While the strategy to defame the Narendra Modi government by projecting it as officiating over mayhem has not worked in the past eight years either in the domestic circuit or abroad, leaders of 13 opposition parties, including three chief ministers, today issued a joint appeal against growing incidents of hate speech and communal violence in parts of the country. They said excuses of food, dress, faith, festivals and language were being used to polarise society.
“We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress, faith, festivals and language are being deliberately used by sections of the ruling establishment to polarize our society,” their joint statement said.
“We strongly condemn the recent outburst of communal violence witnessed across several states in the country. We are deeply concerned, as reports indicate that there is a sinister pattern in the areas where these incidents have occurred. Incendiary hate speeches preceded the aggressive armed religious processions unleashing communal violence,” the joint appeal by the opposition leaders including INC president Sonia Gandhi said.
The other political leaders who signed on the appeal were Nationalist Congress Party Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin, Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah.
According to a source, Shiv Sena, which is in alliance with the INC and NCP in Maharashtra, opted not to become a signatory “because they were not comfortable with certain parts of the language of the joint appeal”.
The joint statement from 13 opposition leaders comes days after several instances of violence were reported from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka among other areas around Ram Navami on Sunday last. The situation in MP’s Khargone is still tense. Interestingly, on each of the occasions, it was the Muslim side, which allegedly the Modi dispensation is hostile towards, that was the attacker.
Like a bunch of intellectuals 60 odd intellectuals whose ‘open letters’ have by now lost newsworthiness, the opposition collective expressed concern that the growing incidents of hate speech by people who appeared to enjoy government patronage, it said, “no meaningful and strong action is being taken”.
“We are shocked at the silence of the Prime Minister who has failed to speak against the words and actions of those who propagate bigotry, and those who by their words and actions incite and provoke our society. This silence is an eloquent testimony to the fact that such private armed mobs enjoy the luxury of official patronage,’’ said the statement issued today.
Flying in the face of the reality that social media platforms generally come down heavily on the Hindu point of view, the statement said that the opposition was extremely pained by the manner in which social media and the audio-visual platforms were being “misused with official patronage to spread hatred and prejudice”.
The one-page statement signs off with the opposition leaders reiterating their commitment to “work together to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that have defined and enriched India for centuries.’
“Our country will prosper only if it respects, accommodates and celebrates its many diversities in full measure,’’ the political leaders said. they said while appealing to all sections of society to maintain peace.