bjp: Prophet comment row: Opposition watches how Hindutva gallery will digest BJP actions against its two spokespersons

The opposition parties are closely watching how the Sangh Parivar hardliners will digest the BJP leadership’s sacking of its two spokespersons after Gulf countries criticised the duo’s ‘insulting’ remarks against Prophet Mohammad. The opposition camps are also watching how the saffron establishment’s ‘muscular’ Hindutva-nationalist constituency will react to BJP’s disciplinary actions, apparently under the prompting of the higher-ups in the government. The same constituency was well-fed for continuously sneering the opposition parties, especially the Congress, as ‘Muslim appeasers’.

The fact that both the BJP leadership and the Centre stayed mum for days after its spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal made the objectionable remarks and that they acted against the duo only when Gulf nations registered their protests and resorted to some actions against the Indian business interests, opposition circles feel that the ‘disciplinary actions’ were borne out of compulsion rather than conviction.

Besides the international political and economic ramifications, the Gulf nations’ protests, they feel, would have provided fillip to the ongoing domestic protests, had the ruling establishment continued to ignore the spokespersons’ conduct.

“The episode globally advertised what two micro lightweight political nobodies such as Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal can do to the political might. The question is who, and what, all embolden such people to indulge in downright abuse in the name of political discourse,” said a senior opposition leader.

The fact that the ruling side chose to notify (post-sacking) Sharma and Jindal as “fringe elements” appalled and amused the opposition leaders. “GoI attributes the statement of the two BJP spokespersons as that of ‘fringe elements’! Who appointed them as official BJP spokespersons? Would BJP chief accept the responsibility of appointing ‘fringe elements’ as spokespersons and publicly apologise? What about filing of criminal cases against the two BJP leaders now suspended and expelled? Shouldn’t UP Police file cases against them?” said Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.

The timing of the development holds importance as the opposition has been of late accusing BJP regimes of failing to curb hate speeches and polarisation planks, which they think were being erected to block public focus on the livelihood issues. “PM Narendra Modi ji, why should India as a country apologise to the international community for the hate speeches of BJP bigots? It is BJP that should apologise, not India as a nation. Your party should first apologise to Indians at home for spewing and spreading hatred day in, day out,” said TRS leader KT Rama Rao.

Opposition camps also feel the way the Gulf nations reacted would now put the Indian establishment right under the global scanner. “Our dapper external affairs minister got his spokesman to dismiss an US government report on religious minorities in India as ‘vote-bank politics in international relations’. US allies in Gulf are giving a reply,” Congress’ Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

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