Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s continued silence over a critical issue is harming his well earned credibility among the middle class and India’s young generation. Mr. Modi has shown exceptional empathy and ability to interact with India’s burgeoning young generation. The young are the harbinger of a future global India. Why does Mr. Modi allow an issue to fester which negates his hard earned credibility?
One refers to the obsolete notions of communal hatred currently manifested by the Love Jihad myth. The term originated in Karnataka in 2009 after a controversy was created by a love marriage between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl. The myth was created that a conspiracy was afoot to entice Hindu girls into marrying Muslim boys to alter the demographic balance. A thorough probe by the Karnataka police found no evidence to substantiate this wild charge. Hindu zealots started focusing on inter-religious marriages to discover evidence. The myth grew. Now after five years it has traveled to the north and currently has infected Uttar Pradesh. BJP leaders Mr. Lakshmikant Bajpayee and Yogi Adityanath, who headed the BJP poll campaign in the UP assembly elections, exploited this issue to the hilt. They made hate speeches that attracted the attention of the Election Commission. Recently on November 5 a video was released of Yogi Adityanath’s hate speech which revives the controversy.
On August 28, 2014 the Yogi publicly stated: “The way Hindu girls are insulted, I don't think a civilized society would accept it. One community is allowed to spread anarchy. If the government is not doing anything, then the Hindus will have to take matters into their own hands,”
This last threat is arguably legally actionable. Opposition voices are demanding adequate action by the government. None is forthcoming. What is worse, BJP leaders are also tongue tied. When media confronted Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh he remained evasive and feigned ignorance. He said he had “no idea” about it. “What is Love Jihad?” he asked. His discomfiture was understandable.
Apart from the obnoxious prying into private lives that repels modern minds the BJP has especial reason to be embarrassed. Two of its most prominent Muslim office bearers, Mr. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Mr. Syed Shahnawaz Husain, are married to Hindus. The party’s prominent spokesman Mr. Subramanian Swamy has a uniquely inclusive family of Hindus, Parsis and Muslims joined by marriage. All these politicians lead happy and harmonious lives. With what face might BJP leaders rant about Love Jihad?
And yet Mr. Modi maintains a deafening silence. Should he not for the sake of retaining the credibility of his inclusive agenda publicly reprimand Yogi Adityanath? Or does he believe that communal polarization is an appropriate tactic to win elections? If there are elements within the Sangh Parivar fomenting the Love Jihad nonsense Mr. Modi must confront them. Otherwise he may win an election in the short run but destroy his agenda in the long run.