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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 31, July 26, 2014

Outrageous Act, Criminal Connivance

Saturday 26 July 2014, by SC


What happened at New Delhi’s New Maha-rashtra Sadan on July 22 was indeed shocking, shameful and outrageous even by the standards of boorishness associated with the Shiv Sena, one of the trusted allies of the BJP heading the ruling NDA coalition government at the Centre. A group of 11 Shiv Sena MPs, apparently angry at not being served quality Maharashtrian food at the Sadan, resorted to vandalism which is quite natural for such elements, but one of them crossed the limits of propriety and decency by forcing a Muslim catering worker of the Indian Railways subsidiary IRCTC (which is catering for the Sadan) to eat a chapati even though the latter was fasting for Ramzan.

Within hours the IRCTC stopped all operations in protest and complained to the Maharashtra Resident Commissioner stating that the concerned employee had been “deeply pained and hurt... as religious sentiments are attached”. Consequently the Resident Commissioner had to apologise to the IRCTC. The Maharashtra Government has promised to examine the matter and take “appropriate action” even as the MPs claimed they were “insulted” at the Sadan while denying the allegations against them. The current Sena supremo, Uddhav Thac-keray, has taken the same line and asserted that “insult to the Maratha manoos will not be tolerated” ever. This once more exposes the Sena’s mindset steeped as it is in both regional chauvinism and communalism.

The Opposition MPs in the Lok Sabha, justifiably incensed over the incident that revealed the extent to which the BJP-led NDA could go in attacking unity in diversity which characterises the idea of India, expressed their vehement opposition to the Sena MPs’ behaviour and wanted immediate action against the aforementioned MP who thrust a chapati in the mouth of the IRCTC employee. As the Congress and other Opposition MPs jointly pro-tested on the issue, those in the Treasury Benches squirmed thereby manifesting their deep discom-fiture. For the first time the isolation of the Modi Government was complete.

The BJP spokesmen in TV channels pleaded with the party’s political opponents not to “communalise” the issue. It was quite hilarious to find the BJP, which itself had communalised the pre-election situation in UP through the Muzaffarnagar riots in particular, speaking on these lines!

But in all these developments the larger picture should not be missed. With a substantive majority in the Lower House the BJP-led NDA is gradually coming out in its true colours. A BJP MP’s attack on tennis star Sania Mirza on her being appointed the brand ambassador of Telangana simply because, according to him, she was a “daughter-in-law of Pakistan” is a case in point. (The BJP leadership has distanced itself from its MP’s statement on the issue but refrained from taking action against or condemning him.) Its anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistani agenda is bound to come out in bold relief in the days ahead.

As of now, however, the Modi Government’s silence on the Shiv Sena MP’s outrageous act clearly underlines the BJP’s criminal connivance with its ally, to say the least.

July 24 S.C.