For almost quarter of a century, ever since Indian politics was mandalised, the alphabets B & C when put sequentially, denoted backward castes. In the Bharatiya Janata Party, this has new meaning now: Beef and Cancer!
Back-benchers in class always have a piquant relationship with class monitors. Mostly, the monitor tries to be in the good books of the Principal or other deputies. Since back-benchers resent allocation of the disciplinarian's role to someone else over their hopes, they waste few opportunities to rush out of the classroom after being chided and immediately create another unpleasant situation.
The BJP president, Amit Shah's office put out no so discreetly that the uncontrollable boys (ladies were spared this round though) of the fringe had been summoned and were to be told in no uncertain terms that vitriol had to be diluted. Shah went into a huddle no doubt but the erring brigade emerged unscathed and declared that there had been no scolding. Instead, they claimed, the discussions centred on routine matters pertaining to constituency and organisation.
Sakshi Maharaj went one step forward. He told a journalist that people in Bihar must realise it has cancer and needs immediate surgery if it has any hope for development. If this was not enough damage he added: "I have been hearing reports lately that we might lose Bihar. If that happens, then it would be Bihar's loss and not Modi's or Amit Shah's." This surely is being interpreted by supporters of the Grand Alliance as the final nail in the coffin of the BJP in Bihar.
In fact, when news surfaced that Shah had summoned party leaders for some plain speaking, the conclusion was that this was being done because of the M-Factor in the remaining three phases of polls. There was need to split the Muslim vote and this would not be possible in the face of an aggressive BJP campaign on communal issues. Behind this argument was the proposition that the publicly declared admonishing was merely for lip-service for strategic purposes.
If there was any serious intent, then the lead should have been taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. He, after all, had two clear opportunities to broadcast an emphatic message that enough was enough and that he would brook no further relay of intolerance. After all, Modi has to take the lead to declare that anyone who suffers from verbal pyorrhoea had no place in his political stable.
Yet, when speaking at an election rally in Bihar a day after President Pranab Mukherjee's observation, Modi waxed eloquent that the Rashtrapati's path must be followed but made no effort to delineate his personal position. There was no condemnation of the Dadri incident.
A few days later, in the short interview to a journalist he said that the lynching incident, cancellation of Ghulam Ali's concert and the public defacing of Sudheendra Kulkarni were sad and unfortunate. To compound his tasteless observation when categorical condemnation was the need, Modi shifted the blame to state governments and launched a tirade against pseudo-secularism.
In this backdrop, any effort to restrain the so-called fringe elements smacks of hypocrisy and double-standards. There cannot be separate rules for the minions in the party and another clutch of regulatory mechanism for the power elite.
This is not the first time that Modi has had to contend with the so-called fringe elements in the Sangh Parivar. Barely two months after his government assumed office, Yogi Adityanath upped the ante when he was given charge of leading the party's campaign for the by-polls in Uttar Pradesh. Subsequently, the likes of Sakshi Maharaj and Niranjan Jyoti continued to spew hatred against religious minorities. The minister also used swear words and had to be publicly restrained.
Staying within the constitutional framework should not require prodding. But because even the prime minister had to be reminded of his constitutional obligations by the American President Barack Obama, the others take liberties.
The Modi-Shah duo has repeatedly allowed the social milieu to get vitiated by rabble-rousers. True there may have been no prior mafia-style planning behind the Dadri incident, but when the incident was reported, the duo probably assessed that it could yield benefits somewhat similar to what the Godhra incident and its aftermath did in 2002. But because the strategy does not seem to be working, the blame is being sought to be apportioned on fall guys.
However, as Sakshi Maharaj demonstrated, these hard-nosed forces once let loose cannot be controlled. They in fact feel no need to act with restraint: their power after all, comes from Modi's silences!