As another election season looms, hate speech by high ranking politicians is surging - by1,130 per cent since the Modi government came into power in 2014, compared to the UPA-2 regime, an NDTV analysis has found.
In the past three and a half months, 'VIP' hate has spiked further above the average by over 160 per cent as polls draw closer.
The BJP accounts for over 80 per cent of this hate pandemic.
NDTV's 'VIP' hate speech tracker has been chronicling statements, since 2009, by high ranking political functionaries - ministers, Chief Ministers, MPs, MLAs, Governors and party bosses that are clearly communal, casteist, or make calls to violence.
The tracker also includes comments that may not directly be communal, but are "dog whistles" - loaded against a community or religion in an indirect or coded way.
It does not include crude or sexist remarks that are derogatory to women.
The tracker shows that during the UPA-2 regime (2009-14), there were 19 instances of 'VIP' hate speech, an average of 0.3 instances a month. Since 2014 to date, under the Modi government, there have been 348 such instances, an average of 3.7 instances a month, a surge of 1,130 per cent.
While politicians from most parties have made it to the list, data shows that the BJP tops the list, with 297 instances of high ranking hate. The Congress came a distant second with 10 instances of hate speech.
This is an average of close to 10 a month, over 160 per cent more than the monthly average of the Modi years.
For instance, less than a week ago, the Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma speaking at a public event in Telangana, said that just as the BJP government scrapped Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, they would wipe out the name of Asaduddin Owaisi, who is the MP from Hyderabad, capital of the Telangana region.
"The way Article 370 was scrapped, Ram Mandir's construction began...here also Nizam's name, Owaisi's name will be forgotten forever...that day is not very far," he said.
The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, while speaking at an event in Uttar Pradesh in November, said that while the BJP government has brought in a 'JAM' scheme -Jan Dhan Bank accounts, Aadhaar Card, and Mobiles, the Samajwadi Party also has a 'JAM' which stands for Jinnah, Azam Khan and Mukhtar.
Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, repeatedly used the term 'abba jaan,' in his speeches to insinuate that only Muslims reaped the benefits of government schemes under the Samajwadi Party government.
In December, the Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Keshav P Maurya, spoke of 'lungi chaap' goons and 'jaalidar topis' (goons wearing lungis and skullcaps) in an apparent dog whistle targeting the Muslim minority.
"Before 2017 polls, how many lungi chhaap goons used to roam around.. those wearing jalidar topi with guns in their hands… Who used to threaten traders? Since the BJP government was formed, can you even see such goons?" he said.
The BJP's youth leader and elected MP from Karnataka, Tejasvi Surya, again in December, said Muslims, even those from Pakistan, should be 'converted back' to Hinduism; comments he had to withdraw after backlash.
These findings come at a time when the Supreme Court has issued notice, amongst others, to the government of BJP-ruled Uttarakhand in response to a petition which drew the court's attention to the inaction by the Uttarakhand administration against a gathering of so-called religious leaders who made a series of genocidal threats against Muslims.
It's been over three weeks since that event, and not a single one of the speakers has been arrested.
Under Indian law, hate speech is a punishable offence, with imprisonment upto three years or a fine or both. But barely any of these high-ranking hate-spewing politicians have faced any legal action, or even reprimands by their parent parties.