Pressure is mounting on Union Minister of State Home Ajay Mishra Teni. Despite the horrific incident in Lakhimpur Kheri involving his son – that saw eight people killed after being run over by a car registered in the minister's name – Teni was seemingly in full control of the narrative.
However, two successive incidents reveal that there is another side to the picture, and raise the question – Is Teni finally on his way out?
First Incident: Teni's Son Lands in a Soup
The investigating officer of the SIT constituted to probe the incident has submitted a plea in Lakhimpur's CJM court, seeking addition of fresh charges under the Indian Penal Code against Teni's son Ashish Mishra.
In his report, the investigating officer said that the Lakhimpur incident was 'not an act of negligence but a pre-planned one.'
Anyone with a remote understanding of the current state of politics in the state would agree that the SIT tightening the noose around Teni's son Ashish Mishra, the main accused in the case, has the sanction and blessing of the people in power.
This comes in tandem with the country's central leadership repealing the contentious farm laws and Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologising to the farmers.
It is more than evident that ahead of a crucial Assembly elections, BJP is trying to smoothen its ties with farmers who were agitating for the past one year.
There is palpable anger among farmers over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. Will the growing clamour for Teni's resignation again force the BJP to concede?
There is, however, radio silence among senior leaders of the BJP over the recent findings of the SIT. Has the message from the top reached the cadre that Teni should be left on his own?
BJP sources claim the party could soon distance itself from controversy surrounding Teni. Meanwhile, the Opposition is loudly raising their demand for Teni's resignation. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised the resignation demand in Lok Sabha. JD(U) leader Shravan Kumar demanded action, based on legal merit, against anyone involved in such incidents.
Second Incident: Teni Loses His Cool
Meanwhile, on 15 December, Teni got riled up over a media person's query regarding the SIT's latest report, that said that the Lakhimpur incident was premeditated.
A visibly anguished Teni not only hurled abuses but also tried to attack a media person present at a local hospital where he had gone to inaugurate an oxygen plant.
In the video, he can also be seen charging at a journalist. Later, another journalist claimed his mobile was snatched by Teni's supporters.
The incident exposes Teni's state of mind – which is under extreme pressure. The Opposition sharpened its attack after the incident. From Congress to Aam Aadmi Party, the Opposition trained its guns on PM Modi.
Political experts believe BJP would soon seek Teni's resignation.
The 2024 General Elections
"BJP is eyeing the 2024 general elections. Teni's resignation is an emotional issue for farmers. There is a dominant presence of the Sikh community in Lakhimpur Kheri and the simmering anger could adversely affect BJP's prospects in UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab," Satish Prakash, assistant professor at Meerut college said.
According to experts, after the repeal of the farm laws, BJP is trying to better its prospects in the election-bound states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab but is facing severe pushback and is at the centre of criticism due to the Lakhimpur incident.
BJP would not like to slip into a vulnerable position again by shielding MoS Teni, experts claim.