PM Modi, Even a Tweet Would Do

Published: July 24, 2014 15:59 IST
(Captain GR Gopinath founded Air Deccan and is considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector. He quit Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party on May 24, five months after joining it.)

The revolting images of a Shiv Sena MP, surrounded by others from his party, shoving food forcibly into the mouth of the employee of a catering company has shocked the nation. The man was a Muslim keeping his "roja."  

BJP spokesmen, instead of showing clear remorse for the incident, dodged any real condemnation of the Shiv Sena, their ally. Instead, they tried to shift focus by attacking the Congress and referring to "appeasement politics."

Their attitude left the field wide open for critics of Narendra Modi to question his silence.   Some suggested the Prime Minister is a puppet on a string controlled by the RSS. Narendra Modi had proclaimed during his campaign that there will be no place for hate-mongers under his rule. They said he must now walk the talk. 

The Shiv Sena MPs were shamelessly brazen and unrepentant. The ring-leader behaved like a goonda. In the few minutes before the unpardonable act of thrusting food into the mouth of the employee, the MPs had thrown clocks and plates and things and behaved like rowdies at Maharashtra Sadan. The crass behaviour and physical assault on the fasting man was first and foremost a criminal act. The court should have stepped in and suo moto an FIR should have been filed by the Delhi police.

It is in the interest of the BJP as well as the government to condemn the act itself in the strongest possible words and publicly admonish its ally the Shiv Sena. The fact that the employee who was ill-treated and humiliated is a Muslim places additional responsibility on the government to step up and reassure the country that all  citizens are equal under the law, regardless of their religion, and more importantly, that all elected representatives are bound by the laws of the country.

The main issue that is being lost  sight of in the debate over whether communalism was falsely injected into this incident is  the caught-on-camera criminal conduct of elected representatives. It is flagrant and committed with impunity. Last month, a Congress MLA misbehaved with a police constable and physically assaulted him in a pub in Bangalore when the cop tried to intervene in his argument with restaurant owners over his bill. The MLA had many criminal cases pending against him. The ruling party soft-pedalled the matter and pressure was exerted on the poor constable and the police not to pursue the matter.

There have been umpteen cases where elected representatives have beaten up government employees and acted like lumpen elements in every state cutting across party lines. What is at issue is the conduct of these people who when elected become intoxicated with arrogance and power and think they are privileged and indulge in conduct which is unlawful and utterly disgraceful and get away with it because the agencies that enforce the law are under the grip and fear of the ruling party.

Silence is not always golden. It behoves Prime Minister Modi as a statesman to take a stand. Even a tweet would do.

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