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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 40 September 30, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Sept 30, 2023

Saturday 30 September 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Sept 30, 2023

Over the past decades particularly in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 communal divisions have grown in society, and most of all in an accelerated fashion under the two-term (2014-2019) BJP Government at the center led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Communal speech and language of hate have seeped into everyday life and culture. There is a banalisation of offensive language and hateful reference to minorities and towards opposition politicians; Such speech is designed to hurt, to divide and to consolidate the Hindutva vote bank, and has been routinely delivered by BJP leaders like Narendra Modi, Yogi Adityanath, Giriraj Singh, Anurag Thakur, Pragya Thakur, Hemanta Biswa Sarma and by more militant leaders of the Hindutva extreme Right circles like Yati Narsinghanand (one of the organisers of the Dharam Sansads where inciteful hate speeches have been delivered) or by TV anchors on Far Right TV networks like Sudarshan TV or on the street with hateful sloganeering such as ‘Jab Mullay Katey Jayenge’ in so-called religious marches or during Police assisted Municipal demolition of homes of ‘accused’ or the increasingly popular hate laced religious dance music [1]. Recently, Ramesh Bidhuri a BJP Member of Parliament (MP) used hateful and communal slurs to refer to a Muslim MP inside India’s Parliament during its recent special session [2], [3]. The unparliamentary words that Bidhuri spoke were expunged from parliamentary records. But videos of the speech that was being broadcast live are now etched in public memory. The Speaker of the Parliament issued only a warning to the BJP MP and let him off. In comparison, members of the opposition parties have been suspended from Parliament for far lesser offenses. Failure by the Speaker to take significant action against Bidhuri has sullied the image of Parliament where a certain decorum and civility are to be maintained. The BJP issued a notice to Mr Ramesh Bidhuri but soon after awarded him by appointing him as the poll in-charge of Rajasthan’s Tonk assembly seat. [4]. A large number of members of Parliament from India’s opposition parties have rightfully called out the inaction against hateful slurs inside the Parliament and have expressed their solidarity with the victim Mr. Danish Ali a member of Lok Sabha. Hate speech is here to stay and will require a long concerted public campaign to name and shame politicians who propel this poison for political purposes and to challenge hate speech in all spheres of society.

September 30, 2023 —HK

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