February 02, 2020

BJP’s Hate Campaign in Delhi

THE election campaign for the Delhi Assembly is witnessing a disgraceful campaign by the BJP based on rabid communalism and hate speech inciting violence.  The Modi government and the BJP are also displaying the authoritarian manner in which they are dealing with the widespread peaceful protests against the CAA-NPR-NRC.

The home minister, Amit Shah, himself set the tone of the campaign by targeting the women’s protest at Shaheen Bagh as an anti-national activity and calling upon people to press the voting button so hard that the current reaches Shaheen Bagh. 

The union minister of state for finance, Anurag Thakur, in an election meeting raised the slogan `Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro salon ko’ (shoot the traitors). Calling for shooting people dubbed by the BJP as “traitors” is nothing but an open incitement to violence.  That this call has come from a union minister in a public meeting makes the matter all the more serious.

The next day, a BJP member of parliament from Delhi, Parvesh Verma, stated that in Shaheen Bagh, “lakhs of people gathered there…they can enter your house, rape your sisters and daughters and kill them”.

These speeches and statements deserve the strongest action by the Election Commission. It would not be enough to ban them from campaigning for 48 hours as was done in the case of Kapil Mishra, a BJP candidate who had called the election a match between India and Pakistan on the streets of Delhi and that Shaheen Bagh was a “mini Pakistan”.

The Election Commission had proved to be notably ineffective in the Lok Sabha election in curbing communal appeals and hate speeches which began from the top involving Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Now too, it has not taken a sufficiently strong stand against the two offenders, one of whom is a union minister.  The commission has only asked the BJP to drop them as star campaigners.  This means that they can still campaign.  The least that should have been done is to prohibit them from campaigning altogether.  The commission should also instruct the administration to file criminal cases against them. 

The stance of Amit Shah and other BJP leaders towards the CAA-NPR-NRC protests during this election campaign is to condemn these protests as anti-national (deshdrohi), pro-Pakistan and a conspiracy to break-up the country.  It is this attitude, which is leading to cases of sedition being filed against even a school in Karnataka where children staged a play against the CAA.

The BJP’s vitriolic propaganda seeks to rouse the base instincts of the people.  But the people of Delhi are concerned about the basic issues concerning the city – employment, education, health, public transport, electricity, water supply, women’s safety and pollution.  The BJP will learn to its cost that its communal ploy will fail in Delhi, just as it did, in Jharkhand too.