Narendra Modi needs to dump the Shiv Sena and crack the whip within the BJP

The biggest credibility challenge that Narendra Modi faces is to convince Indians – and the outside world – that he represents something much larger, secular and inclusive than the narrow, religiously-bigoted  and exclusive position espoused by the RSS and some even more extreme Hindu nationalist groups. But he has to do this equitably but without giving the perception of appeasing the Muslim fanatics.

And he has to clean his own house first. His ally in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena, is now an embarrassment and a liability. Within his own party also there is no dearth of intellectually retarded loud-mouths. They are all now a burden and unless he cuts them down to size they have the potential to negate all his efforts to be  inclusive.

The Shiv Sena is a special case and I think Modi can afford to dump them. They have just made utter fools of themselves:

IBNA video has now surfaced showing Shiv Sena Thane MP Rajan Vichare forcing a Maharashtra Sadan Muslim staffer to eat during his Ramzan fast. CNN-IBN has accessed footage which shows Vichare force feeding the staffer.

The video gives credence to the allegations that Shiv Sena MPs abused the employee and forced him to eat, even as the Shiv Sena continues to deny the claims. Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday said that the claims being made by the Opposition are false.

DNATaking law and order into his own hands is not something new for Rajan Vichare, the Shiv Sena MP from Thane who force-fed a Muslim catering supervisor to break his Ramzan fast at Maharashtra Sadan last week. In the last 25 years, around 24 cases have been registered against the senior Sena leader in various police stations of Thane. 

Defending his recent act, Vichare said, “I was protesting against the quality of food at Maharashtra Sadan.” Later, Vichare was forced to apologise and issued a statement saying, “I regret if anyone’s religious sentiments were hurt. I did not know that the employee was a Muslim. I respect all religions and have even attended roza as well as iftar parties.

The Shiv Sena party leader, Uddhav Thackeray, has been engaged in some verbal contortions while apologising – but not seeming to apologise – and has been reduced to mumbling that it was all about the food quality and nothing to do with religion. But Shiv Sena is not the force it was when his father Bal Thackeray was in charge. Neither intellectually nor politically. When no party member dared to deviate from the party line as determined by Bal Thackeray. (I recall when I regularly used to meet the Minister of Power – who was then a Shiv Sena nominee in the coalition government of the time. First it was Suresh Prabhu and later it was Anant Geete. After every substantive meeting, I usually had to go to Bombay to meet Bal Thackeray and reconfirm whatever had been discussed with the Minister). Uddhav Thackeray does not have that sort of iron control over his party members and they are now apparently rushing around – the analogy is headless chickens – all doing their own thing. The Shiv Sena remains a force – if only in Maharashtra – but they are in a declining spiral and my reading is that it would be least damaging for Modi to dump them now – early on in his term – and cap his losses.

With his own party members Modi will just have to lay down the law and get rid of the intellectually challenged. And there are quite a few of them.

The BJP leader in Telegana, a certain K Laxman, of no great intellectual stature (and not to be confused with VVS Laxman), has been stupid enough to attack a leading Indian sports star – because she happens to be Muslim and is married to a Pakistani. He was idiot enough to attack Sania Mirza the tennis player. If there is one thing that unites Indians and transcends politics and religion and caste, it is sport. And cricket and tennis lead all the rest.

FirstPostIn a statement that could almost have been designed to reclaim the ‘pointlessly offensive’ tag from Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare, Telangana BJP leader K Laxman on Wednesday slammed the TRS government’s decision to appoint tennis star Sania Mirza as brand ambassador of Telangana, terming her a “daughter-in-law of Pakistan”.

“Sania was born in Maharashtra and settled in Hyderabad only later and, hence, is a non-local”, he told reporters, pointing out that she is married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. “If 1956 is the criteria for deciding the nativity of Telangana, where was Sania born and when did she come to Hyderabad? And whom she married should also be a criterion for selecting her.”

So much for aman ki asha.

The comment has predictably created an uproar with members of the TRS, the Congress and other opposition figures falling over each other to criticise it, and for good reason. The statement reflects a toxic combination of anti-Muslim bigotry and sexism that is the preserve of rightwing ideologues.

Tags: , , , , , ,


%d bloggers like this: