We have yet to hear even a squeak from PM Modi
Has the BJP taken leave of its senses? In fact, my second question is more pointed: why is Mr Modi silent? So what am I talking about? It's the brazenly communal statements made by senior BJP leaders in UP, writes Karan Thapar.columns Updated: Aug 31, 2014 09:12 IST
Has the BJP taken leave of its senses? And, of course, that's a rhetorical and also provocative question but then, as you will soon discover, its both justified and grounded in a disturbing, actually distressing, reality. In fact, my second question is more pointed: why is Mr Modi silent? For a prime minister who delights in tweeting and commenting frequently this is surprising, if not also worrying.
So what am I talking about? It's the brazenly communal statements made by senior BJP leaders in UP. Here are a few examples:
Clearly alluding to the state's 18% Muslim community, Laxmikant Bajpai, BJP UP president, said: "Have they got the certificate to rape girls because they belong to a particular religion?" (Indian Express, August 24).
Actually, that was not all. Giving credence to rumours spread by the social media, he added: "Youngsters should be vigilant against love jihad. Why is the government lenient to those who indulge in such practice? Have they got licence to convert the girls of majority community?" (The Hindu, August 24).
In fact, his comments went further. Talking about rape in UP, Mr Bajpai claimed "99.99% of the accused are Muslims" (Times of India, August 24). He added: "The UP government is defending love jihadis whilst their victims are murdered or harassed by the police."
Unfortunately, Mr Bajpai was not a lone voice. Kalraj Mishra, a Union minister, also spoke about love jihad (The Hindu, August 24). So clearly these are not casual comments made by insignificant men. This is deliberate and calculated BJP policy.
Now do you see why I asked my first question? These remarks stink of prejudice. They are designed to provoke communal passions and create a rift. The aim is to portray Muslims as predators and criminals whilst presenting Hindus as innocent victims.
I won't speculate why the BJP is spouting such venom — and I use that word deliberately — but it ain't difficult to guess. Even if the phrase love jihad' didn't feature in its official resolution, this is what it said: "Instances of misbehaviour with women of one section by men of one particular section, whether just coincidence or by design, is a matter of concern" (Times of India, August 25). Is that any better?
Doesn't this lead to the conclusion the BJP in UP seems like a communal party adopting blatantly anti-Muslim positions? The facts as I have presented them — and I can't find any to the contrary — point in that direction.
Which brings me to my second question: why is Mr Modi silent? How can any prime minister permit his party men — leave aside its leaders — to speak like this?
Just 16 days ago Mr Modi spoke of communal harmony, togetherness and brotherliness. He called for a 10-year moratorium on communal and caste strife. His colleagues have barely given him two weeks. Yet I haven't heard a word from the prime minister. I'm too polite to say a squeak!
To be honest, the Prime Minister's silence is inexplicable. Some would call it rank irresponsibility. But I'll go one step further. It amounts to a deliberate dereliction of his moral duty. Worse, it suggests complicity.
So what's my plea? It's simple, straightforward and very direct: Please prove me wrong, Mr Modi. Please show you meant what you said on Independence Day. India's unity is more important than the BJP's victory in UP. Now, I'm sure you'll say that's your priority. However, you need to act and behave as if you mean it.
The views expressed by the author are personal