Shazia Ilmi also in vitriol party
The silly season and its madness seem to be getting completely out of hand. As if the frenetic attempts of the Togadias, Amit Shahs, Giriraj Singhs and Azam Khans to vitiate the polarized climate were not enough, the Aam Aadmi Party seems to have thrown away the elaborate show of being politically correct and courtesy Shazia Ilmi, also joined the hate-mongers club.
A video that has Shazia Ilmi offering her own piece of advice to Muslims has surfaced, leading to instant attempts by the AAP leadership to distance itself from her rather intriguing “play of words.” In the video, Ilmi is shown saying that “Muslims are too secular and they should become communal… They are not communal and do not vote for themselves... Don’t be so secular and look at your own house this time,” is what she has been quoted as saying.
Although Ilmi clarified that she was just being sarcastic when she said what has been reported, the extent of the damage can be deciphered from the defensive reactions of the AAP leadership and the tumult that the remarks have caused, especially in the social media. The emphasis on thinking of the interests of the community first has all the ingredients of snowballing into a big controversy even as Arvind Kejriwal files his nomination from Varanasi. Thus far, AAP had desisted from joining a club which has seen established purveyors of hate exert the electorate’s limits to the maximum. A jubiliant BJP has been quick to demand action by the Election Commission on Shazia Ilmi’s remarks.
Whereas the hardliners in other parties seem to be working on a deliberate plan, it is indeed intriguing that someone prominent from AAP would also want to join the dubious club.
Fringe rabble-rouser Pravin Togadia, with 19 cases against him as disclosed by the Union Home Ministry, is by far the leader of the dubious brigade currently vitiating the electoral atmosphere by hate speech, and he is unfazed even as Narendra Modi has reportedly ticked off such petty talk.
Togadia’s ‘advice’ to residents in Bhavnagar to forcefully take possession of Muslim properties and put up a board of Bajrang Dal on them is only the latest to come out of him. He has been booked in the past in Bhopal and Bangalore; Hyderabad and Ajmer; Patna and Jammu; Lucknow and Hyderabad and also in Kerala.
Meanwhile, even as Shazia Ilmi has attracted flak for exhorting Muslims to think in communal terms, the Election Commission on Tuesday banned BJP Lok Sabha aspirant Giriraj Singh for his remarks suggesting that Pakistan is the right place to go for those who are opposed to Narendra Modi.
The EC has asked state authorities in Bihar and Jharkhand that they should not allow Giriraj Singh to address public meetings. The reason why no action has followed against Togadia, according to officials, is the legal requirement for police to get prior sanction from state or the Central government to proceed against him and his ilk, which also includes another prolific hate monger in Akbaruddin Owaisi. Togadia however is a clear frontrunner, and he has also spoken of defranchising Muslims and not allowing them to get Constitutional posts.
Intriguingly however, the EC seems to be terribly inconsistent in actual terms. While Modi acolyte Amit Shah has been reprieved even when he openly exhorted the electorate in western UP to seek revenge for the Muzaffarnagar mayhem in the forthcoming elections, Samajwadi leader Azam Khan was not so lucky for his take on the Kargil war.
Observers have noted how the BJP has been talking in different languages in the course of the campaign, trying to sound inclusive in some while allowing the fringe to occupy the mainstream in most other situations and openly indulge in hate mongering to polarise the electorate on religious lines. The Election Commission is apparently far-too-preoccupied with other things to rein in the multiplying breed of hate-mongers.
The onus is on the political parties to check their loony fringe, a task which at least the BJP and the SP are distinctly unwillingly to undertake, with the result that the campaign for the 16th Lok Sabha will easily go down as the most obnoxious of them all insofar as the politics of hate is concerned, what with its dubious purveyors virtually holding all norms and the electorate to ransom.