Northeast beef row: How BJP ministers gave Modi and Hindutva a bad name

The creation of such divides speaks poorly about a nationalist party that has strived for the unity and integration of the country.

 |  3-minute read |   29-05-2015
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Whilst the entire nation was evaluating the performance of the Narendra Modi-led majority government, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had no business biting the bait of Asaduddin Owaisi, a known mischief monger, in the name of religion, diverting focus from governance to trivial communal narratives of Hindu versus Muslim. More absurd is Kiren Rijiju’s sharp retort to Naqvi’s statement and subsequent denial within 24 hours on the ground that he has been misquoted.

In all fairness, Rijiju has been misquoted in so far as “his eating habit is concerned”. However, “Why should Rijiju feel sorry about his food habits” – that’s a question few youngsters of Arunachal have raised on social media. Further, Rijiju’s habit of speaking for the entire Northeast region on trivial issues including “beef eating” or politicising the recent stand-off between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung over the appointment of the acting chief secretary Shakuntala Gamlin - where he attempted to give the confrontation a “racial discrimination” spin instead of arguing on the merit and seniority of Gamlin as was the case - does not augur well for the BJP, which is yet to find a foothold in the region.

The creation of such divides by responsible people in the government speaks poorly about a nationalist party that has strived for the unity and integration of the country, especially at a time youngsters in the region are looking up to the leadership of the BJP to undo wrongdoings of successive (read Congress-led) governments in alienating the region — politically, socially and emotionally.

Therefore, frivolous comments and flip-flop posturing by the “young liberal faces” of the ruling establishment are doing more harm to the BJP's image and causing greater danger to the party’s prospects than the elected leaders who hold an extremist view on socio-political subjects. This has unnecessarily given rise to misgivings about the RSS as well as insinuated Sangh leaders as the brain behind their public posturing.

It is said that RSS' second Sarsangchalak, MS Golwalkar made his views very clear to the people of Northeast, long ago, during one of his visits. “Eating habits cannot be the basis of who is Hindu or non-Hindu”, he is quoted to have said. In that sense, Gowalkar was a liberal who understood the geographical spread of Hindustan and the cultural and social uniqueness associated with each region. Evidently, Hindutva cannot be limited to mere food habits, but at the same time sentiments of the majority within the geographical spread should be respected wherever one resides in this vast country - that has been the age-old cultural ethos.

This raises many questions about the politics surrounding the issue. One question is about the inability of these two junior ministers to resist temptation to speak out of turn and their overshadowing of the first anniversary of a fairly successful Modi government, which can count communal peace and harmony as one of its significant achievements in the past 12 months.

The question is also about the integrity of quicksilver-tongued politicians' distasteful habit of disrespecting unity in diversity and of certain sections within a political establishment being intolerant towards each other’s socio-cultural sentiments.

Above all, it raises the question about the priority of the mainstream media, which plays into the hands of trickster politicians, who are habitual headline-grabbers. It calls into question the media’s innate knack of pushing irrelevant subjects and issues to the centre of debate and discussion - day and night. Given such a context, need we blame politicians, religious leaders and their ilk?


Jarpum Gamlin Jarpum Gamlin @jarpum

Former Corporate Executive turned publisher @EasternSentinel. Founding curator of Itanagar's GlobalShapers - WorldEconomicForum

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