The countdown to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has begun, and India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, seems to be a favourite of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to further its agenda with provocative speeches.
In tandem with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's ‘thoko neeti (encounter policy)’, Vikram Saini, BJP MLA from Muzaffarnagar, on January 3, said that all those who do not feel safe in India should be "bombed".
Saini said, "My personal view is that those who say they feel unsafe, and are threatened in India, should be bombed. Give me a ministry, and I will bomb all such people, not even one will be spared."
He further justified that it was his routine language, and that others in his village spoke in the same manner.
“Such people are traitors. Some arrangement must be made for them. They should be punished. They should leave the country. Why should you stay here if you do not have patriotic feelings towards your country? If you feel unsafe, go where you feel safe. Who has stopped them?” Saini continued.
How BJP is inciting violence
Since Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government came to power in 2017, Uttar Pradesh has witnessed exponential increase in hate crimes, ranging from mob lynchings in the name of gau raksha (cow vigilantism), communal violence and targeted violence following rumours and fake news. A significant number of instances of hate speech invoke the rhetoric of cow protection, a subject that has gained currency under this government. Elected leaders, including MPs, MLAs and even chief ministers have used the language of vigilantes while calling for violence against those who kill cows.
Vikram Saini is not the first man in this league of controversies. There are so many others who directly invoke the violence. Recently, Purvanchal University Vice Chancellor Raja Ram Yadav urged the students to “murder” if they get into a fight, instead of complaining. Leaders including Sakshi Maharaj, Sangeet Som, Sanjeev Balyan and Satish Kumar Gautam are infamous for such provocative statements.
Additionally, data shared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last year shows that the state government has failed in ensuring citizens’ safety.
As per National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Uttar Pradesh has topped the list of fake encounters and custodial deaths since the formation of the BJP government in the state. The language of violence seems to have become the ‘new normal’ in the state. In most of the incidents that have happened during the incumbent CM’s tenure, the accused has rarely been punished. Hate crime incidents saw leaders of the ruling party visiting the accused instead of the victims. This attitude of the government has emboldened criminals leading to an atmosphere of lawlessness in the state.
Polarisation to seek votes
The Indian state with the highest number of Lok Sabha seats, Uttar Pradesh had greatly contributed in Narendra Modi’s victory by giving the BJP 71 of the total 80 seats. The party benefited due to split of votes between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. BJP’s vote share in general election 2014 was 42.63% per which is a little more than the combined vote share of SP and BSP, which was 42.13% per cent. Many political analysts believe that this spectacular victory of the BJP was due to the consolidation of Hindu votes for the party following the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013.