This is an albatross round the BJP’s neck that it needs to jettison double quick. We mean the motley crew of self-styled Hindutva proponents who have done nothing by embarrass the party with extreme and unacceptable pronouncements. The BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi have rightly understood that the Indian voter will, by and large, cast his or her lot in with a moderate and secular political party. This is what the BJP has been trying to project itself as, putting behind some unfortunate episodes in its past. But the latest salvo allegedly from Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia has once again put the onus on the BJP to disassociate itself from his remarks. In a bid to make himself relevant, Mr Togadia has reportedly asked his followers to drive out a Muslim businessman who has purchased a house in Rajkot by confronting him with stones, tyres and tomatoes. Mr Togadia apparently assured his supporters that “there is nothing wrong in it. Killers of Rajiv Gandhi have not been hanged…there is nothing to fear.” Mr Togadia has subsequently denied having said all this.
Then we have Bihar BJP leader Giriraj Singh saying that those who do not vote for Mr Modi should go to Pakistan and that they would be considered traitors. There have been calls to expel him, but he should have been shown the door the minute he made these remarks. The RSS, which is in the vanguard of the BJP’s efforts to gain power, has urged the majority community to vote in strength, hinting that to do otherwise would amount to encouraging minority appeasement.
While it is true that none of these have the sanction of the BJP, all these organisations are part of the right wing Hindutva lobby. The BJP should have made it clear at the very outset that no one, but its authorised spokespersons, can speak on its behalf or with the misplaced notion that such remarks will help it. If, however, the likes of these hatemongers cannot be contained, then the BJP leadership at the highest level should roundly and publicly condemn these divisive tactics. Mr Modi and the top BJP leaders have scrupulously avoided raising religion as this is an issue which is misused to stoke sectarian passions. The BJP president, Rajnath Singh, has time and again sought the help of the Muslims in these elections with assurances that they will not be targeted in any manner. The same goes for other minorities. Yet, the BJP is being tarred with the same brush as the VHP and other fringe organisations that claim to speak for all Hindus.
Now is the time for the BJP as the party which was once the ruling party, and which aspires to be that again, to firmly distance itself from these elements and take action against those in its ranks who are giving it a bad name.