A dangerous threat

A BJP Yuba Morcha leader of Uttar Pradesh, Yogesh Varshneya, has announced a reward of Rs. 11 lakhs to anyone who can behead the West Bengal Chief Minister Mama Banerjee. Both Houses of Parliament saw an angry storm of protest over it. The response of the BJP was lukewarm. The ministers and other spokespersons of the party said they did not support what Varshney had said. Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the West Bengal Government was free to take action against Varshney. He volunteered the information that Varshney had been expelled from the party two years ago. But he did not explain what prevented the Yogi Adityanath Government of UP from arresting the Yuva Morcha leader and starting suo motu criminal proceedings against him for his open incitement to murder.
What the BJP youth leader said reflects the mentality of the Sangh Parivar to its political opponents – a mentality that has no place in a democratic, law-abiding polity. A political party cannot enjoy the rights and privileges of a democratic country, contest elections and form governments and at the same time allow the leader of one of its outfits to issue death threats. What would have happened if someone from any of the Opposition parties or one of their outfits had issued a death threat to a prominent leader of the BJP and later tried to wash its hands off by saying that the person concerned had already been expelled? Would the BJP have kept quiet after such an ‘explanation’? Certainly not. And that would be quite natural. In the case of Varsheny the BJP’s reaction is defensive and exculpatory, rather than one of indignation and outrage.
It is difficult to understand why a political party which is winning one election after another should resort to such blatantly anti-democratic and intolerant threats to its political rivals. The BJP is doing well all over India, including West Bengal. In the Kanthi South constituency by-poll, the BJP has come up second having polled 52,843 votes against the winning Trinamool Congress candidate’s 95,369. The Left Front supported CPI candidate polled 17,423 and the Congress candidate a mere 2,270 votes. Both lost their deposits. In such a situation where is the need to issue threats of liquidation of leaders of rival parties? The BJP is creating precedents that are totally unacceptable in a democracy. In the long run, it will harm rather than help the party.

Friday, 14 April, 2017