Focus on the issues raised by protestors, not on their clothes

Was there something so different or unique about the clothes those protesting against the government wore that the Prime Minister couldn’t help but notice? And wouldn’t it serve him better to focus on the issues raised by them?

According to reports by the news agency Asian News International (ANI), at a recent rally in Dumka in the state of Jharkhand, the Indian Prime Minister claimed that those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) can be identified by the clothes they are wearing.

Branding a particular group as anti-social

He did not clarify the exact clothes for reasons best known to him. But it would not be entirely inaccurate to infer that he implied that only a particular group of people (read Muslims) were the ones involved in protests and that this was a clear attempt to circulate a message that is blatantly communal and violence-inducing apart from being totally untrue.

The genius of this statement was that it said a lot of things while allowing him to be perfectly vague about the details so he can maintain the facade of not being seen as openly prejudiced when in reality such a statement is an open invitation towards vilifying that group he did not name. Something that they did with CAA and its big brother NRC wherein they are turning the largest minority group in India into second-class citizens.

The overzealous propaganda machine hard at work

Alas, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Delhi unit was not so subtle in showcasing their hatred for Muslims. In this Instagram post, they were trying to build the narrative that it was the Muslims who were responsible for burning those buses and causing violence when there is still no clarity on who was behind these incidents. This has been their Modus operandi to spread misinformation among their supporters and it is not unexpected to see them do that again.

It is a method that has won them countless number of elections but it can’t go on forever even though they have an already pliant TV and print media that is ready to act as the public relations wing of the government and has some exceptionally creative but unimaginably evil-minded people who have made hatred and bigotry the favorite pastime of their consumers through the blatantly communal messaging that they have been broadcasting every single day for the past 5 years.

Kapdon pe nahi Muddon pe dhyan dijiye

The Prime Minister and his government would be well advised to focus on the messages that the protesters are trying to convey – to back off on both CAA and NRC, quit the dangerously communal behavior of demonizing Muslims and get your economy back on track before things take an ugly turn.

This could be bigger than the Lokpal movement (which was a prime reason for the Congress government to lose our trust and subsequently the election in 2014) for the present dispensation. Already they have been remarkably callous in dealing with this protest. Our Home Minister, who is normally seen as the shrewd political brain that has led his party to electoral successes over the past 5 years, has grossly misread the mood of the nation.

The people have spoken, but will they listen?

It has to be said that his decision to send police inside the Jamia Millia University outrageously short-sighted. Not only that, his continual insistence of imposing curfews across different places in the country and the constant use of brute force against the protestors is also sending a clear message that he prefers the confrontational rather than the conversational way of dealing with any problem. The people of a largely democratic and secular country like India abhor this kind of high-handedness and it is not surprising to see that this method is already giving diminishing returns and may soon exhaust its utility.

There comes a time in every government’s rule when they find themselves in an extremely critical situation, due to events both within and beyond their control. At that point, they have to choose between one of the two options, either step back and change course to save themselves or press ahead and guarantee certain defeat. Is this that very moment for our Prime Minister and his cohorts? For their sake I hope it is and again for their sake I hope they step back.

Image Source : Google Images