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Hate speeches galore in the run-up to elections in MP

tNew Delhi:  Promises of converting secular India into a Hindu rashtra (nation), taking revenge against Muslims for all their imaginary acts of oppression and subjugation of Hindus, a crusade against ‘Love Jihad,’ ‘ghar wapsi’ and stringent cow protection measures are some of the baits Hindutva protagonists have dangled to lure Hindu voters in the upcoming elections in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

According to Kashmir Media Service, there is much at stake for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. Any adverse result at the hustling would be a bad omen for the all-important general elections next year. The polls here are equally important for the resurgent Congress. The 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh are divided into Chambal, Bhopal, Baghelkhand, Mahakoshal, Malwa and other regions. The issue is whether any change in this large, central Indian state will herald some shift in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

In the run-up to the election, Hindutva preachers have not been leaving any stone unturned in their anti-Muslim rhetoric and vilification campaign targeting the majority among the minorities.

Congress, on the other hand, is also portraying itself to be more pro-Hindu with chief ministership aspirant and a tall party leader Kamal Nath boasting of the party’s positive role in paving the way for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. He recently said it was former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi who was instrumental in getting the Babri Masjid locks opened. It ultimately led to the shameful demolition of the Muslim place of worship by Hindu fanatics in 1992.

Recently, Congress leader Madhu Bhagat reportedly showed appreciation for an RSS-led march in Balaghat and welcomed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh volunteers with flowers. When questioned, the leader validated and justified the act by claiming that the BJP’s parent organisation has been playing a constructive role in nation-building.

A few days ago (November 5), Malini Gaur, four-time Indore Mayor and a known Hindutva hate-monger indulged in a diatribe against the Muslim community when she was simply asked about her responsibilities and role as the city’s alderwoman. Without any plausible explanation, the mayor started her rants against Muslims. Sharing the stage with other leaders, she said: “I do not require the vote of those who don’t chant ‘Vande Mataram’ or ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.

Earlier this month, the “monk” of Bhageshwar Dham, Dhirendra Shastri, addressed the Hindu youth and took an oath to achieve the target of Hindu rashtra. He shared the dais with T. Raja Singh, the controversial Hindutva leader from Telangana, and promised that they would not rest till their aim was achieved. The monk and Raja Singh again harped on their favourite theme of liberating scores of temples converted by Muslim rulers into mosques.

A video posted on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter), on November 2, showing cow vigilantes harassing two Muslim truck drivers in Betul. The cow vigilantes, associated with Rashtriya Hindu Sena, forcibly pushed the drivers into a vehicle before beating them up. Hate speeches are systematically organised to promote such abhorrent incidents.

Hate Detector recently reported that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised an event to promote Hindutva conspiracy theories. A right-wing leader delivered a speech laced with distortions. He even incited the gathering to arm themselves and by imputation be prepared for violence. “There should be a weapon in each household! Power-display is crucial! It’s important for the sake of life!” he exhorted the audience.

“When the police break into their (Muslims) houses, they get swords, guns and pistols but we don’t even keep a baton to kill a snake,” he said.

He also harped on the ‘Love Jihad’ theme to cajole the audience into buying weapons. “Within 5 to 10 years, there will be a war in India! They (Muslims) are targeting our mothers and sisters to convert them,” he said.

Such communal claims seek to divide the ordinary voters. Calling on citizens to arm themselves is an offence under the Indian Arms Act but the exhortations are made with impunity as police authorities and other security agencies look the other way in clear contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines on hate speeches.

These past few days, the state has witnessed an outburst of hate, meant to provoke a population going to vote. These hate speeches are directly and indirectly destroying the collective ethos of love and harmony.

Hate offenders, backed by a powerful network of supremacist organisations, have created false narratives to deepen existing social and caste prejudices and fester communal division in the country.

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