“We must speak the language which the folks understand…”
– Joseph Goebbels
“I must not measure the speech of a statesman to his people by the impression it makes on a university professor but rather by the effect it has on the folk.”
– Adolf Hitler
“…In the next months how we conduct ourselves here I’ll decide who sits on this side of the house and who on that side…”
– Narendra Modi
All three of these messages were heard well by the Bharatiya Janata Party member of parliament Ramesh Bidhuri.
The special session of the parliament ended with Bidhuri hurling abuses on the Muslim MP Kunwar Danish Ali. It was a befitting end to a farcical session which is being propagated as historical. Many good souls have been shocked by the video of the session in the parliament in which Bidhuri, the BJP MP representing South Delhi is seen using communal slurs to attack Ali.
However sad it is, should we be surprised?
In the journey we started in 2014 we were bound to reach here. We were destined to be witness to this ruling obscenity. We must not try to hide from it.
Danish Ali himself repeated those abuses in front of the press. A Muslim MP is telling us that this is the language of BJP for Muslims. We must perhaps listen to it again and again, and know that this is the real face of this country. There is no escape now.
It is not surprising that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who keeps tweeting every now and then, has decided to maintain silence for more than 36 hours after his MP’s anti-Muslim rant. It is also not surprising that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla, who keeps suspending opposition MPs on the most frivolous grounds has only given a warning to the abusive MP. One cannot fail to see that the BJP is creating a culture of anti-Muslim abuse under the leadership of Modi.
So it was no surprise that BJP MPs Harsh Vardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad, who have enjoyed the hospitality of many Muslims, could not hide the apparent fun they got from their friend MP’s anti-Muslim abuse. The two were seen laughing and despite both their claims that they do not support Bidhuri’s comments, it is easy to see why they belong to the same party.
Once the BJP – and that too the Modi-led BJP – was tasked to form the government by a section of voters who had internalised the politics of ‘Hindutva’, it was impossible that parliament would not become a forum for abuses and hate against Muslims. Modi, who gained notoriety over the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom, was toasted by the country’s big industrialists and a section of its intellectuals as the hope of the country and carried to parliament and government on their shoulders.
Modi is not exactly known for his disdain for violence and foul language. He has not hidden his hatred towards Muslims and Christians. He has also repeatedly posited the interests of Muslims against those of the Hindus. Who can forget his “Hum paanch humare pachis” jibe against Muslims or insinuating that the relief camps of Muslims were actually factories for producing terrorists? Modi has always made it clear that his politics is based on anti-Muslim hatred and has never tried to shed that image . He knows that he is loved by his folk for this very reason.
There is a direct relationship between anti-Muslim violence or hatred and incivility. Crudity and obscenity cannot be separated from it. It cannot be that you accept violence and killing of Muslims and turn your nose up at abuses against them. Abuses precede or accompany murder.
Slurs are literal expressions of hatred and violence. India’s Dalits understand this well. The verbal abuser knows that the person being abused cannot answer back. Verbal abuse is an effective weapon to repeatedly humiliate, undermine and prove inferior. Jews would tell you that the Holocaust was a culmination of a long culture of expressions of anti-Jewish hatred nurtured by the Nazis.
It has been done on the streets, in schools, and everywhere with Muslims. Hindus infected by this virus are well versed in modern technologies and use social media to abuse Muslims in the most creative and vilest forms. Everyone knows that it is difficult for Muslims to respond to this.
The verbal abuses that a BJP MP unleashed at a Muslim MP are ones that Hindu society cannot run away from. These are the same words that are now recited in the form of songs, slogans, and as chants on many festivals to give sacred joy to a section of Hindus. There is no evidence that those who take pride in being Hindu have objected to or stopped such verbal abuses being aired on loudspeakers. More and more people are now becoming devotees of such ‘Babas’ and ‘Sadhavis’, whose sermons are nothing but a torrent of abuses against Muslims, to incite violence against them.
It is not difficult to understand the humiliation of being forced to remain silent after being subjected to such abuses, repeatedly. When a whole community is compelled to bear with it, what does it mean for the self image of that community?
By saying, “These abuses are not new, Muslims hear them everyday from the mouths of ordinary Hindus, so why are you so shocked?” we are undermining the gravity of the crime that the BJP MP has committed.
It is being said that the privilege enjoyed by MPs can be used to platform anti-Muslim slurs. That parliament can be made a place to humiliate Muslims. The full meaning of the Sengol installation, a symbol of ‘Hindu power’ in parliament, could be revealed only by the anti-Muslim slurs of the BJP MP.
It also exposes the reality of the abuser, especially his claim to be civilised.
In the BJP you need to be crude and foul if you want to rise. This is proved by the fact that all leaders joining it are competing with each other – and established foul mouths like Modi and Adityanath – to prove that they are no less. They have to prove that they are worthy of being considered as BJP leaders by humiliating the opposition or the Muslims. Himanta Biswa Sarma is an example of this.
It would not do to lament. It is futile to ask the BJP and the PM to draw a line as they have always been legitimisers and enablers of this anti-Muslim hatred.