The massive campaign by the government to defend the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has witnessed a surge in hate speeches.
In parliament, the government sought to reassure that the Act does not discriminate against Muslims. But in the weeks since, there has been a spike in hate rhetoric from BJP leaders and ministers.
Since December 11, when the citizenship law was passed, there have been 25 instances of VIP hate speeches, based on publicly-sourced information compiled by NDTV. That is almost one hateful comment a day -- a big jump. By hate speech, we mean comments which are communally-loaded, bigoted and/or an incitement to violence, or which call into question patriotism.
In the first five years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government (2014-19), there were 174 instances of VIP hate speech, or an average of three per month.
The most hate speeches - 14 -- emerged in January 2018. December 2019 topped this.
Of the 25 instances in December, 23 comments have been made by BJP leaders. Only in three instances, FIRs have been registered against the leaders.
There are two examples just in the last 48 hours. In Kolkata, the BJP's Bengal president Dilip Ghosh, in reference to anti-CAA protesters, said: "Didi's (Mamata Banerjee) police didn't take action against the people who destroyed public properties as they are her voters. Our government in UP, Assam and Karnataka has shot these people like dogs". Two police complaints have been registered against him.
In Aligarh, BJP leader Raghuraj Singh said, "If you raise slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, I will bury you alive."
The Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah, too, have made communally-loaded statements.
On December 15, PM Modi referred to anti-CAA protesters during a rally in Dumka, Jharkhand and said , "You can easily make out who is spreading violence by the clothes they wear".
On December 27, Amit Shah said at a rally in Shimla: "Congress government was there for 10 years under Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Every day Alia, Malia, Jamalia would come from Pakistan and behead our soldiers and the PM remained mute through everything."
In this period, there has only been a single instance of hate speech by a non-BJP leaders.
Congress MP K Muraleedharan issued a veiled threat to the Kerala governor in Bengaluru on January 2 saying, "Governor says assembly's resolution is valueless. Kerala Chief Minister has the responsibility to warn Governor like it was done in West Bengal. And if he doesn't resign, he can't walk through streets. If he doesn't show the dignity of Governor, we'll show him how to do it."