Skip to main content

Politics and prejudice: BJP, Congress converged with hysterical attacks on AAP

By Kamal Mitra Chenoy*The suicide (I won't call it a stunt gone wrong), of Gajendra has been a matter of wild speculation. Apoorvanand's article in The Indian Express, 25 April, has made some valid points about this tragedy. But his assertion "that all that he wanted to do was to create a spectacle which would force the crowd or leaders or police to converge under the tree...and pleaded with him to climb down."
This the author surmised was so because, "He wanted...to be helped to be able to return home, from where he was forced out." Yet his family owns some 90 bighas of land, so he was a rich peasant with his crop not badly damaged, and his family was convinced that he couldn't have committed suicide.
But the other assertions are equally speculative. For example, the description of the AAP leaders on the stage. The claim that AAP leaders virtually ignored Gajendra because "The AAP leaders were upset with this protest...They suffer from a strange sense of entitlement...for they are the 'party of protest.' "
The NDTV footage of what happened showed the AAP leaders concern over the incident, with one of the leaders appealing to Gajendra to climb down and come to the stage and speak from there.
It would have been much better, if AAP stopped the rally after this tragedy. But his assertion that AAP spokespersons were belligerent and (implicitly) were callous, is untenable. Arvind Kejriwal was openly self critical. AAP sent a team to Dausa and gave ₹10 lakhs to the bereaved family and offered to fund the children's education, as well as bear the costs of a family marriage.
The Delhi police, of course, is hounding AAP with charges of abetting suicide, common intent, among other charges, but little is being said about that. But Apoorvanand accuses "the spokespersons of the ruling party of Delhi let out filth with stunning ferocity."
This is a singularly unfortunate exaggeration. One would expect Apoorvanand, a noted scholar and resolute secularist, to have also criticised the BJP and Congress. Both converged with hysterical attacks on AAP with some even putting pressure on some channels to allege that Gajendra was murdered. But on this he has been silent.
Politicising farmer's suicide
Gajendra Singh Rathore's tragic suicide has become political. It was bound to for this reason: Gajendra Singh died at an AAP rally on 22 April in Jantar Mantar. This was a sufficient excuse to attack AAP which has routed both the BJP and Congress in the Delhi Assembly. So these parties have levelled unsubstantiated charges against AAP. The Union government controls the police.
It should be noted that senior police officers including Police Commissioner Bassi have attended social occasions hosted by NDA leaders, allegedly including outside Delhi. The police as expected is putting the bulk of the blame on AAP with stringent sections of the IPC and CrPC being levelled against Arvind Kejriwal and his colleagues.
To avoid partiality in investigations, AAP has appointed a magisterial inquiry. The police refused to cooperate, though reportedly it has cooperated in such an inquiry in the past. The media, initially biased, now after the NDTV and other videos knows that Gajendra Singh was asked to climb down by two AAP leaders including Manish Sisodia who gestured to AAP cadre to bring him down and Kumar Vishwas who pleaded to Gajendra to climb down. He was requested to come and speak from the platform. The police present in large numbers was appealed to from the podium to bring Gajendra down.
While the family was given compensation and promises of education for his children, and support for the marriage of a family member, they have lost a father/ son/ relative. But there has been a great loss for law and order. A police force that appears to be coerced by the Union government and allegedly frames disproportionate charges, for all its training and dedication, loses public confidence and is seen as politicised.
The BJP and Congress have come out as brazen opportunists. While a section of the media was skeptical and at least partially aware at what was going on, another section tried to curry favour with the BJP. One channel, in fact, claimed that Gajendra's suicide was "motivated murder."
This is what our politics and democratic institutions have come to. All the while farmers are dying and starving. Not only should the land acquisition Bill be revoked, but large unpaid monthly instalments to MGNREGA have been pending for long.
As Oliver Goldsmith wrote during the enclosures movement, when common land was privatised in England, "princes and lords may flourish or may fade, a breath can make them as a breath has made, but the bold peasantry a country's pride, when once destroyed can never be supplied."
---
*Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.