SSR and Hathras outrage confirm RSS-BJP-IT Cell have lost the plot

UPA handled the Nirbhaya gangrape and the following outrage with far more finesse than the Modi-Yogi Government have handled the Hathras tragedy. But is that a surprise, asks Sujata Anandan

SSR and Hathras outrage confirm RSS-BJP-IT Cell have lost the plot

Sujata Anandan

I am beginning to believe that both BJP and RSS might have lost the plot and meandered into a labyrinth of their own making. They would not have otherwise messed up both the Sushant Singh Rajput and Hathras cases.

The former has backfired after the AIIMS team of experts confirmed Rajput's death as suicide and ruled out murder. In the meantime, just ahead of the Bihar elections, they have made this ‘Bihar Putra’ look weak, pusillanimous and a drug addict.

Recently former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is, significantly, in charge of the BJP's fortunes in Bihar at the coming elections, said “one woman" (Kangana Ranaut) has shaken up the Maharashtra government. He ought to have known it takes more than just a few unsubstantiated allegations by an actress to topple any government anywhere in the country. Otherwise Smriti Irani, who once sat on a fast against Narendra Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat, would have brought down his government long ago and we would not have had to live through these dark, gloomy days when the BJP is messing up everything in the country.

However, it is the Hathras case that draws particular attention to the inability of the BJP to manage anything. Compare it to how the Congress governments in Delhi and at the Centre had handled the Nirbhaya case and readers would know what I mean. I am not absolving the Congress of anything but after a few false starts the Congress-led governments pulled together to launch a manhunt for the rapists, fly the victim to Singapore to secure her the best treatment, even though, as in the Hathras case, it was obvious right from the start that the girl would not survive. But, more importantly, even as Nirbhaya’s funeral too was conducted in secrecy in the dead of night, her family was not barred like in Hathras from lighting her pyre and there was no attempt to hush up the case except in so far as to avoid a media circus and the resultant distractions.

More importantly, people were allowed to protest and let off steam. That is always a safety valve that ensures the survival of governments even if a few heads might roll and some resignations secured as a placatory measure. However, the manner in which both the Uttar Pradesh government and the state police have handled the fallout of the Hathras case has been both appalling and revealing.

In an era of social media and smart phones when little can be kept under wraps, it is stunning that the authorities should have barred the girl's family from conducting her funeral, attempted to arm-twist them to change their statement and manhandled Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as he and his sister Priyanka Vadra, in charge of Uttar Pradesh for the Congress, attempted to visit the family in their home.

Now Gandhi was undeterred and despite his earlier arrest decided to breach the UP police’s defences again and led a delegation of his party to Hathras. His courage and determination only grew.

This obstruction, I believe, was not just police mismanagement but came right from the top – the state ‘s chief minister Yogi Adityanath is being increasingly exposed as a novice in statecraft and despite his long stint in Parliament he remains more of a saffron -clad, dictatorial Mahanth, the likes of whom the country has not seen before.

Earlier this year, during the lockdown and migrant worker crisis, he proclaimed that those states who wanted workers for their industries would have to seek his express permission for their return, as though they were slaves or bonded labour. I believe it was less arrogance and more a complete lack of knowledge of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution that made him spout that completely appalling and foolish statement.

Incidents like the manhandling of the Gandhi siblings have happened before - including the famously unconstitutionsl incarceration of Dr Kafeel Khan and Bhim army chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravana, on whimsical grounds. But even more stunningly unconstitutional was Adityanath's recent assertion that instead of resorting to constitutional means and approaching the authorities for redress, the response to an act of aggression should be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!

I suppose, I should not have been surprised - for isn‘t this the same man who had once advocated digging up Muslim women from their graves and raping them? Of course, that would be a completely unconstitutional act but, seriously, necrophilia?!!! Is this what we want our saffron-clad alleged gurus and political leaders to be like?

Not only is there a lot of moral turpitude here but I believe much of this arises from complete lack of common intelligence and the inability to grasp fundamental truths. In that sense Adityanath is just a few steps ahead of Narendra Modi whose routine exaggerations and lies have exposed him as equally ignorant and incompetent which brought him a fair amount of international opprobrium as well.

If, indeed, they were more intelligent, they would not have tried to stop Rahul Gandhi from visiting Hathras after pretending all these years that he was of no consequence.

Relentless as the Congress leader is about taking on the BJP-RSS and the government, the Hathras incident has showcased the exemplary courage that many of Gandhi's supporters have been claiming he has for years. More intelligent administrators would have allowed the Congress leaders to quietly proceed under tight security, creating little fuss or incident and allowing public memory to take its course and forget the incidents soon thereafter.

Now they have fuelled agitations by Congress workers all across the country who are not just protesting the manhandling of their leaders but drawing attention to the contrast between the BJP and the Congress, between Uttar Pradesh and the better governed states and between Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders.

While the BJP-RSS are entitled to their bone-headedness, it is sad that they are turning the largest state of India into a fount of crime, a haven for criminals and a crucible of administrative mismanagement. The price for this native ‘wild west’ might be more than our future generations can afford or be willing to pay.

(The author is a columnist based in Mumbai. Views are personal)

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