PM fails to take Dadri issue head on

More than 10 days after the lynching of Muhammad Akhlaq at Bisara village in Dadri taluk of Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally deigned to comment on it, at an election rally in Bihar. If one expected that his comment would take the issue head-on, there could not have been a bigger disappointment in store. For, Modi’s remark falls far short of an outright condemnation. Leave alone condemnation, his utterances are couched in general terms and tags on to what President Pranab Mukherjee said a day earlier. Mukherjee had said Indian civilisation’s core values of diversity, tolerance and
plurality cannot be allowed to be wasted. Modi’s does not even pretend to come close to this observation.

The prime minister was under pressure from the intelligentsia and large sections of the public to say something that would conclusively rap the knuckles of those threatening the secular ethos of the country. Instead, he asked Hindus and Muslims to fight for poverty and stay united as that would alone take the country forward. There was no mention of Dadri or the lynching. As for his colleagues in government and in the BJP who have tried to play down the lynching, Modi merely asked people to ignore statements of politicians as they were doing so for political gains. Even this is only through inference as it is not clear whose statements he was referring to. The prime minister has clearly left his colleagues off the hook instead of pulling them up for making irresponsible statements. If Union Minister Mahesh Sharma sought to describe the lynching as an accident, Uttar Pradesh BJP legislator Sangeet Som, an accused in the Muzaffarnagar communal riots, likened it to just another crime, the likes of which happen in their thousands across the country.
 
From the prime minister’s comment, it is obvious that for all the claims of representing the nation in its entirety, Modi remains leader of only a section of Indians – particularly of those espousing Hindutva. After all, he belongs to the Sangh Parivar and it is probably too much to expect him to rise above sectarian considerations and call a spade a spade. His carefully constructed utterance is meant to shut up those who were clamouring for him to break his silence while at the same time ensuring that his colleagues in the Sangh do not get offended. Modi’s statement syncs with his senior colleague Home Minister Rajnath Singh who said the lynching should not be given a communal colour. The implication of Modi’s reaction is fraught with consequences as it could signal a kid-glove treatment for the accused in the Dadri killing, an act with communal overtones that the nation watched in horror.

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