Why BJP is on the back foot in Gujarat over the circulation of Hardik Patel's CD
Sex CDs hitting the political landscape of Gujarat at critical junctures is nothing new in the state that has been under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the last more than two decades. That is why the circulation of a video clip, allegedly of the Patidar youth leader Hardik Patel, just as the campaign for the forthcoming assembly polls is picking up, comes as no surprise.
In fact, it was Hardik himself who had predicted around ten days back that a doctored sex CD would soon be out to defame him. “Soon they will release my sex CD. Enjoy, keep watching,” Hardik had reportedly said.
Hardik's detractors were quick to spread the word around about 'Gujarat's traitor Hardik Patel's kaam leela' accusing him of 'misguiding Patel community' even though the veracity of the video clips are yet to be ascertained.
Fingers, both by Hardik and the Congress, are being pointed at the BJP for putting the CD in circulation even as the party leaders have been denying and distancing themselves from the affair. The saffron party leaders came out saying that the BJP has nothing to do with Hardik's video and instead of blaming the BJP, Hardik should have filed a police complaint.
Whatever be the case, it is clear that the BJP that is now on the back foot when it comes to the perception of masses on the issue.
People are pointing to the previous cases of such CDs emerging in Gujarat. The first instance that had shook the state was in 2005 when an alleged sex CD of the BJP leader Sanjay Joshi had surfaced. That had got tongues wagging with a vast majority alleging that it was an inside job.
Joshi was seen as an arch rival of none other than the then chief minister and present prime minister Narendra Modi. The two had been RSS Pracharaks deputed to the BJP. Following this episode, the quiet Joshi was repatriated to the RSS and he went into political oblivion.
“Even an RSS ideologue had drawn parallels between Shakespeare's Othello and the episode of Joshi's alleged sex CD that surfaced at that time,” pointed out veteran political observer Prakash Shah.
Then it was during the run-up to the 2007 Assembly polls that another CD did the rounds. This time it was allegedly about the state Congress President Bharatsinh Solanki. The veracity of the CD was never established and the episode was used by his detractors to tarnish his image.
Now comes another CD which allegedly has Hardik in it. The purpose for which the CD has been brought out clearly stands defeated as the people are not accepting what Hardik's detractors are trying to convey.
Much ado about nothing?
To begin with, it is being pointed that the CD shows nothing objectionable. The footage reportedly shows Hardik entering a room with a woman and then an empty bed.
The sequence of shots makes it clear that the camera had been installed with the intention of recording what happens in the room. The question being asked is – who had ordered such a surveillance of Hardik or the woman and under what law?
It is not clear whether the young man shown in the video is indeed the Patel quota agitation leader or a 'body double' or someone else.
“The Patel community, particularly the youth, are very upset. They believe that this is a new low in politics and is a vile attempt to defame Hardik. The community is looking at it as an attempt to divide them and reap political gains,” disclosed a young leader from the Patel community.
He further said – “The people are discussing whether the knowledge or circulation of a video of two consenting adults having sex can bring down the prices of essentials that have hit the roof.”
With many pointing the fingers at the BJP, Prakash Shah says that if this is the case, then it simply shows the 'nervousness and desperation of the ruling party'.
“This is also reflective of the no-holds-barred mindset that has come to prominence in Indian politics,” he said.
Ahmedabad-based media professional Mayurika Maya went a step further and questioned how the telecast of such a CD served public interest.
“Even if Hardik has a relationship or even if he had sex with someone with her consent behind closed doors, why should it be questioned? Why should he be answerable for it? He is a mature young man and any woman of mature age having a relationship or consensual sex behind closed doors is not at all a legal or a social offence. Why should media or people take interest in his private life that is doing no harm to the public?” she asks.
Pointing to the manner in which news television went ahead to telecast the controversial video with a disclaimer that they do not endorse its authenticity, observers say that such a balanced attitude of the television channels is a clear departure from their stand during the earlier election when video CDs showing Bharatsinh Solanki with a woman were delivered at media offices by unidentified persons.
The TV channels then did not care to issue any disclaimer about the authenticity of the contents.
People are also questioning he context of the recent arrest of senior journalist Vinod Verma on the charges of possessing and intending to circulate a sex CD of a minister in the BJP-led Chhattisgarh government. He remains in judicial custody since he was arrested late last month.
They are pointing that if the leaking of the Hardik Patel CD is the handiwork of the saffron camp it definitely has no locus standi to talk about the moral or legal aspects of such issues.
An eminent social activist from Ahmedabad Nirjhari Sinha wrote on her Facebook wall – “A senior journalist was picked up by Chhattisgarh police on the allegation that he possessed a sex CD of a minister. Will Gujarat police book those who indulged in surveillance of private room of Hardik and made the sex CD?”