Bharatiya Janata Party has given us some stellar leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Sushma Swaraj who were known not just for their oratory skills but for their content as well. Sadly that is not the case anymore. We now have a group of leaders who say things that makes you want to rip out your ears in disgust.
The tragic part is that this hate-mongering propaganda comes from ministers in the central government who do not even think twice before spewing out such venomous drivel. The recent examples of Smriti Irani and Babul Supriyo are only a small addition to the long list of leaders in the saffron brigade who are constantly engaged in peddling unverified information with such confidence on public platforms. Either they are naive enough to believe the fake news that comes from the WhatsApp university – in which case they are not fit to continue as ministers or leaders in their own party – or that they themselves circulate such vitriolic lies in public to obfuscate the reality and win some more votes in the process – in which case they are not fit to continue as ministers or leaders in their own party.
Lies, lies and more lies?
Union Minister of Textiles, Women and Child Development Smriti Irani decided to malign Deepika Padukone and the for standing together with the victims of that God awful terror attack which took place in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on the 5th of January. The insinuations seem to be not just inaccurate but also extremely dangerous. This is exactly what she said on Deepika’s visit to JNU.
It is one thing to disagree with the opinions of public figures and the people (Kanhaiya Kumar, Aishe Ghosh and students affiliated to left unions) she was standing in solidarity with. But to level such serious allegations (like the left-wing students at JNU hitting girls in their private parts) or celebrating the deaths of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel without providing any credible evidence (I haven’t come across news corroborating Mrs. Irani’s statement) is not just irresponsible but defamatory as well.
I remember watching her in news programs when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power. During those days she used to sound remarkably convincing when it came to criticizing that government and its policies. I don’t feel that conviction anymore. Not just because her arguments, are mostly devoid of logic but it is an open secret that BJP has been making deliberate attempts to spread hateful propaganda about anyone who dares to criticize the government. This goes against the liberal attitude of most of out country folk and sooner or later the BJP will have to pay for their sins.
Why are Ministers vehemently promoting fake news?
Babul Supriyo (Minister of state for Environment, Forest and Climate Change) was seen on Times Now peddling a lie that Deepika and Meghna Gulzar, the director of Chhapaak (based on the real-life story of Laxmi A, portrayed the acid attacker as a Hindu in the movie when the person who attacked reality he is a Muslim. This lie was based on news articles carried out by a section of the media.
The insinuation behind this lie was that Chhapaak, and by extension Deepika is trying to appease Muslims and thus we must doubt her motives behind actions like showing solidarity with the left students at JNU. Basically, the story was planted to paint her and the people she was supporting as anti-Hindu and maybe even anti-national.
Not surprisingly, this story was immediately debunked by Alt News, a fact-checking organization. Watch the video where Mr. Supriyo’s argument is dismantled and given the treatment that it deserved.
And if you feel that I am being partisan or unfair to Mr. Supriyo, please watch the entire telecast of that news debate conducted on Times Now.
This person is a minister in the government of India speaking on a prime time news program that is seen by a huge number of Indian citizens. So it is expected that he would be responsible for his words and deeds. But instead of doing that, he openly endorsed a falsified narrative without verifying the facts. I do not know if he has apologized for his mistake but the fact remains that not only was he gullible enough to fall for a lie but he then went on national TV and blurted it out. I am not accusing him of the insinuation part but shouldn’t he have been more careful before openly associating himself with an untruth?
Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of Mr. Supriyo landing himself in a controversy that he could have sidestepped without much of an effort. According to some reports, he was engaging in open intimidation on twitter with a student from Jadavpur University. You can read about it here, here and here. I am at a loss of words for now so I would request you to make up your own mind and correct me if I am wrong because I am still hoping that these reports are not true.
Tarnishing the legacy of a national party
One may agree or disagree with the views of the BJP stalwarts like Mr. Vajpayee or Mrs. Swaraj but they are admired by one and all because of what they did in their political life. Many of us still recall the mesmerising speeches that they gave both inside and outside the parliament. Their grace, poise and dignified conduct was what drew many people to support the BJP.
Looking at the current crop of leaders in the party, grace and poise are not the first words that come to my mind. The behavior of many of their senior members has been appalling to say the least and their subtle but visible Islamophobic propaganda is repelling to say the least.
A humble plea from my side would be to do a course correction right now. There is still a lot of time till 2024 and some necessary steps towards introspection, realisation and reconciliation would go a long way in rebuilding the party. After all Mr. Vajpayee and Mrs. Swaraj, for all their shortcomings, were among the most successful and adored political personalities of our country and it would bode well for those in power at the moment to follow their footsteps.
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