With the election season in the country underway, Nalin Kohli, one of the prominent spokespersons of the BJP recently said that BJP President Amit Shah calling Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh “termites” and “infiltrators” was a “perfectly apt analogy”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan on the show UpFront, Kohli remarked, “A termite, essentially, and in India, we’re used to it because we do have a lot of termites, they come from the ground and they eat you up hollow from the inside… it’s a perfectly apt analogy.”
The show, titled ‘Is India’s BJP a threat to minorities’, questioned the BJP spokesperson over various issues, including the increase in communal violence, the claim of Hindu terror not existing, Pragya Thakur’s candidature from Bhopal and the idea of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
‘Mahatma Gandhi’s Assassination a Murder’
Asked whether he agreed with the ‘no Hindu terror’ claim made by PM Modi in his recent election speeches, Kohli said, “At least I have not heard of anybody using Hinduism as a religion as a basis to justify (terrorism).”
Mehdi Hasan then went on to ask him if Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, was a terrorist or not, to which Kohli responded indicating that one cannot look at every act of murder as terrorism.
Referring to Gandhi’s assassination, Kohli said:
“It’s a murder. It’s as simple. You are defining it as terror. I am looking at it as this.”Nalin Kohi, BJP spokesperson
The Pragya Thakur Controversy
With Malegaon blast accused Pragya Thakur’s candidature from the Bhopal constituency for the BJP having stirred considerable controversy, Al Jazeera asked Nalin Kohli why she has been fielded when she’s on trial for terrorism. While acknowledging that Thakur is indeed on trial, Kohli pointed out that not even an iota of evidence has been found against her.
“You can’t incarcerate a person just because you believe that she may have committed an act of terror. She didn’t…It’s as simple as that. She’s out on bail… The Supreme Court is where finally she got her bail on the basic grounds. Go read the judgment. Don’t ask me…”Nalin Kohli, BJP spokesperson
Increase in Incidents of Communal Violence?
During the course of the conversation, Al Jazeera also brought up the increase in incidents of communal violence, to which Kohli pointed towards the trend of “greater reporting” in the recent years.
“Show me a single deed of PM Modi’s government that distinguishes between a Hindu, Muslim, a Christian, Parsi, Jew, Buddhist or any other religion? Show us a scheme that is discriminatory?”Nalin Kohli, BJP spokesperson
Hindu Rashtra or Not?
When questioned if the BJP government is working towards eventually converting India into a Hindu Rashtra or a state, Kohli pointed out that India is a country where constitutionally, every religion is given equal rights.
“Muslims are as much citizens of India as Hindus are. So are Christians, so are Buddhists. So there is no denial of the fact that we are all Indian citizens first. And the Indian Constitution gives us the right… We are a country that is not theologically run. We are a country that runs on the Constitution… Pakistan runs on Islam. India runs on the Constitution.”Nalin Kohli, BJP spokesperson
Asked if he supports the call for a Hindu state, Kohli refrained from giving a direct ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer, as he stated, “That’s a 30-minute debate to understand in what context it’s used. Not to convert India into a theologically driven Hindu state. It’s not.”
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