Where war against anti-CAA movement becomes battle for male supremacy

Vitriolic campaign against women protesters depicts that BJP detests equal participation of women in Indian democracy. The lexicon used by saffron warriors reeks of toxic masculinity and patriarchy

Where war against anti-CAA movement becomes battle for male supremacy

Ashutosh Sharma

Why does the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) behave in a way that reminds one of Arnab Goswami’s response to Kunal Kamra on board IndiGo flight, when it comes to the question of legislation for 50 per cent women’s reservation in politics?

In the wake of countrywide blowback against “unconstitutional” Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the reaction of the BJP warriors gives a straight answer.

The BJP had promised an equal representation of women at national and state levels in 2014. But the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2008, brought in by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government—that sought to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in the Lok Sabha and in the state Assemblies—remains pending for passage in Parliament due to the nonchalant attitude of the BJP, which enjoys brute majority in both the houses.

The hate campaign unleashed by the party against women leading the anti-CAA movement has exposed its saffron designs. The radio silence maintained by BJP’s women leaders over vilification of women protesters also reveals their submissive and subservient role in the party’s internal functioning.

The entire lexicon being used against the women protesters upholding the symbols of nationalism and constitutionalism reeks of nothing but toxic masculinity and patriarchy.

Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh has become an eyesore for Modi government and the ruling party as the first 24x7 anti-CAA protest sit in was started and continues to be led by the local women. Their political action has given birth to hundreds of Shaheen Baghs in several other parts of the country. Their dissent is infectious and the government that boasts it won’t budge an inch on its decision to implement contentious CAA, is clearly at its wit’s end.

Till recently, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was waxing eloquent over Modi government’s move on Triple Talaq. Like other party leaders, he too was parroting that it was aimed at giving long denied “insaaf” (justice) to Muslim women. But his hypocrisy got busted in the time of CAA crisis. Taking a vile jibe at the community, CM Yogi had recently said with a smirk, “…their men are sleeping at home whereas women have been pushed to protest against CAA.”

So, it becomes natural to ask what CM Yogi thinks of all those women of eminence whose names have gone into the Indian history: Jhansi Ki Rani, Rani Chennamma, Annie Besant, Savitri Bai Phule, Begum Royeka, Capt Laxmi Sehgal, Uda Devi, Matangini Hazra... The list is endless.

Evidently, his remarks reflect a patriarchal mindset that wants women —irrespective of their religion — to confine themselves to their homes and hearths, isolate themselves from the public life completely. It’s a line of thinking that abhors women in leadership role. An attitude that looks down upon women as lesser citizens and subhuman, who lack understanding of what’s right or wrong for them.

The police crackdown on anti-CAA women protesters in Lucknow reveals that even those 5.50 lakh earthen lamps (diyas) that Yogi lit to celebrate Deepotsav (festival of lamps) in Ayodhya, have failed to dispel saffron darkness in his heart and mind. Let’s not forget, he had exhorted his followers to dig up Muslim women from graves and rape them.

Some BJP spokespersons have been describing anti-CAA women protesters as “gullible” who have supposedly been misled or brainwashed. Others have stopped short of calling them commodities, saying they have been participating in the demonstrations for Biryani and money.

Sambit Patra, the real-life personification of the word ‘Troll’, is yet to decide whether the women protesters of Shaheen Bagh are “saleable” or “gullible.” Hopping from Twitter to one TV studio to another, he has been giving contradictory statements in his continued attempt at dehumanising the daring women. Shamelessly, he has been referring to Shaheen Bagh as “Shame Bagh”.

The Shaheen Bagh women have sent a defamation notice to the BJP IT cell chief, Amit Malviya, over his ‘paid protest’ remark. More legal notices are likely to be slapped on such dirty motor mouths in the near future.

When the BJP had become a target of national ridicule at the time of Kathua rape and murder case, Prime Minister Modi after a long and studied silence had finally said in ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ programme at Central Hall Westminster, London, “Rape is rape…it should not be politicised.”

But his junior colleagues like Parvesh Verma — an MP from West Delhi and aspiring Delhi Chief Minister — think otherwise. Before he was finally banned by the Election Commission from campaigning in Delhi Assembly polls, he was seen hysterically trying to cash in on the heinous social crime and the living tragedy of displaced Kashmiri Pandits for electoral gains through the politics of polarisation.

Brazenly, Verma was telling residents of Delhi that if “terrorist” Arvind Kejriwal— who is a democratically elected Chief Minister of Delhi—remains in power, he will instigate people of Shaheen Bagh to enter their houses to rape and kill their sisters and daughters. “In that case, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah won’t be there to protect you,” he has repeatedly said.

Such instances not only expose the hollowness of Prime Minister’s oft-repeated slogan “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” but also divulge what kind of talent he is grooming in the BJP—which claims to be a party with a difference. It’s no longer a secret how Modi and his minions have been damaging “world’s largest democracy”.

TV anchors, who are known lapdogs of the Prime Minister, and don’t deserve to be named here, have said on screens, “Girls belonging to good families don’t take part in street protests.” Even on Twitter, they wrote that women protesters of Shaheen Bagh are “making a mockery of Indian democracy”.

While the Supreme Court hasn’t yet decided to hear the petition seeking removal of the demonstrators from the anti-CAA protest site, these TV anchors have started mocking the apex court, claiming that Indian laws are no longer applicable in the much-demonised pocket of Delhi.

Despite extended vilification campaign against the movement, the protests continue to grow across the country. Those who uphold the supremacy of the Constitution know it’s the ruling party, its supporters and stooges masquerading as scribes, who are actually making the mockery of Indian democracy.

The female protesters at the forefront of the resistance movement have only added some dignity to the Indian democracy. But those who have weaponized ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ can’t fathom this simple reality as they want Indian politics to be an all-men bastion.

From JNU students union leader, Aishe Ghosh to students of Jamia Millia Islamia, Ladeeda Sakhaloon and Aysha Renna; Jadavpur University gold medallist, Debsmita Chowdhury; thousands of mothers and grandmothers of Shaheen Bagh; and undeterred women of Lucknow and other parts of the country — who are leading the protest against contentious CAA, all of them have reassured us that both India and its democracy have a bright future.

When the Opposition parties had become almost ineffective, these brave women have shown the sure-fire way to detox Indian democracy and prevent it from becoming a kakistocracy.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 01 Feb 2020, 4:12 PM