Reading from a yawn-inducing predictable script, the articulate Arun Jaitley condemned the ghastly killing of Mohammad Akhlaq. The Union home minister condemned the communalisation of the killing. The local MP, also a minister in the Modi cabinet, condemned the politicisation of the brutal murder. The killing was an "accident" caused as a result of some misunderstanding. Sangeet Som of the Muzaffarnagar fame vehemently condemned any move to punish innocent Hindu youth of Dadri and accused the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav, of helping the cow-killers. Sadhvi Prachi of the Vishwa Fringe Parishad simply said that beef-eaters deserved such treatment.
All this, just 45km from where the fringe prime minister resides.
This bestial murder of 52-year-old Akhlaq is neither an accident, nor non-political and certainly not a non-communal incident. In the run up to the Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out against meat trade, and clubbed bulls and buffaloes with cows - labelling it as "Pink Revolution", amidst loud applause. Ignoring the livelihood and dietary habits of Dalits, adiwasis and minorities, the Maharashtra and Haryana governments legislated a blanket ban on consumption, slaughter and sale of beef. This dealt a fatal blow to lakhs of Dalit workers employed in abbatoirs, tanneries and other allied industries. The campaign against "Pink Revolution" was political. The legislations to actually ban beef too was a political initiative.
The upper caste controlled Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pays regular lip service to a casteless society but what it actually does through its various affiliates in the name of sanskritisation among the tribal areas of the country is nothing short of what the Taliban did to the Bamiyan Buddha. The indigenous tribal culture in the entire Dandakaranya region is endangered by activities of RSS evangelists. Imposing eating habits through legislation is the natural next step of the same process of sanskritisation being effected by Sangh affiliates.
The message is clear: "We can politicise, even legislate on eating habits, but you cannot politicise the killing of Akhlaq for his purported eating habits, and a bunch of Hindu youth can enter a Muslim house and kill the head of the family, but you cannot call it communal."
It is not what the prime minister says that matters. In fact, he says so much that most of it does not matter anymore. It is his silence which makes him more than complicit in the utterances and activities of those elements that cannot be called fringe anymore. The party and the government both are talking in multiple languages. And the intent of all these comments is so transparent that even before the prime minister decides to speak, he should first silence them all - fringe or mainstream.
With 282 seats in his pocket, Modi must have a reason to be unable or unwilling to silence these voices. But the silence of the otherwise glib and Twitter-active prime minister raises a more important and discomforting question: Who is he speaking through - Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Sangeet Som, Sadhvi Prachi or worse - the killers of Akhlaq?