Why people who talk tough and rough, thrive in the BJP
There are more than one example of men being promoted in the BJP for their proven record of trolling, abuses and even physical violence. They invariably prosper in the party
Not a single word escaped the lips of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the marauding lynch mobs during his marathon, one-and-a-half-hour-long reply to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the no-confidence motion.
Every time the opposition tried to prompt him to say something on lynchings, they were greeted by howls of protest from the treasury benches to drown the demand.
The debate was taking place barely a day after ABVP boys barged into St Andrews College in Gorakhpur, the oldest institution in the UP Chief Minister’s hometown, and assaulted the principal and staff. A day earlier, volunteers of Bharatiya Janata Yuva morcha (BYJM) attacked 80-year-old Swami Agnivesh in Jharkhand’s Pakur, pushed him to the ground, kicked and pounded him and tore his turban and saffron robe for allegedly being critical of the Prime Minister and the BJP.
With each passing day, ‘Modi’s mob’ is becoming more brazen. They no longer make any effort to hide their identity. With the Prime Minister himself following trolls, allowing himself to be photographed with them and by his continued silence, he appears to have encouraged them to take law into their hands.
Every time the BJP and its stormtroopers are accused of rioting and a pogrom, it indulges in ‘whataboutery’ and raises the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while speaking in the Lok sabha, declared that the biggest lynchings happened then in 1984 in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
But while Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh have both been to the Harmandir Saheb in Amritsar and apologised for the riots for which they were not even personally responsible, the then Home Minister PV Narasimha Rao, directly responsible for law and order in Delhi, escaped without expressing any remorse. It is not an accident that he is now appropriated by the BJP.
But neither the PM nor the Home Minister dare own responsibility, notwithstanding the admonition by the Supreme Court. Following a rap on the knuckle, the government has announced the formation of a committee to recommend a law to curb the mob.
How effective though is a law when RSS leaders like Indresh Kumar maintain that Muslims must stop eating beef if they don’t want to be lynched; or when union minister Arjun Meghwal declares that lynchings have a correlation with PM Modi’s popularity or when union minister Jayant Sinha garlands people convicted for lynching?
Forget about the minorities and Swami Agnivesh, BJP president Amit Shah is yet to express any condemnation or a word of regret for the verbal assault and abuses the ‘Bhakts’ subjected Sushma Swaraj, the MEA. Her only fault was that she had stood by an inter-faith couple and ensured that they got the Indian passport against the bigoted opposition of a communally biased passport officer.
On the other hand, criticism of Modi or Amit Shah on social media have on the other hand invited arrests of young men. IAS officers critical of Modi and unreasonable actions of the government have faced censure, transfers and in the case of Shah Faisal, a departmental inquiry.
And such is the terror of this mob that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj dare not utter a word against them in public.
A scrawny Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga had started frequenting the BJP office on Ashoka Road in Delhi around 2011-12, along with a couple of other young men. Once in a while, he would be spotted outside the media room where the media cell convenor, now a minister in UP, Shrikant Sharma, would hold forth and ply us with endless cups of tea and samosa, sometime also gulab jamun.
Then Bagga started distributing press notes outside the swanky conference hall and gradually gained entry to the hall as a handy assistant to Shrikant. This was about the time BJP had raised its campaign on “corrupt Congress, corrupt Sonia, corrupt UPA.”
Bagga shot into the limelight when he and his small band went and blackened a Congress hoarding outside the AICC headquarters on Akbar Road. It was a good clip for TV channels, hungering for sensation and brought his two-minutes of fame to Bagga.
For a while thereafter we heard nothing of Bagga and he was not seen on Ashoka Road either. One can’t say if he chose this or was barred by the BJP top brass. But when Nitin Gadkari filed his nomination for a second term as party president in the face of stiff opposition from a wide cross section of party leaders, led by Lal Kishan Advani and there was commotion on the eve of the polling day, Bagga was again seen lurking around. That too passed uneventfully when at the last minute Gadkari withdrew and Rajnath Singh replaced him.
Bagga was again seen in action after the Bombay national executive meet of the BJP in 2013 in which Modi was anointed the party’s prime ministerial candidate despite opposition from LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi. In fact, Advani was even reluctant to go and attend that session whereupon Bagga was seen outside Advani’s house along with his small band with a slipper in hand, ostensibly prepared to greet Advani with a slipper if he dared to venture out of his bungalow.
That seems to have put Bagga in the big league. Come 2014 and Shrikant Sharma’s stock rose after he successfully conducted Modi’s first media meet after Diwali, selectively choosing those who later fell over each other for a selfie with Prime Minister Modi
Bagga’s stock in the BJP also seemed to rise and soon thereafter we saw a clip of Bagga assaulting noted Human Rights lawyer and one time AAP leader Prashant Bhushan. Bagga has now been duly rewarded and appointed the spokesperson of Delhi state BJP.
There is another middle-aged gentleman by the name of OP Sharma, a former sweetmeat seller from Jamuna Bazar. Known as the personal assistant of Arun Jaitley, he was a friendly soul and betrayed no aggressive streak.
Before the BJP stormed to power in 2014 and Arun Jaitely became a minister, Jaitley had been allotted 9, Ashoka Road, next to the party office. But Jaitley chose to live in his own house in Kailash Colony. 9, Ashoka Road became a kind of old men’s home for retired RSS activists and former BJP leaders still in the good books of the Sangh. Jaitley had built a swanky outhouse with two furnished rooms, a waiting hall, a pantry and a small but nice washroom.
This outhouse was built as personal quarters for Narendra Modi when he became the organisation secretary of the BJP, ousting KN Govindacharya. OP Sharma would normally be ushering us into Jaitley’s room or debarring us.
Post-2014 when Arvind Kejriwal resigned as CM, forcing a mid-term poll for Delhi Assembly, Jaitley had already graduated to the Union Cabinet and shifted to 2, Krishna Menon Marg. Sharma was given a ticket from Vishwas Nagar in East Delhi and he became one of the three BJP men to get elected.
But he was yet to reach the big league though and that followed after he led a band of goons to assault JNU students and teachers in and around Patiala House courts when Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and others were arrested by the Police and produced in the court. The TV cameras faithfully followed him while he pummelled a CPI supporter of Kanhaiya Kumar in the middle of Purana Qila Road between parked cars. He, in fact, announced that had he a gun with him, he would have shot the poor man for daring to support the JNU students and teachers assembled there.
Sharma too has now arrived. He is now treasurer of the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) which has virtually proprietary rights over Ferozeshah Kotla Cricket ground, along with another bosom pal of Jaitley, Rajat Sharma, the proprieter-Editor of India TV, which like Republic TV, Times Now and Zee, makes no effort to hide its pro-BJP, pro Modi bias.
Both Bagga and Sharma are examples of the kind of toughies welcomed, promoted and patronised by the BJP. They are encouraged and rewarded and are noticed by Modi and his men.
The trolls and the mobsters are not abusing or lynching people because they hate Muslims or dissenters. But they do so for earning brownie points.
Narendra Modi himself made his mark as a politician of consequence after he organised a violent attack on all those ministers and MLAs who rebelled against the BJP decision to make Keshubhai Patel the Gujarat chief minister in 1995 and flew off to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh with Shanker Sinh Vaghela to bolster Vaghela’s case.
Soon after they returned, apparently after a compromise was reached and rejoined the government, Keshubhai held a dinner party to smoke a peace pipe. But Modi’s then confidant Praveen Togadia along with other VHP/Bajrang Dal men barged into the party, assaulted the targeted ministers and MLAs and zeroed in on the oldest of them all, Atmaram Patel, whose dhoti they pulled away and shoved a rod in the poor old man from behind.
When some reporters in Delhi cornered Modi about this incident, he smirked and dismissed it saying how old men who are not sexually active are treated in Gujarat.