BJP should learn rules of democratic change of Govt

The BJP leaders did not realise the implications when they allowed a group of goons to pull down the statue of Lenin in Belonia in Tripura after its victory in polls. Pulling down of statues and other acts of vandalism may be a norm in counties ruled by dictators or after a change of regime through war or violence, but is just not done in a democracy where a victory in polls or defeat is taken in stride and change over takes place in the normal course  without  any violence or pulling down of symbols associated  with the outgoing regime.

In India we have witnessed change of regimes at Center as well as in States without such acts of vandalism. The worse part was that BJP goons not only pulled down the statue, but attacked offices of  Communist party, and acts were hailed by BJP leadership including Governor  who claimed that Lenin being a foreigner there was nothing wrong in pulling down his statue. The BJP, however, back tracked when such acts were condemned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it led to acts of vandalism in different parts of country and disfiguring of statues of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, Periyar  and Dr B.R Ambedkar.

The BJP leader in Tamilnadu who at one stage predicted that statue of Periyar needs to be removed cancelled his tweet in a hurry and offered an apology.  As BJP leadership realised that attack on Tamil Icon like Periyar will have wide repercussions as he is held in high esteem by all sections of people in Tamil had as a social reformer. This also exposed the fact that BJP is dominated by high caste Hindus in Tamilnadu who are cut off from common mases.

BJP has been indulging in acts of violence and intolerance in different parts of country either directly or through other units of Sangh Parivar like Vishwa Hindu Parishad  or cow vigilante groups . Such groups have openly been attacking persons carrying cattle across the State boundaries even for legitimate purposes. Such groups have been very active in States governed by BJP like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and U.P. The State Governments have been either slow or indifferent in catching the culprits or punishing them.

Such divisive policies have evoked protest from different groups including writers, film makers and other intellectual groups, but ignored by party in power. BJP has also been trying rewrite history, change text books. It has also tried to rename social welfare schemes. It would have been much better if BJP had launched new welfare schemes instead of changing names only.

While changing names may be of no consequence, but re-writing history, bringing down statues  or dividing communities on religious lines  will have dangerous implications. Particularly if it leads to violence. It has also to be realised that India is large country almost like a continent where we have variety of languages, culture and a different set of heroes. For that matter we also worship same God by different name in different parts of country.

As such any attempt to impose any language or one form of thinking will not work. India has boasted about being a cradle of different religions and all of them have flourished side by side. Religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism have large following. This has not prevented Jews Parsis or Budhist from enjoying full freedom. After Independence India has provided space for followers of Dalai lama and Afghan refugees. As such India has been a society in which different languages, culture, religions and communities have flourished.

Any attempt to change its character by introducing fascist tendencies will not be acceptable. A democracy allows people to make a choice every five years through ballot. This implies that there should be a continuity and tolerance. Any attempt to change its federal character in which every State enjoys lot of freedom and power can not be changed. It also implies that all should get equal share and those living in remote areas or poor by comparison get special treatment. The original map of India visualised power flowing from Panchayat level to top and not concentration of power at top. This should be maintained if conflicts are to be avoided between States and Center.

(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)