New Delhi: Nearly 48 hours after a statue of Lenin was razed to the ground in Tripura, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence and condemned the escalating violence across the state. Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) have unleashed widespread violence across Tripura following the party’s massive victory in assembly polls which ended the 25-year rule of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M).
A press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office today, March 7, said, “Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has strongly condemned the reported incidents of vandalism in certain parts of the country and said stern action will be taken against those found guilty. Incidents of the toppling of statues have been reported from certain parts of the country.”
The government release further added that taking “serious note of incidents of vandalism”, the home ministry has asked state governments to take “all necessary measures,” to prevent such incidents. “Persons indulging in such acts must be sternly dealt with and booked under relevant provisions of law,” the government warned.
The prime minister’s delayed response comes after senior leaders of his party, including the governor of Tripura, have implicitly and explicitly, endorsed the acts of vandalism. For instance, consider the response of Tathagata Roy, Tripura governor and former BJP chief in West Bengal. Sharing a photo of the BJP workers bringing down the Lenin statue on Twitter on March 5, Roy said, “What one democratically elected government can do, another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa”.
What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa https://t.co/Og8S1wjrJs
— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) March 5, 2018
Not just Roy, Ram Madhav, the BJP national secretary in-charge of the Northeast, too lent his support to the act of vandalism by tweeting a photo of the incident. “People taking down Lenin’s statue … not in Russia, it is in Tripura. ‘Chill Paltai,” he said. Later he deleted the tweet.
The opposition says that the overt and covert justification held out by senior BJP functionaries and even a constitutional head like the Tripura governor has emboldened BJP leaders in other states to hold out threats of similar acts of vandalism.
H. Raja, BJP’s Tamil Nadu general secretary, went to the extent of putting up an inflammatory Facebook post. “Lenin’s statues were destroyed in Tripura, tomorrow, in Tamil Nadu, casteist Periyar’s statues will be destroyed,” said Raja.
On Tuesday, two men vandalised a statue of Periyar in Tirupattur. Describing them as “drunk”, the police identified one of them as a BJP activist and the other as an activist of the Communist Party of India.
Meanwhile, BJP workers continue to target CPI(M) cadres in Tripura. Quoting CPI(M) leaders in Tripura, a report in the Indian Express said that hounded by the BJP, CPI(M) workers are now seeking refuge in the only party office that is now functional. Out of a total of 90, 87 offices were ransacked, occupied or burnt down over the last 48 hours.
(With PTI inputs)