- Anurag Thakur was only following his leader, the powerful Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has emerged as the face of the BJP’s election campaign in Delhi repeatedly exhorting voters to press the EVM button with such anger that the current is felt in Shaheen Bagh, where a group of women have been protesting against the CAA.
- Leaving nothing to chance, the BJP is now getting a whistle-stop campaign done by Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, widely recognised for his mastery of hate speech.
Anurag Thakur is a BJP dynast and junior Minister of Finance in the Narendra Modi government. He last week led a public meeting of the BJP for the upcoming Delhi elections where he said: “Desh ke gaddaron koh goli maro salo koh (traitors should be shot dead).”
This was unambiguous hate speech and incitement, which should immediately have ensured severe punishment for Thakur, one of the most arrogant leaders of a party, which has made othering the minorities a fine art.
Hate has consequences. Following Thakur’s incendiary speech, a young man who identified himself as “Ram bhakt” Gopal Sharma fired a gun into the beleaguered students of Jamia-e-Milia Islamia while a substantial presence of Delhi Police watched.
Yes let me repeat it. Watched. Following the firing, they leisurely caught up with him. The boy injured in the firing was forced to jump over the police barricades to get medical help. And, an editor, yes let me repeat an editor, put out an anguished tweet about the “damage to the barricades”.
Two days after Ram bhakt Gopal Sharma opened fire on protesters, a similar incident happened on Saturday as another man fired bullets in the air, in the Shaheen Bagh area. Police have detained the man. The man has been identified as Kapil. Witnesses said he shouted "Hindu Rashtra Zindabad" and fired two rounds. In a video, the shooter can be heard saying: "Iss desh mein kisi ki nahin chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi. (In this country, no one but Hindus can have their say)."
This pretty much sums up the situation in India currently with the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests going on in the country. Modi ministers indulge in incitement and the embedded media bemoan the fate of broken barricades.
Follow the leader
Anurag Thakur was only following his leader, the powerful Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has emerged as the face of the BJP’s election campaign in Delhi repeatedly exhorting voters to press the EVM button with such anger that the current is felt in Shaheen Bagh, where a group of women have been protesting against the CAA.
Leaving nothing to chance, the BJP is now getting a whistle-stop campaign done by Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, widely recognised for his mastery of hate speech.
So the Delhi election is now truly Shah versus Shaheen Bagh. The important thing is not that the BJP is indulging in an extreme campaign of communalism, but that this extreme communalisation is the only campaign. This holds true for Delhi and later for the Bihar elections due in November this year and West Bengal elections scheduled for next year.
Under Modi and Shah, the BJP has unapologetically decided on a campaign what is weirdly described as “polarisation” by the Indian commentariat, but which truly means dehumanising the minorities and taking away their Constitutional rights.
Sample Shah’s description of immigrants as “deemak” (termites). Modi says in coded Hindutva speech “recognise them by their clothes”. This “us” versus “them” is the entire ideology of the Sangh Parivar, the BJP’s mothership.
You cannot apply the normal filters of political analysis to the phenomenon of the Sangh’s politics as we repeatedly do. Recall Ivy League minister, Jayant Sinha in Modi’s last Cabinet, garlanding alleged lynchers.
So why the horror at Thakur?
The only thing the BJP does now is a calibration of the drip feed of hate. Yet we put the onus on Shaheen Bagh to back off and not allow the much vaunted “polarisation” that Shah seeks. If it were not Shaheen Bagh, it would be something else, a communal straw man conveniently created for Shah to batter down.
To know something, you have to name it.
Campaign of hate
Let us stop all the apologetic excuses and identify what the BJP currently stands for. The BJP stands for a permanent mobilisation of the Hindus against the minorities. It is an explicit trade-off: we may not be able to give you “vikas” (development) and Modi’s catch phase “acche din” (good days), but we will provide you a visceral masculine venting of hate against imagined historical persecution.
Violence is inherent to this.
As we see in the humiliation of Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state in India, with the repeal of Article 370 (stripping away of Kashmir’s special status in the Indian union), and downgrading of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to a Union territory. The glee with which a picture of former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, now under arrest for six months with an unkempt grey beard was mocked. The fact that there are no charges against Abdullah is not even remotely relevant. Official BJP handles made fun of Abdullah offering to send a razor.
Read more from Swati Chaturvedi
- CAA-NRC protests: Why is Narendra Modi so obsessed with Pakistan?
- From achhe din to ‘Sit down Uncle’, unraveling the Narendra Modi myth and hype
- Davinder Singh: An asset of India’s deep state gone rogue? Will Narendra Modi play silent again?
- Sign of the times: Women power frightens the medieval monk Yogi Adityanath
The Supreme Court’s verdict allowing the construction of a Ram temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid held no potential to up the violent ante. After all, how many times will you cash the same cheque?
So a new Hindutva project was found with the CAA which gives a religious filter to citizenship and its bigoted twin the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The potential for violence and hate is unlimited. It is an aggressive move, vintage Shah which seeks to deny agency and citizenship to a section of Indians. It does not matter to those fed on the steroid of hate that it is the poorest most dispossessed Indians who are being targeted.
So yes let us call it what it is.
A campaign of hate against the weakest Indians. The BJP is a bully, picking on someone tiny. Don’t pretend otherwise. And this harvest of hate is a permanent project.