August 04, 2019

HATE, THREAT & VIOLENCE: Now, BJP Minister Wields Jai Shri Ram Sword

Satyaki S

A BJP minister in Jharkhand has exposed his party’s repeated assertions that “fringe elements” were targeting Muslims on the pretext of chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ or cow smuggling and that the ruling dispensation cannot be entirely blamed for it. Now, BJP leader and Jharkhand urban development minister C P Singh wielded the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ sword at his Assembly colleague Irfan Ansari. On July 24, Singh told Ansari in front of the media, “Main to keh raha hun, bhai, Irfan bhai, ek bar jor se ‘Jai Shri Ram’ boliye (I’m telling you, Brother Irfan, say ‘Jai Shri Ram’ aloud once).” In a video clip of the incident, which has gone viral, the MLA is heard telling the minister, “Ram ka matlab kya…darane ke liye? Dara nahin sakte hain aap (Are you using Ram’s name to instill fear? You won’t succeed).”

Prompt comes the reply from the minister, “Arre, darane ke liye nahin bhai; tere poorvaj bhi ‘Jai Shri Ram’ wale theh, bhulayo mat (Come on, I’m not trying to scare you; your ancestors too belonged to the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ clan, don’t forget that).” “Aapke poorvaj bhi ‘Jai Shri Ram’ ke theh, Babar nahin theh (Your ancestors too belonged to ‘Jai Shri Ram’, not Babar),” Singh adds.

The minister’s assertions lay bare what the RSS believes and what it wants to achieve through hate and violence -- a Hindu Rashtra where minorities are second-class citizens and have to submit themselves to the diktats of Hindutva forces, the self-proclaimed flagbearers of the Hindu religion.

The incident comes at a time the country has been witnessing a rise in attacks on Muslims and Dalits by rightwing goons. Since the Modi government assumed office for a second term, barely a day passed without reports about Muslims being attacked and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in various parts of the country.

On July 19, three people were beaten to death by a mob in Saran district of Bihar on the pretext of cattle theft. The relatives of the victims said that they had gone out to relieve themselves when they were beaten to death. On July 16, a mob reached a madrassa and demolished the boundary wall in a village in Fatehpur district in Uttar Pradesh on the pretext of cow slaughter. A Muslim hawker in his mid-forties was beaten up by a group of youths who forced him to chant Jai Shri Ram near Asansol in West Bengal on July 24. The incident triggered communal tension in the area. Both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP have been trying to sharpen communal divide to reap electoral dividends in Bengal.

The second consecutive win for the BJP, riding on a narrative built around communal nationalist jingoism, has emboldened right-wing goons and vigilantes. After the BJP secured victory for a second term at the centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to “fulfil the dreams of 130 crore Indians and create the New India all of us dreamt of”. In reality what the BJP government is offering is intensified State repression and attacks on minorities and Dalits by rightwing goons. The Left and democratic forces have to wage a united fight to arrest this trend.