Anurag Thakur’s Hate Speech Must Be Condemned
Justice Markandey Katgue argues that in India elections are not contested on real issues like poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, lack of healthcare and good education, etc but on emotional issues like building Ram Mandir on so called Ram Janmabhoomi. In the latest instance, Union Minister of State Anurag Thakur practiced hate speech at an election rally.
Union Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, must be credited for taking Indian politics to a higher virulent and toxic level than ever before.
At an election rally for the forthcoming Delhi Assembly elections on 8th February, he shouted from a podium “Desh ke gaddaaron ko?” (What to do with the trators?”, and sure enough, the bloodthirsty mob, like the one calling for hanging of Cinna the poet merely because he bore the same name as one of the murderers of Caesar (in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar) shouted in response “Goli maaron” (Shoot them).
Everyone knows that in India elections are not contested on real issues like poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, lack of healthcare and good education, etc but on emotional issues like building Ram Mandir on so called Ram Janmabhoomi (which increased the BJP’s seats in the Lok Sabha from 2 in 1984 to 183 in 1999), cow protection, bashing the devil called Pakistan (the Balakot attack was of great help to the BJP, which was projected as a party of ‘chowkidars’ in the 2019 elections which gave it 303 seats), etc.
But the sheer brazenness of Anurag Thakur’s slogan really takes the cake. And the beauty of it is that it cannot be called an election corrupt practice under section 123 (3A) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, since it is delightfully vague.
Section 123(3A) regards as a corrupt practice. “The promotion, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.”
Now the candidate was present in the meeting in which Anurag Thakur said this, so his statement was certainly with the consent of the candidate. But did it promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different communities or castes? There is nothing in the statement which expressly does so, and it is well settled that an election malpractice must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, like a criminal offence.
Who are the ‘desh ke gaddaar‘ who deserve to be shot? The expression can have any number of meanings. It can mean minorities like Muslims and Christians, who are perceived as terrorists and anti national. It can mean all those who are anti BJP. It can mean liberals. It can mean JNU, AMU and Jamia students. It can mean many other things.
Thakur claims that he never said ‘Goli maaro’, and that was said by the crowd, but of course no one will be led away by this obfuscation.
In our opinion if the BJP wins the forthcoming Delhi Assembly elections (and we think it will) the primary credit must go to Anurag Thakur, much more than to Amit Shah. The latter only spoke of pressing the button of an EVM machine to disperse the anti CAA crowd in Shaheen Bagh. The former, on the other hand, has raised hatred against the undefined ‘ desh drohis ‘ to a feverish venomous pitch, and now the bloodthirsty mob will seek out the Cinnas to hang them for their bad verses.
By advocating violence, Anurag Thakur has opened a new dimension in Indian politics, which will resemble the last years of the Weimar Republic in Germany when strong arm thugs like the S.A. and S.S. roamed the streets of Berlin, Munich etc winning arguments not by words but by breaking skulls.
Though the Preamble to our Constitution declares India as a secular Republic, the ground reality is very different. In India most Hindus ( 80-90% ) are communal, and so are most Muslims. This is because secularism is a feature of industrial society, but India is still semi feudal.
Till 2014 communalism was usually latent in India and erupted only occasionally, but thereafter it has become open, virulent and continuous. Anurag Thakur’s statement will open up a Nazi era in Indian politics.
Several BJP Ministers were present with Anurag Thakur including Manish Chaudury, the party’s candidate from Rithala. Amit Shah also addressed the very same rally. The party’s divisive politics by blatantly spreading hatred of minorities has been present ever since its inception, but now it has reached a superlative violent level.
As already mentioned above, India has always been communal, but latently. With the advent of the BJP ruled government in 2014, however, this latent communalism has become open and virulent. We are now plagued with political leaders who fearlessly spread hatred and spout venom against the Indian minorities and anyone who dares to speak in their support. The gullible Indian masses have been largely polarised by Goebbelsian propaganda of our politicians, and now, just like the fickle Roman mob was whipped up by Mark Antony into a murderous frenzy in the famous play of Shakespeare, they are being goaded on to a murderous path.
The Delhi Election Officer, on being informed of the speech, has no doubt stated that ‘necessary action’ will be taken, but one is skeptical as to whether anything will be done.
Some people may think that Anurag Thakur’s speech will adversely affect BJP’s poll prospects, but the truth is otherwise. The BJP thrives on Muslim bashing, and will greatly benefit by this blatant appeal to violence.
The great German leader Bismarck in a speech in 1862 to the Prussian Landtag said “The great issues of the day will not be decided by votes and speeches but by blood and iron (blut und eisen) “. Indian politics too seems to be headed in the same direction, though in a very different sense.
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.