There seems to be a serious disconnect between the actions of some of the BJP and RSS cadre and the sentiments of the prime minister. On more than one occasion, Narendra Modi has spoken of his inclusive vision, he has said that Indian Muslims will die for their country, that they will have no truck with subversive elements.
His views were very clearly articulated on several platforms including his interview with journalist Fareed Zakaria on CNN. But, his message seems lost on some of the rank and file in Uttar Pradesh. There are reports that the BJP’s Amroha unit has decided to felicitate 63 party workers who were jailed after the July 4 riots in Moradabad, on Sunday. Several RSS office-bearers are expected to be present at the felicitation of the workers who were released on bail on September 26. This is clearly an attempt by misguided elements who think that this will be a morale booster for party workers who were booked for rioting, attempt to murder, causing hurt, unlawful assembly, and damaging public and railway property. This sends a very wrong signal and it must be roundly condemned by the leadership.
The recent Vadodara riots also seem to be an attempt to keep communal tensions alive. Clashes took place in the city when a teacher posted an offensive photograph on social media. Even though the district administration and the police managed to control the situation in time, questions have been raised on the role of party workers in the violence. Residents of both communities have also accused the police of targeting the wrong people and being clueless about the real perpetrators.
Such haphazard arrests will only deepen distrust among different communities and also raise a question on the police’s work ethic.
Mr Modi has said on several occasions that he wants to take the country forward. So it becomes imperative that the party’s workers in various parts of the country understand that this sort of violence casts a blot on the intentions of the party. Peace is a key ingredient for meeting development goals and many like George Soros believe that development targets should now start to involve not just access to education, healthcare, clean water and other vital services but also access to [political and social] justice. This is a challenge which India cannot fail if we are to move ahead at the pace which Mr Modi envisages.