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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2640

The Swinging ‘Batsmen’ Of ‘New’ India

By Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

The two events occurred close to each other: Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ridiculed ‘old’ India for epitomizing nothing but ‘corruption’ and praised the ‘new’ India he claims to be building; in distant Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, the MLA son of a BJP general secretary, Kailash Vijayvargiya, was caught on the camera beating a civic official because he had come to supervise the demolition of an old building declared dangerous.

What is more, the errant son of the BJP leader became a hero in the eyes of BJP supporters and posters hailing him went up all over his home city. The father shooed away a TV reporter by questioning the latter’s ‘aukat’ (literally status) when the leader was asked to comment on the aggressive ‘batting’ display of his son.

The BJP, like on so many other similar occasions in the past that showed the party in poor light, decided to keep quiet and seemed in no hurry to reprimand Akash Vijayvargiya, the son, who was sent to judicial custody but perhaps only because the state is no more ruled by the BJP.

In the matter of publicly assaulting, the case of a union minister raining shoes on a doctor in Karnataka stands apart. The minister drew no reproach from his party. He made frequent statements that all but the BJP found objectionable.

But doctors, civic and other officials have not been the only one at the receiving end of the ruling party members’ fury. Their daring acts have apparently especially inspired those who drive on the highways. Hardly a week passes without a report of a driver or ‘occupants’ of a car on the highway not beating toll plaza attendants, either with a ‘bat’ or, sometimes, with something more lethal like the pistol. It is quite possible that most of the aggressors have a connect with the ruling party. The under-paid toll attendant victims are often young women who are too scared to return to their job. Providing them security and safety from lethal attacks is not in the agenda of ‘new’ India.

Modi, of course, bears no direct responsibility for the unwanted and unacceptable acts of his party men and women or, for that matter, ordinary citizens. But after more than five years as prime minister, he must surely be aware that people like Akash Vijayvargiya have brought discredit to his party and administration. He must be also aware that men like Akash Vijayvargiya live in an atmosphere where those who belong to the ruling party have nothing or little to worry about being prosecuted.

Maybe, the Modi administration does not feel concerned about this or any other kind of lawlessness because the 2019 polls have showed that the people of the country want Modi to continue to rule them. The people seem to have happily suffered all the ‘pain’ that Modi himself said might have been inflicted on them.

Modi talked about ‘new’ India for more than an hour in the Upper House during which, he claimed credit for building a ‘new’ India of unprecedented progress and criticised the Congress for giving nothing but a corruption-ridden government and failing the nation by not making zero progress. He looked peeved when the leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said that he would rather have ‘old’ India of tolerance and freedom than Modi’s ‘new’ India where a large number of people live under constant fear and propaganda drowns out unpleasant facts.

Modi does not see any shortcomings in his rule and, hence, does not feel the need to talk about issues related to the economy that have affected millions and shocked at least a few hundred thousand like mobs enjoying the freedom to beat people for not raising slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’ or on suspicion of being beef eaters.

Modi’s ‘new’ India brings shame to the country when a 23-year-old Muslim man is beaten mercilessly by a saffron crowd in Jharkhand because of his religion and the blows did not stop even when he shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ . He died later while in police custody because that is where the police took him for questioning rather than a hospital. The country’s image does not shine when the US state department in its annual report comments adversely on religious tolerance in India.

The largely pro-Modi mainstream media has felt compelled to report on the numerous instances of mob lynching and increasing number of attacks on minorities and people of the so-called lower castes. The government might have fudged some of the official statistics, but even the available statistics relating to mob lynching and ‘hate’ crimes in the country have established a rise in numbers which do not fit with the image of a ‘new’ India.

Modi may have to rethink his concept of a ‘new’ India to make it look just, egalitarian and assure treatment of all citizens as equal. A ‘new’ India cannot be built without first eliminating or minimizing violence related to religion or any form of discrimination. Modi’s 2014 slogan of ‘Sab ka saath, sab ka haath’ turned out to be a ‘jumla’; now the add-on word ‘vishwas’ (trust) in his earlier slogan is also in danger of ending as a ‘jumla’.

- Asian Tribune –

BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s son,  Akash Vijayvargiya,  a first-time MLA of the party, was arrested in Indore Wednesday after he assaulted a civic body official with a cricket bat.
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