2014 general elections was a historic event in the nation’s polity. Despite apprehensions shown by the academia, civil society and secular lobby, people elected Narendra Modi as their Prime Minister with a historic mandate. There was frustration against the scam-ridden tenure of Congress. The then Chief minister of Gujarat, although with a tainted background, rose as a one-stop solution to all the economic and social woes plaguing the nation. He was no longer the the hardline Hindutva apostate, but a statesman who raised the slogan Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikaas (collective efforts, inclusive growth).
Following the mandate, political pundits assumed that Modi would step in the shoes of former Sangh-rooted Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and adhere to the principles of raj-dharma. However, 20-months under his Government, critics could conveniently say that Sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas was a mere rhetoric and the actual motto of this Government is: Sangh ka saath, Dalito aur Musalmano ka vinaash (Committment to RSS; destruction of Dalits and Muslims). (ALSO READ: Fringe is the new mainstream. Take it or leave it)
Post-May 2014, the fringe of our polity took the centrestage. A Muslim is lynched to death on allegations of eating beef, a Dalit is driven to suicide for standing against the popular ‘nationalistic’ notions and those politically opposed to Modi-led BJP are termed as haramzade and advised to leave for Pakistan. Under the garb of nationalism, students are arrested but those publicly assaulting journalists and professors are left unchecked. But the most depressing outcome of all the above unfortunate occurrences is that the Prime Minister, who is quite arguably the greatest orator of this nation, chose to maintain silence.
His silence is deafening. It draws either of the two conclusions. First, his elected Government is toothless to act against the nefarious elements of Sangh Parivar. Second, Modi’s silence is his muted endorsement of the all the blatant right-wingism exhibited by his won lawmakers, legislators and partymen.
Though one may argue that fringe elements should be ignored in order to keep them away from the mainstream. But when a Union Minister goes on mongering hate against the minorities, then the Government could not turn a blind eye. Minister of State (MoS) for HRD, Ram Shankar Katheria shared dais of a condolence event organized by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) where the distinguished speakers threatened to wage a war against the Muslim community. They were equated with ‘demons’, promised to be ‘eliminated’ and warned of bloodstained retaliation to any of their provocation. (ALSO READ: Muslims equated to descendants of Ravana, threatened in Sangh Parivar meet; MoS Ram Shankar Katheria asks Hindus to show their strength)
Katheria himself joined the hate-mongering bandwagon and said, “Hindus have to unite to fight against the conspiracy being hatched against us. Before another Arun (deceased VHP leader allegedly killed by local Muslims) dies, we have to do something which would force these murderers to run away. If the administration thinks that I’m a minister and my hands are tied now, then they are highly mistaken.”
Another BJP MP Babulal Chowdhary from Fatehpur Sikri went ahead and said, “Don’t try to test us. We will not tolerate…Lets fix a date and take on Muslims.” BJP MLA Jagan Prasad Garg told the frenzied mob that it’s time to wield their weapons against the Muslims. Fire bullets, take up rifles. Weild knives…Elections are approaching and we need to be strong.”
The least the nation could expect from the Prime Minister is to compel his party to suspend the legislators and lawmakers. Although, the speeches have been made on record, no legal action shall be initiated. Government has adopted a muted stand.
However, Modi still has the chance of proving that he is not affiliated with the fringe. By dismissing Katheria from his ministership, Modi could send out a strong message to minorities. The message would be whole-heartedly received bhy a huge chunk of the community who does not believe in the politics of victimhood as propogated by the Owaisi brothers of Hyderabad or the age-old ‘secular brigade’ of the nation. Would the Prime Minister act? Or would he silently endorse it? The ball is in Narendra Modi’s court.