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BJP Is A Party Of Murderous Hindutva ‘Vigilantes’ And Jayant Is No Different

The fig leaf of development has fallen off. The promotion of Hindutva and the oppression and suppression of Muslims, other religious minorities and Dalits is the only agenda of this government.

Alimuddin Ansari, a coal trader, was lynched to death by a mob of “cow vigilantes” in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district, June last year. He was dragged out of his car and beaten to death because the mob “suspected” the 55-year-old was carrying beef. In March this year, a fast-track court found 11 people guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. This week, eight of these men got bail from the Jharkhand High Court. To receive them with garlands, as they left jail, was Hazaribagh MP and Union Minister for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha.

And in those five sentences is the truth of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in power at the Centre. Till four years ago, “cow vigilantes” was not a term most of us were familiar with. Now we know that these are rampaging mobs who, often with alacrity, prey on Muslims and Dalits and kill them or severely harm them, on the pretext of protecting cows, who are our “mothers”, as we have been repeatedly told by those who support such lynchings.

Lynching was a word that many of us associated with the worst of the anti-Black era of the Southern United States. Now we use it casually in conversation because we hear and see and read about it almost every day.

Those who actively and tacitly supported such mob violence, we have been barked at, are just the “fringe” of the BJP’s larger Hindutva family. They were not controlled by the BJP and they operate on their own “sentiments”. This “fringe” includes elected representatives, MLAs and MPs. Is a Union Minister and a prominent member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet a “fringe” element or has this argument run its course?

And before anyone jumps headfirst into some defence of a fast-tracked court, remember without sustained public and international pressure about stopping murderous “cow protectors”, such a token gesture would not have been made. I say token because the way our system functions, it is likely that these eight men garlanded for their commendable performance may be rewarded further.

Sinha, in fact, is clear that he has done no wrong. As social media and some of the mainstream media exploded in condemnation, the minister tweeted: “I have full faith in our judicial system and rule of law. Unfortunately, irresponsible statements are being made about my actions when all that I am doing is honouring the due process of law. Those that are innocent will be spared and those that are guilty will be appropriately punished.”

This may, at first glance, sound a bit like defensive gobbledygook with some deflection, especially in the peculiar use of the word “honour”. But that is for the gullible. What the minister is saying is quite clear. These men are his constituents. He feels that the fast track court has been too harsh on them. Therefore, he helped his constituents with legal aid and to get bail. Those who are guilty will be punished, but not, presumably these men. In fact, Sinha wants a retrial.

Who should Sinha be honourable about? The victim and what he represents or the accused, and in this case, convicted criminals? Four years of Sinha’s government have shown us that the victim, as a Muslim and a suspected cow-eater, is most likely undeserving of honour or help. Instead, the honourable minister has shown extreme graciousness and assisted those convicted for murdering the victim. These honourable men were protecting cows for which they deserve garlands at least. They are voters. For which they deserve honour. And only anti-nationals, communists, Maoists, secularists and other unmentionables would find anything objectionable in Sinha’s actions.

The fig leaf of development has fallen off as far as Sinha’s government is concerned. All that is left is what they actually started with: the promotion of Hindutva and the oppression and suppression of Muslims, other religious minorities and Dalits. That is the only agenda of this government which has had the most success. For those who continue to fool themselves that this BJP government is better than the earlier BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee because there were communal riots then and not now, those transparent blinkers are fooling no one.

The chief minister of the state where those riots happened is now prime minister. And the incidences of cow-related mob violence and lynching and terror against Muslims and Dalits has increased manifold since May 2014. Hindutva always has been the agenda of the BJP, regardless of the people in power.

Jayant Sinha and his ilk because they are well-educated and polished in speech managed to fool large swathes of the population who assumed that they think differently from cow vigilantes. Think again. Scratch the surface and you will find the same hatred of minorities, the same narrow arguments of Hindu supremacy, the same belief that the Hindutva movement was badly done by because of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Karl Marx, Chairman Mao and just about everyone except possibly Adolf Hitler.

Does this sound unduly harsh? Look around you again. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was viciously trolled by her party’s supporters because she stepped in to help a Hindu-Muslim couple who were being harangued by a passport officer. Swaraj did not do any more than uphold the laws of India. For that, she was threatened and abused by many people, followed by the prime minister no less amongst other BJP worthies. Of all her colleagues within the party, only Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh spoke out in her support.

Swaraj may have caused incalculable damage to the party’s Hindutva image. Perhaps therefore Sinha’s command performance with garlands to support convicted murderers. There may well be another more sinister reasoning at work here: to use Jayant Sinha to further humiliate his father Yashwant Sinha who has been unsparing in his criticism of the current government and his former party.

Or perhaps there is some light here: India can now see for itself who exactly the BJP represents. And decide with its eyes open this time. Vikas has gone for a long walk. But Vinaash is right here with us.

The writer is an independent journalist.

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