5 April 2020 06:08 AM




BJP’s meeting at Vrindavan that places and then takes Love Jihad off the agenda

NEW DELHI: After an excited start to push “Love Jihad” as the new Bharatiya Janata Party slogan ahead of the by elections in Uttar Pradesh, top leaders of the party who were falling over each other to take credit for the idea, are now distancing themselves from the slogan after New Delhi frowned on the idea that had all other political parties and women’s organisations up in arms within hours of the announcement.

The Opposition parties accused the BJP of communalising politics in no uncertain terms, while the women’s organisations expressed shock about the fillip this move would give to the strongly patriarchal society of western Uttar Pradesh that had made the killing of women an “honour” to be executed whenever the young girls of the region demonstrated their own will in romance and marriage.

BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpayi and of course the overly vocal leader Vinay Katiyar pushed the idea ahead at the party’s executive meet at Vrindavan. Significantly the decision to include it in the formal agenda had been announced through the media a couple of days before with no adverse reaction from the central BJP. In fact on the first day when Bajpayi and Katiyar were applauding the idea, state veteran Kalraj Mishra who was representing BJP president Amit Shah.

Somewhere along the way the spurt of criticism in Delhi made an impact and the Vrindavan meet was told not to include the issue in the formal agenda of the party. It was also ‘leaked’ to the media that senior party leaders were “angry” about this decision to the point that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh flew straight to Assam and did not stop at Vrindavan for the meeting. This, of course, while reported in a section of the media could not be independently confirmed by The Citizen.

However, the flak has been publicly born by Bajpayi who is being now attacked roundly by local leaders in not-to-be-quoted sessions with select journalists for overstepping the line. Those who had remained silent are all out in front to insist that the BJP had won the elections on good governance and not on these issues. Incidentally, western Uttar Pradesh consolidated behind the BJP only after the large scale Muzaffarnagar violence and the spread of rumours centering around ‘love jihad’ across the belt that pitted the Jats against the Muslims and led to displacement not seen in the state since 1947.

The ‘second thoughts’ in the BJP came after sufficient passions had been roused with the front organisations of the Sangh parivar now taking up the issue while officially the BJP moves into the back seat. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal in fact have emerged with this new slogan with the conglomerate uniting under the one banner of Meerut Bachao Manch---that has the dubious distinction of being the first organisation to take up the issue that the state BJP has had to drop. The VHP, Jagran Manch, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad have formed this front, and will undertake a similar exercise in other districts and towns of the state.

Significantly, sources in Lucknow confirmed that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is taking keen interest in the issue and its leaders have told local reporters that similar front’s will be formed in Muzaffarnagar that is still simmering after the violence, as well as the communally sensitive districts of Saharanpur, Bulandshahr, Bareilly, Moradabad and Baghpat as well. Communal violence has been reported from all these districts in western Uttar Pradesh from where four of the 11 by elections are scheduled to be held next month.

The front organisations have taken this up as a mission and the call for all to unite under common banners indicates the sense of purposeness that the issue will be taken up. In Muzaffarnagar for instance, the violence was triggered by rumours of the various components of “Love Jihad” that include the alleged eve teasing, rape, abduction, molestation and murder of Hindu women by Muslim men. Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh have repeatedly asked for confirmation of the rumours with specific names and incidents that have not been forthcoming. The state government after administrative probes has been maintaining that the rumours were based on lies, and were used to spread communal violence across the state.

The leaders of the front organisations are speaking in one voice, making it very clear that they will “re-convert” and take action on every incident that is brought to their attention. The VHP as well as the many other organisations in the field are mobilising the youth to play a lead role in ferreting out cases of mixed marriages, and “taking action” accordingly.