From the Viewsroom

On a hate campaign

Preeti Mehra | Updated on February 05, 2020 Published on February 05, 2020

No elected representative should be allowed to foment violence

We must recognise that our democracy is in peril when our elected representatives spew venom, encouraging citizens to indulge in acts of extreme violence. The ‘hate’ campaign unleashed in the backdrop of the anti-CAA protests and the Delhi Assembly elections is one deeply disturbing example.

It was none other than Union Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, who kicked off the current cycle of irresponsible campaigning on January 27 when he egged on his audience at an election rally in North Delhi to chant “shoot down the traitors (read anti-CAA protesters) who betray the country.” Three days later, a young man wielding a gun, identified as Ram Bhagat Gopal Sharma, fired at protesters outside Jamia Millia Islamia University, injuring one student. The gunman, shouting pro-Hindutva slogans, went about his attack even as the large posse of policemen posted at the venue watched as mute spectators.

Picking up the threadfrom Thakur, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath while campaigning in Delhi on February 1 proclaimed at a public rally that those opposed to the citizenship law were supporting terrorists in Kashmir. He also alleged Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was “supplying Biryani” to the protesters. Hours after his speech, a 25-year-old man fired shots in the air at Shaheen Bagh, the heart of the anti-CAA campaign. To add insult to injury, BJP MP Parvesh Verma called Kejriwal a terrorist. He even reiterated to a TV channel later that he did not regret his statement.

If all this was not enough, BJP MP from Karnataka and former Union Minister Ananthkumar Hegde stoked the fire by claiming Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom struggle was a “staged drama” with British sanction. For good measure, he added that his “blood boiled” when he read history books referring to such a person as “the Mahatma.” Th is reportedly evoked the displeasure of the Prime Minister.

But a mild rebuke is not enough. Statements that provoke extreme passions and insult national icons must be condemned in no uncertain terms, and the guilty must be punished. In fact, it is time for all political parties to impress upon their leaders to refrain from making intemperate statements that spread venom. Being an elected representative comes with responsibility that must be honoured. Our politicians must remember that it does not give them the licence to spread hatred and hurt.

The writer is Editorial Consultant with BusinessLine

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Published on February 05, 2020
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