The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has chosen the path of silence in the face of disturbing hate remarks made by its MP Ramesh Bidhuri within the hallowed halls of Parliament, directed at Bahujan Samaj Party MP Danish Ali.
While it's true that the BJP has issued a show cause notice, witnessed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh apologising within the house, and even had the matter referred to the privileges committee by the Lok Sabha Speaker, these actions hardly paint a picture of genuine intent to distance itself from such reprehensible hate speech against a minority MP.
What raises eyebrows is the seemingly calculated move to entrust Bidhuri with the responsibility of overseeing Tonk district, the political stronghold of Rajasthan's Congress leader Sachin Pilot—a move that cannot be merely coincidental.
It is worth emphasising that these divisive and communal utterances were made by Bidhuri during a session where the Women's Reservation Bill was being debated and eventually passed. It unveils a deliberate juxtaposition wherein they position themselves as champions of welfare policies, all the while providing refuge to individuals who propagate hate against minority communities.
In the current juncture of our political landscape, it becomes imperative to raise significant inquiries regarding the Bharatiya Janata Party's unwavering dedication to abstain from engaging in divisive politics. In the pursuit of the grand vision of "Bharat Vishwaguru," it is imperative to acknowledge the significance of taking prompt and decisive measures against individuals such as Bidhuri, who audaciously demean minorities within the hallowed halls of Parliament.
It is disheartening to observe that, in their pursuit of electoral triumph, the BJP seems to have adopted a delicate balancing act, treading the fine line between championing welfare initiatives and placating individuals who propagate sentiments that are detrimental to minority communities.
Strategy Of Equilibrium
A distinctive and dynamic strategy of equilibrium has emerged in the grand political symphony that the BJP is conducting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. This strategy has two distinct sides, creating resonance in the hearts of Indian voters. At the forefront, the BJP's top brass unfurls the banner of development, aiming to hoist India onto the global stage as a formidable leader. They serenade the nation with promises of progress and prosperity, wooing the burgeoning middle class with their aspirational melodies.
Yet, hidden within this harmonious facade, the BJP deploys a second cadre of parliamentarians like Ramesh Bidhuri and Sadhvi Pragya, complemented by fervent party functionaries intertwined with various Hindutva outfits such as Bajrang Dal. This ensemble engages in a grassroots opera characterised by controversy, hate speech, and the fervent promotion of Hindutva ideology.
On one hand, the BJP's resonating development mantra finds favour with the upwardly mobile middle class, striking a chord of hope and promise. Simultaneously, the hardline Hindutva rhetoric caters to the core constituency of fervent Hindu nationalists, who dance to the drumbeat of religious fervor. This equilibrium strategy, akin to a well-timed pas de deux, has enabled the BJP to court support from diverse voter bases, including Dalits and OBCs in various corners of India. It's a political performance of unparalleled finesse.
At this juncture, it is crucial for the saffron party to acknowledge that the fervent Hindutva narrative has cast a looming shadow of fear and intolerance across the nation, dividing communities along religious lines. Additionally, the party's developmental overtures, while music to the ears of the affluent have left the impoverished feeling like they've been handed a discordant note.
The question that now hangs in the balance is whether the BJP's equilibrium strategy can maintain its grace in the long run. Occasionally taking stands against spokespersons like Nupur Sharma will not help the BJP because a cohesive stand is missing inside the party. The Hindutva fervour, fervently stoked, has begun to alienate India's minority communities and secular Hindus alike. Simultaneously, economic policies are crafting a yawning chasm of inequality. To sustain its hold on power, the BJP must now harmonise a new tune, one that embraces inclusivity and champions policies benefiting every Indian, not just the privileged few. This symphony, if orchestrated with precision, may well be the key to their enduring political encore.
In the intricate mosaic of Indian politics, the BJP has strategically woven a diverse leadership tapestry. This carefully crafted approach showcases figures like Shivraj Chauhan, who tread the path of subtlety, and leaders like Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who boldly champion the Hindutva persona of the party. It's a political gambit designed to cast the widest possible net among voters, positioning the BJP as a versatile force capable of governing a multifarious nation like India.
On one end of this spectrum stands Shivraj Chauhan, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. He epitomises the seasoned and sagacious leader, celebrated for his unwavering focus on development and his ability to forge meaningful connections with the grassroots electorate. Chauhan's appeal lies in his unassuming profile, a counterbalance to the party's more fervent Hindutva overtones. While the BJP's vociferous rhetoric may alienate moderate voters, Chauhan's measured approach offers them a comforting alternative.
Contrasting this is the flamboyant Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, presiding over Uttar Pradesh, who emerges as a polarising figure. Adityanath is synonymous with Hindutva ideology and a combative rhetoric that resonates deeply with Hindu nationalist voters. His popularity was a decisive factor behind the BJP's resounding triumph in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
The BJP's calculated leadership strategy is based on the understanding that, in order to win elections, the party must cast a wide electoral net. Chauhan's low-key demeanour is primed to strike a chord with moderate voters disenchanted with the party's more strident Hindutva stance, while Adityanath's resolute Hindutva posturing fervently appeals to the party's core constituency.
This multi-pronged strategy serves as a political hedge and a contingency plan should the BJP's Hindutva agenda wane in popularity. The party can readily pivot to the steadying influence of more moderate leaders, such as Chauhan. It's a gambit not without its detractors, though. The BJP's overtures have led to alienation among minorities, and even moderate Hindus are beginning to harb our doubts. Nonetheless, this strategy is poised to bolster the party's staying power in the forthcoming elections. With the electoral battleground beckoning, the BJP is actively seeking figures like Bidhuri and embracing issues such as women's reservation to further solidify its position.
BJP's Silence on Hate Speech is a Dangerous Act of Apathy
The Bharatiya Janata Party government's recent accomplishments, namely the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill and the ambitious Chandrayaan-3 mission, deserve high praise. In the realm of political discourse, it is imperative for a party to maintain a resolute stance, refusing to be complacent when confronted with provocative statements uttered by its own members. The party simply cannot afford to ignore the recent contentious statements made by Ramesh Bidhuri.
In the wake of Bidhuri's inflammatory rhetoric, a troubling undercurrent of apprehension and unease emerges. The disconcerting absence of a response from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regarding the aforementioned statements reverberates with a sense of unease. This silence, whether intentional or not, conveys an implicit message of immunity to individuals who partake in the divisive practice of minority targeting and various other manifestations of bias.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's conspicuous hesitance in denouncing Bidhuri's remarks, driven by political expediency, is a perilous display of indifference. The party's image is not only undermined but the very fabric of tolerance and inclusivity, which are vital for the strength and unity of our nation, is also eroded.
Amidst the myriad of challenges that beset our society, the litmus test for effective leadership lies not in turning a blind eye to the pernicious phenomenon of hate speech but rather in bravely and resolutely addressing it head-on. In light of recent events, it is imperative that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) take decisive action to unequivocally sever ties with Bidhuri, thereby setting a powerful precedent. The issue at hand transcends the ephemeral nature of current events, as its implications are destined to reverberate within the annals of political history and leave an indelible mark.
In this pivotal juncture, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stands at a crossroads, poised on the precipice of a decision that holds the power to not merely mould its political trajectory but also chart the course of our nation's fate. The moment of reckoning has arrived, demanding the BJP make a weighty choice—a choice that will either prioritise its self-serving political ambitions or elevate itself beyond the mire of partisanship to champion the greater good of our beloved motherland.
As the BJP contemplates its forward march, it cannot afford to underestimate the gravity of the responsibility that now rests squarely on its shoulders. The ramifications of this decision will transcend the confines of party politics, sending seismic ripples across our entire political landscape. It is a decision that will indelibly imprint itself on the annals of governance, shaping the destinies of countless citizens who yearn for visionary leadership.
In the face of hate speech—a poison that threatens to corrode the very foundations upon which the edifice of development and progress stands—silence emerges as a perilous choice. It jeopardises not only the credibility of the entity that remains mute but also undermines the bedrock principles that underpin its aspirations for a prosperous and harmonious nation. This is the juncture when the BJP's choice transcends the realm of mere political strategy; it becomes a litmus test of its fidelity to the ideals of inclusivity, tolerance, and the overarching welfare of the nation.
The decisions made in these trying times will be dissected and debated, not merely by political analysts but by every vigilant citizen who holds a stake in India's promising future. In the grand tapestry of Indian politics, the BJP now wields the brushstroke that will define its role in shaping our nation's destiny. The choices it makes today will echo through the corridors of history, etching its legacy as a beacon or a blemish on the grand canvas of our beloved India.
(The author is an independent journalist based in Kolkata and former policy research fellow at Delhi Assembly Research Center. He tweets @sayantan_gh. Views expressed are personal. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)