A macabre theatre


Nothing divides India more than its elections. Even going by this maxim, the cleavage has never been as distinct as it is in the poll-bound Delhi. The back-to-back attacks on unarmed protesters from the minority community by Hindu radicals in the capital city aptly mark the growing fault-line. A rising crescendo of calumny against the Shaheen Bagh protests has been on view. Some were branded as traitors. The Prime Minister has insinuated publicly that the protests are a “conspiracy” of dubious intent. The Election Commission seems to dawdle and indulge the habitual lawbreakers. The half-hearted reprimands and the tepidness of such measures and the reluctance with which the EC gently raps the guilty leaders further emboldens them to dig in their heels and stick to the communal refrain. The series of events that played out in the past, encapsulates the mind of the saffron party and what the BJP hopes to achieve through this orchestrated campaign of intimidation. From all indications, the Delhi poll campaign will be remembered as one of the most reckless communal campaigns launched by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), since ascending to power at the Centre in 2014. In creating such a macabre political theatre, the BJP hopes to dent the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s well-entrenched credibility among the people of Delhi — with the hate campaign standing in for the desperate means of a desperate party.

In their desperate attempt to win an election they appear to be losing, the BJP leaders are trying to turn Indians against Indians. It is, of course, a deplorable ploy, rooted in misinformation, canards and toxic slogans. But, it is also pitiable. The 2014 talk of vikas has long since been dumped. Communal polarisation is what solely interests the BJP now and occupies all of its attention. From Bengal’s BJP state president Dilip Ghosh to Union minister Anurag Thakur, BJP party leaders are talking only of guns and bullets. For a nation, the biggest traitor is a leader who incites others to dispense mob justice, resort to violence and turn against fellow citizens. By weaponising his followers, this toxic leader takes advantage of their trust, and commits the crime of misusing them for ulterior objectives.

In a democracy, elections are won and lost. But, at stake in Delhi is much more than power. In the cauldron of hate and desperation, the BJP is boiling a toxic potion that will encourage vulnerable victims like the self-proclaimed “Rambhakt”, who fired at protesters at Jamia Millia. All of which makes the Delhi elections a test of how far popular opinion and social taste may or may not have moved over the last five years of Narendra Modi’s rule. Will the hate-filled, polarising communal blitzkrieg wash out from the electoral mind all considerations of actual performance, as it did in the last Lok Sabha elections after Pulwama, or will the electorate hold fast to facts on the ground? Fingers crossed.

Javvadi Lakshmana Rao,

Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 1:44:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/a-macabre-theatre/article30755123.ece

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