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Doublespeak: Does Modi’s tough talk matter when Togadia backs the gau goons?

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 17 July 2017, 19:58 IST

It is no co-incidence that on the very day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to send out a message against so-called ‘cow vigilantes’, Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Pravin Togadia asked them to fear no one.

Togadia may not be a constitutional authority, but he and Modi are products of the same school of thought. While Modi urged state governments to take “tough action” against violence in the name of cow-protection, Togadia said gau-rakshaks shouldn't come under any pressure and continue the work they were doing.

Modi's purported rebuke too was quite equivocal, just like his previous statements on the issue, with the embedded stress on the importance of protecting the cow.

He merely said there were laws to ensure that and people must not resort to illegality. This is not the first time that Modi appeared to have spoken against such acts but his words have not had any effect so far. Such attacks continue and have only intensified. Unsuspecting victims are now thrashed only for belonging to a community that has come to be criminally typecast as beef-eater.

That, in essence, is the objective of this dog-whistle politics around the cow. It is an essential tool of the Sangh Parivar that serves its goal of polarising and consolidating the Hindu vote. Many of the assailants caught in cases of attacks related to suspected transportation of beef or live cows have been found to have direct linkages with VHP or Bajrang Dal.

The Sangh Parivar's group of organisations have local chapters in districts across the country that hire thugs and make them carry out attacks in the name of protecting the cow. The idea is to create an atmosphere of fear and target Muslims, painting all of them as beef-eaters and therefore enemy of the Hindus.

Part of the game-plan appears to be to get the Parivar's political faces to condemn such crimes in public so that a duality can be maintained. Privately, however, it is made sure that the condemnation has no impact on the action that is actually happening on the ground. The evidence of this duality lies not just in the fact that the number of such crimes is not coming down, but also in some of the public actions that BJP leaders and BJP governments have been doing.

Union Minister Mahesh Sharma had backed the alleged killers of Mohammad Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri and had offered condolences to the family of one of the alleged killers when he died. The family had kept the latter's body draped in the national flag and Sharma never objected to it. He is yet to express regret.

Sharma's colleague Sanjeev Balyan, an accused in the Muzaffarnagar-riots of 2013, also cleverly condoned Akhalq's murder by demanding a probe into who else ate the 150 kilos of beef so that action could be taken against them. Apart from these two, there is a long list of BJP leaders who took a stand against Akhlaq and his family and in support of the alleged killers.

Then there's the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in markets that the union government recently brought in. The purported logic is to save the cows from illegal trafficking but the real reason is to polarise people using cow as bait. When will the BJP-RSS shun this divisive politics?

Edited by Joyjeet Das

First published: 17 July 2017, 19:58 IST
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.