THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL | 14 NOVEMBER, 2017
Since When Has Consensual Sex Become a Crime?
Mevani supports Patel as BJP plunges Gujarat campaign to a new low
After 24 year old Hardik Patel cringed publicly over a cheap video---sexciting sections of the irresponsible and idiotic media---the most heartening response has come from Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani who has stood the controversy on its head with a tweet, “Dear Hardik Patel, don't worry. I m with you. And right to sex is a fundamental right. No one has right to breach your privacy.”
Since when has consensual sex become a crime? Even a child in Gujarat perhaps can answer this question with: since the going became rough for the BJP in the run up to the Assembly elections. It basically reflects a certain desperation arising from the fear of losing seats, now that the Congress party has shown some signs of countering what had become a one party rule in the state for over two decades. Unable to convince the voter with the roll back on GST, and finding the going tougher than anticipated on the economic front, BJP President Amit Shah who has not moved out of the state, has decided to pull out all the dirty plugs. This video on Patel---that he of course has denied---is a nasty move, made worse by sections of the media that spent hours discussing a private non-issue. In the process displaying a level of voyeurism that actually raises questions about whether these sections can be brought under the ‘journalism’ tag at all.
Gujarat is clearly an election that has acquired levels of importance not generally associated with Assembly polls. For the BJP, it is the home state for both the PM and the BJP President. It has been the launching pad for both. It has been projected by them and the BJP as a model of development, loyalty and support. And a state where the poison of communalism and divisiveness was pushed so deep, that all other issues were unable to defeat this big trump card of the BJP that worked election after election with the Opposition non-existent.
Until 2017. Now. When the gold started turning into dust, and economics took over. Demonetisation, GST---for Gujarat this was just not acceptable. And when New Delhi refused to listen the traders and business organisations organised huge demonstrations against the Prime Minister and his government. Meanwhile Mevani, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor were chipping away at the base, taking out important components who had voted for the BJP earlier---namely Dalits, Pattidars, and Other Backwards. They were also working to bring the minorities back into the fold, regardless of the BJP propaganda against them and their intent on this issue. Mevani issued a call for Dalit-Muslim unity during his Una yatra; Patel did not hesitate to meet Muslims in Godhra. And neither were ostracised by their respective communities, in fact drew larger crowds than before.
The BJP first tried to postpone the announcement of the elections so that the PM could quickly announce some economic sops. It has now decided to delay the winter session of Parliament when the second round of sops also have not had the desired impact. So it started communalising the campaign placing the three young men at the centre of its HAJ poster suggesting appeasement of the minorities.
This did not phase any of them and the anti-BJP juggernaut continued. Desperate to win back the Patidar community that was its backbone till the last elections,the BJP first made some key aides of Hardik Patel break away from him. He did not blink, dismissed them as opportunist, and continued his campaign attracting Patidar youth all across the state. So now the sex videos. Here he has denied being the person in the video but to give the young man credit, he has reserved a few good words for the woman in the video, regretting at her privacy being violated. At the same time he has made it clear that this too will not stop him, as while the videos circulate so does the anti-response all over the social media. Mevani’s support makes it clear that the young leaders will stick together, and that no law has been broken except by those who took the video, and circulated it.
The BJP has not covered itself in laurels, in fact quite the opposite.