The Telegraph
Thursday , November 5 , 2015
 
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Prime Minister, which face will your party show today?

- Bad cop, good cop, BJP-style

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to meet Guinea President Alpha Conde at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on October 28. (PTI)

TUESDAY EVENING

Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP general secretary: Shah Rukh lives in India but his soul is in Pakistan.... If this (the actor’s comments on intolerance) is not anti-national, what is?

Prakash Javadekar, central minister and BJP leader: I condemn his (Vijayvargiya’s) comments outright. He is not an authorised spokesperson.

WEDNESDAY MORNING

Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP general secretary: My five tweets were misunderstood. I did not intend to hurt anyone. I withdraw my tweets. If India was intolerant, Shah Rukh Khan could not have become the most popular star after Amitabh Bachchan. 

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

Yogi Adityanath, BJP MP:  Shah Rukh Khan should remember that if a huge mass in society would boycott his films, he will also have to wander on streets like a normal Muslim.... I am saying these people are speaking in a terrorist’s language. I think there is no difference between the language of Shah Rukh Khan and Hafiz Saeed (the alleged 26/11 mastermind). We welcome that people go there (Pakistan), at least people who defame India will understand their own originality.

(Seizing upon the opportunity gifted by the so-called “hotheads”, Saeed had tweeted from across the border on Tuesday morning that “even the renowned Indian Muslims in the field of sports, academia, arts & culture are fighting a constant battle for identity inside India. Any such Muslim, even Shah Rukh who is facing difficulty and discrimination inside India because of Islam, is invited to stay in Pakistan”.)

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

Nalin Kohli, BJP spokesperson:  No Indian requires an invite from a terrorist like Hafiz Saeed and certainly not a proud Indian like Shah Rukh Khan. Many Pakistanis may prefer Indian citizenship. 

Yogi’s statements are unacceptable, uncalled for and incorrect. 

There cannot be any comparison of any law-abiding Indian citizen with a terrorist like Saeed, certainly not Khan who is a much-loved and respected Indian national and artiste.

Shah Rukh Khan posted the picture above and the following message on Twitter on Wednesday morning: “My love bite from a bar fight. Being a romantic hero even my injuries look...well...pretty & pink! From sets of #Dilwale”

His statements do not reflect the thinking of the BJP or the Government of India under Prime MInister Modi who has unequivocally called for communal harmony. The Modi government functions purely within the constitutional framework.

In the next breath, Kohli added: Article 19 1 (a) of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech to every Indian citizen, whether moderate or extreme. If anyone violates ‘reasonable restrictions’ or any penal provisions of the law, the law and order enforcement agency concerned should take action.

The Telegraph asked Nikita Sud, an associate professor of development studies at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, how she viewed the multiple statements.

Sud, the author of Liberalisation, Hindu Nationalism and the State: A Biography of Gujarat and a close observer of the RSS and the BJP, said: “Much of the time, the cadre of a party, its affiliated organisations or organisations identified with the RSS take cue from the signals flowing from the top.

“Nobody from the top (in the government/the BJP) might have said ‘halt the trucks coming from Punjab with cows’ but you take the signals from the top to the ground.

“Even if there are no cues, the sense that this is our government and we can do what we want is enough to trigger a hurtful statement or act.

“The onus is on those at the top to give alternative signals. But we don’t see a consistent stand out there. The government looked the other way when someone said something about ‘haramzadon’ but suddenly feels disconcerted over the intolerance debate. The government’s stand seems to be contingent on what the prevailing political mood is like, whether there are elections and so on.”

(In December 2014, in the run-up to the Delhi Assembly elections, Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti told voters they must choose between “Ramzadon” and “haramzadon” — those born of Ram and illegitimate progeny. Jyoti continues to be a minister.)


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