BJP has raised the flame of its communal stove in Rajasthan, right from the last date for withdrawal of nomination on November 9. Within three days it started spewing flue flames causing a considerable rise in politico-communal temperature in the state, and the ruling Congress has started feeling the heat. Electoral battle has just turned ugly occupying the front pushing the issues of peace and development in the state into the rear.
By November 12, the situation turned worse to such an extent that the Congress leader and the chief minister Ashok Gehlot not only alleged that the BJP was attempting to fuel communal tensions as the state reaching closer to the Assembly election scheduled for November 25, but also asserted that the perpetrators of the Udaipur killing of a tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli had links with BJP.
The full import of CM Ashok Gehlot’s assertion would be possible to comprehend to some extent only if we recall the incident of June 28, 2022, when two assailants in disguise of customers went to the tailor’s shop. When the tailor was taking measurement for one of them, he was attacked with butcher’s knives, dragged out of the shop, and slit his throat. A shop assistant was also severely injured while trying to save him. Other shopkeepers did not make attempts to rescue him. The assailants fled on foot and then drove away on motorcycle. The recording of the attack made by assailants was posted on social media. A second video was posted in the social media in which two men identified themselves as Muhammad Riyaz Attari and Muhammad Ghaus. The assailants boasted that they had avenged the insult to Islam.
The horrific and shocking incident has a background. BJP’s spokes personNupur Sharma had made a controversial remark on May 27 about the prophet Muhammad during a Times Now debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque dispute of Varanasi. Times Now has been allegedly known for whipping up politico-communal passion in favour of the BJP. Varanasi is represented in Lok Sabha by PM Narendra Modi. Even after the demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, BJP rank and file has been raising the slogan – “Ayodhya to Jhankihai, Kashi Mathura Baki Hai” (What happened in Ayodhya is just a tableau, Kashi and Mathura is in waiting). The victim tailor was carried away by communal frenzy created in this background and shared a social media post in support of Nupur Sharma, who was then suspended by the BJP. On June 11, the tailor’s neighbour Nazim had got an FIR registered against him. On June 15, the tailor has sought protection from police for he had received death threat.
Now come back to the CM Ashok Gehlot’s assertion that the assailants were linked to BJP. It makes the whole affair serious since this has come from the chief minister who was in power in Rajasthan at the time of the incident. He said that just after the incident Special Operations Group (SOG) had taken charge of the case, however, next day on June 29, National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case, and the state did not object. “No one knows what action the NIA has taken. If our SOG had pursued the case, the culprits would have been brought to justice by now,” CM Gehlot said.
Matter does not end here, since CM Gehlot has said, “The culprits have links to the BJP. Days before the incident, when the police had arrested these accused in some other case and some BJP leaders visited the police station to get them released.”
He added further, “The thing is that BJP has sensed defeat in the elections and are, hence, coming up with bizarre claims. They are not speaking a word about the schemes that we launched and the laws we brought. They just want to stir up trouble ahead of the elections … and … the people will give them a befitting reply.”
On November 9 in Udaipur, PM Modi had said that the murder was a blot on the Gehlot led Rajasthan government, and had occurred as a result of the Congress sympathising with terror, and their policy of appeasement.
It must be noted that the case is not with the state government under CM Ashok Gehlot but with NIA under PM Modi. Additionally, the victim’s son has said that CM Ashok Gehlot has assured him that culprits would be hanged within three months, but we are yet to get justice. CM saying that nothing is known about NIA’s action so far is serious.
CM Gehlot’s statement should not be brushed aside since it calls for further investigations if there was any communal conspiracy for vote bank politics in which common people are becoming victims of violence? What measures are Centre and the states taking against Communal violence?
There are also political concerns, since all these means that the ruling Congress and CM Ashok Gehlot has increasingly been feeling the communal heat during the election campaign. Why the BJP is up to it and how far the ruling Congress is threatened? The answer to such questions will be only revealed in the election results on December 3 after counting of votes.
However, few things are to be taken note of. Communal violence in Manipur since May 8 under the double engine government of the BJP has just pushed the party into margin in Mizoram in the first phase of election. BJP’s good governance and development claim were just ineffective in Mizoram in the light of the situation in Manipur violence that has fully halted all the development in the state. In the first phase of election in Chhattisgarh, BJP added allegation of corruption against the ruling Congress, apart from linking Congress to Naxals, however, with little perceivable benefit. For the second phase of election in Madhya Pradesh, the jinn of communalism have also been brought out amidst severe infighting in BJP. However, and at the fag end of the election campaign, the BJP is standing on slippery ground.
No wonder, in Rajasthan, the BJP has come out with their time-tested communalism as if catching a straw right from the beginning of the election campaign after withdrawal of candidature on November 9 in the third phase of election campaign, since the party has little to gain in the fourth and the last phase of election in Telangana.
Hindu-Muslim communalisation can be seen in the act of BJP when it dropped the Masuda candidate just over rumours that he was a Muslim. Ugliness is seen in Pokharan poll battle where Hindu seer is contesting a Muslim religious leader’s son. BJP leaders, including PM Narendra Modi and Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah has been repeatedly mentioning Ayodhya Ram Temple and Sanatana Dharma, and portraying Congress as anti-Hindus and pro-anti-nationals, and alleging minority appeasement. BJP leaders go on referring to Israel-Hamas war is a way that communalises the voters.
Congress has committed caste census to the electorate to facilitate social justice to OBCs. However, Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has said, “This election is not about caste; it is about Sanatan. This election is being contested for the respect of Sanatan. There is no caste greater than religion. Caste can never be bigger than religion.”
Only time will tell what impact such communal politics would spell in Rajasthan in particular in the current state election, and in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election 2024 in the country, when BJP and PM Narendra Modi would seek for the third term, and the opposition INDIA alliance would try to defeat them. Whatever, be the outcome, but one thing is clear, electorate need to prevent politico-communal violence in the country to avoid a mass scale violence across the country in near future. Politics of Hate must stop. Since the Election Commission of India has become ineffective, responsibility fall back on citizens. (IPA Service)