The Congress and other Opposition parties believe that the all-pervasive communal discourse in the country is a ploy to divert attention from the Narendra Modi government’s failures, contending that such a toxic campaign cannot be sustained without blessings from the top.
“The Prime Minister’s silence is dangerous. It means two things: one, the hate campaign has the Prime Minister’s blessings; and two, he is not concerned at what is happening in the country,” Congress general secretary Tariq Anwar told The Telegraph.
“Although divisive politics is not new, what we have seen over the past few months is unbelievable.”
Calls for genocide against Muslims have allegedly been sounded at events in various parts of the country since December, and a sadhu has been arrested in Uttar Pradesh on the charge of threatening to rape Muslim women.
However, Delhi police — who report to the Union home ministry — have closed a case relating to an event where participants had taken an oath to “fight, die and kill” to establish a Hindu Rashtra, arguing no “hate words” had been used against any community.
Mohan Bhagwat. File photo
To buttress his claim that the hate campaign spreading across the country had endorsement from the top, Anwar referred to a speech that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat delivered in Haridwar on Thursday.
Bhagwat said India was progressing fast on the strength of the Sanatan Dharma and anyone creating hurdles would be cast aside. He said it would at normal pace take 25-30 years to achieve Akhand Bharat but it could be attained in 15 years if everyone worked hard.
“Instead of solving the problems India is grappling with, he (Bhagwat) tried to divert attention with the promise of Akhand Bharat in the next 15 years,” Anwar said.
Anwar asked: “Is he not concerned about the divisions in society that exist today? Has he nothing to say about the price rise, unemployment and the economic distress brought on the people by the Modi government?”
Bhagwat did not speak a word on the threats issued to Muslims from Dharma Sansads, the Ram Navami violence in some states, or the restrictions imposed or demanded on the hijab, halal meat and mosque loudspeakers in Karnataka.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot too hit out at Bhagwat’s comments.
“What is Akhand Bharat? I am perplexed — is he suggesting Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan will merge with India?” Gehlot said, addressing the Congress’s Azadi Gaurav Yatra (Independence Pride March), which entered Rajasthan on Friday.
“The RSS gave an undertaking to Sardar Patel when he banned the organisation after Gandhi’s assassination that it would not engage in politics. Bhagwat should talk about social challenges like untouchability. He talks as if he is a thekedar (one who holds the sole rights) to Hinduism. Are we not Hindus? Gandhi said, ‘Say proudly, we are Hindus’.”
Gehlot continued: “There is an atmosphere of fear, violence and tension. Bulldozers are demolishing houses on suspicion of wrongdoing; the judiciary has been rendered irrelevant. Income-tax, ED, CBI officials are targeting people on political orders. We gave India the Constitution and the RSS-BJP is now misleading the people.”
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate tweeted: “Women are being openly given rape threats. Flags are forcibly hoisted on mosques, students are beaten up in universities for eating non-veg, Muslims are being beaten up and their businesses being disrupted… it is clear Modi ji that your silence is your protection.”
Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha said: “Every day we wake to instances of violence on account of these diversionary tactics…. We have ample reason to believe that such orchestrated diversions cannot go on without tacit support from the government.”
He added: “The polarised discourse helps the government, which has no clue regarding the poor state of the economy, inflation or the all-time high rate of unemployment. The government is keen to prove what Shakespeare wrote years ago, that ‘False face must hide what the false heart doth know’.”
Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar alleged that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray’s comment about the need for Hindus to counter the use of mosque loudspeakers had been prompted by the BJP.
“Why did Thackeray not refer to the prices of petrol, diesel and (cooking) gas or to unemployment?” he said.
Alluding to Thackeray’s remarks, Shiv Sena politician Sanjay Raut said: “This is a BJP loudspeaker that has resumed service after getting relief from the ED. This is to help the BJP in the Mumbai civic elections.”