.

The BJP bosses denied that the man in Noida had any relation with the saffron party. The Noida MP, Dr Mahesh Sharma, a union minister in the previous NDA government, launched a big damage control-cum-PR exercise, meeting aggrieved and agitated members of the housing complex. Within the earshot of the crowd around him, he said that what had happened was a matter of shame. Working up fury, he shouted out in anger into his mobile and even used an expletive made famous by union minister Anurag Thakur to refer to the Commissioner who, he said, was resting while he was left to assuage the feelings of the residents of the housing complex.

Dr Mahesh Sharma had to convince the residents and others who heard him that as a leader of the BJP he would not stand for assault, verbal and physical, on women.

Instead of alienating some people, men or women, BJP may have to start bothering about even smaller sections of voters; for instance, the BJP is said to be keen on wooing the backward and poorer sections of Muslims.

It would have served the long-term interests of the party if it had tried to nip in the bud the display of arrogance among the workers and even leaders without any fear for the past eight years. ###