BJP inventing communal twist

There was mischief writ clearly between the lines of BJP general secretary Ram Madhav’s tweet that Vice-President Hamid Ansari did not attend the International Yoga Day event at Rajpath on Sunday. The insinuation was not lost on anyone, and the cyber crowd took it up to malign the Vice-President and to denigrate the country’s second highest constitutional office. One part of Ram Madhav’s observation, that the Rajya Sabha TV blacked out the Yoga Day event, was wrong, and the other part about Ansari’s absence was ill-informed. Finding that he has no defence, Ram Madhav has withdrawn the offensive tweet, but the episode has exposed the  crude and dangerous mindset of the higher levels of the BJP leadership. Ram Madhav is not a fringe element, he is a mainstream party leader with important responsibilities. If he invents a communal issue where none existed, is there any surprise that the Adityanaths and the Sakshi Maharajs go so overboard on all issues?

The Vice-President’s Office had to explain that he was not invited to the yoga event and as per protocol, he could not participate in it unless he was invited by the government. The government has also, through Minister for Ayush Shripad Naik, said that Ansari had not been invited. That shows Ram Madhav made a serious accusation against the Vice-President without checking the facts or deliberately ignoring them. Either way, it did not behove a senior party functionary. A few months ago, Ansari was wrongly criticised for showing disrespect to the national flag. It is a simpleton who would feel that the sustained attacks on the Vice-President have nothing to do with his being a Muslim or that Ansari came to the position during the UPA regime. That shows a tendency to take a narrowly political view of institutions and positions of state and, dangerously, an inclination to question the conduct and even the national commitment of those who are perceived as adversaries or critics. Unconvincing and wrong grounds are invented for this. It also meant an attempt to politicise the Yoga Day programme which the government and the BJP leadership have always claimed should be above the fray.

That is why the attack on the Vice-President was especially wrong and a mere withdrawal of the tweet does not undo the damage done by it. To claim that the issue is dead with the withdrawal is to refuse to disown and make amends for it. The government and the BJP leadership should apologise for the belittling of the high constitutional office and insult of the person who holds it.

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