Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda on Sunday, 17 April, claimed that the recent communal violence that erupted during processions taken out on Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti was a "conspiracy" to cause disintegration in society, and accused the Congress party of acting in the "most irresponsible" manner.
Addressing party members in Karnataka’s Hospet, Nadda said that the BJP would target the main opposition party in the run-up to the 2023 polls on the issue of dropping of cases in the state against activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI).
Nadda's accusation comes after multiple cases of stone pelting, arson, and violence erupted during Ram Navami in several cities of the country, followed by another communal clash in Delhi's Jahangirpuri on Saturday, 16 April.
'Election Results Have Jolted Some People'
Linking the violence to the results of five state Assembly polls, out of which the BJP won four, Nadda said, "The historic mandate given to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur has jolted some people. Hence, in desperation, they have associated themselves with the conspiracies of those who work to disintegrate the society. Due to this, there have been attacks on processions during Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navami," news agency PTI reported.
Speaking on the rising communal violence, he added, "You must have seen, there's an attack on the Ram Navami shobha yatra somewhere, something else at another place. This is Mr Bommai's subject, he is the chief minister, the home minister. He will certainly investigate the details of it. But on the face of it, I can say, ki yeh designed tareeke se samaj ko khandith karne ki koshish ho rahi hai (this is an attempt to split the society in a designed manner)… I am sad to say that today the Congress party is behaving in the most irresponsible manner," The Indian Express reported.
Taking aim at the Congress, the main opposition to the ruling BJP in Karnataka, Nadda said that the previous Siddaramaiah government had freed members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organisation which many BJP leaders have accused of stoking extremism and have asked for its ban.
'Prayers and Violence Unrelated': Nitish Kumar
In the meantime, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Monday, 18 April, that there was no link between prayers and violence, and that it was the duty of each community to uphold peace and avoid confrontation.
"We should have peace and harmony between communities. Each person has their own way of worshipping but we should not fight amongst ourselves - that is very important. If you believe in puja, then do puja properly. Is clashing with each other related to prayers?" NDTV reported Kumar as saying.
The chief minister made these comments while addressing the communal clashes in different states on the occasion of Ram Navami.
Kumar also added that the Bihar government was highly alert and would ensure that clashes of this nature do not take place in the state.
'Why Were Weapons Brandished?': Owaisi
Meanwhile, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi claimed that the rally in Delhi's Jahangirpuri was being carried out without due permission from the police and questioned the brandishing of weapons in a "religious rally."
"When processions like these are carried out with weapons like swords and pistols, was the police being a mute spectator? If a religious procession was being carried out, why were weapons needed? Why was provocative sloganeering being done?" Owaisi said, as quoted by ANI.
Owaisi further claimed that "one-sided action" was being taken by the police.
'Why Hasn't BJP Govt Acted Against PFI?': Congress
Meanwhile, the Congress hit back at Nadda and asked why the BJP government had not acted against the PFI.
"As far as the PFI is concerned, will JP Nadda explain what is his excuse for not acting against the PFI in the last eight years? We all know the real reason, perhaps there may be some kind of jugalbandi," Congress' communication department head Randeep Surjewala said.
Surjewala added that taking out a "shobha yatra" had been "part of the syncretic tradition" of India, and "we rarely saw communal disharmony around it."
"Today, widespread incidents are being reported from places where the BJP wants to reap political dividends, including in Karnataka, where Nadda was speaking. Doesn't he know that the BJP and its fringe elements are spewing venomous speeches and inciting violence. Why is the Prime Minister silent about it? Why doesn't Home Minister Amit Shah take action against those who are indulging in violence? They won't because it helps them keeping the country in a permanent communal frenzy," he said.
AAP Accuses BJP for Jahangirpuri Violence
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday alleged that the BJP was behind the Jahangirpuri violence and accused it of honouring goons and engineering riots.
The party's reaction came after Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta alleged that the AAP government was aiding illegal stay of Rohingya and Bangladeshi immigrants and the violence was a result of that. AAP's reaction also comes after Gupta and other BJP leaders felicitated those accused of attacking Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence.
"Seeing how the recent events have panned out, it is clear that the BJP itself is behind the violence. Adesh Gupta himself honoured and felicitated eight goons who were arrested for vandalism and hooliganism. When you yourself honour such goons you send a message to the masses that you are on the side of violence," the AAP said in a statement.
"The AAP also celebrated the Hanuman Janamotsav wholeheartedly through its Shobha Yatra in Greater Kailash that saw heartwarming interfaith bonding and respect as well as Delhi Government's Sundarkand in the Gole Market area later in the day. Why is it that such violence doesn't take place in AAP's events and only happens when BJP organises it? It is clear that the BJP is a party of goons and thugs who only care about creating violence and causing riots," the party added.
Nadda's speech also came a day after a protest over a social media post escalated into violence in Karnataka's Hubballi city, leaving police personnel injured and police property destroyed late on Saturday, 16 April.
According to local media, the youth had purportedly posted an altered picture of a saffron flag hoisted atop the mosque in Mecca. Several people from the Muslim community in the city had gathered outside the Old City police station, demanding action against the youth.
Soon, the mob grew in size, and their protests turned violent as they began to pelt stones at police personnel and the station building.
(With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express and NDTV.)