With his dangerous gloating about how BJP governments have shot anti-CAA-NRC protesters “like dogs, dragged them away and even slapped cases” BJP’s Bengal president Dilip Ghosh has also shot his party in the foot, as he appears to confirm opposition claims of brutal treatment of protesters wherever BJP is in office. If governments are to treat those opposed to their policies as Ghosh has prescribed, even BJP activists like Ghosh would be in great danger wherever they are in opposition. By advocating murder and inhuman treatment of protesters, Ghosh has proved himself unworthy of occupying a leadership position in a democracy.
Ghosh must be sacked forthwith, failing which BJP will be doing immense damage to its own campaign to drum up support for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. After all, showing tolerance to dissent is what India’s Constitution envisages and Indian democracy is all about. If Ghosh threatens merely to shoot protesters, it will be presumed that BJP has no better arguments for CAA. Indeed, it’s hard to recall vitriol like Ghosh’s even during India’s infamous Emergency. If the country comes to a standstill because of prevailing polarisation, BJP’s interests will be hurt the most as the electorate will hold the ruling establishment to account for breakdown in governance. Yet extremist rhetoric such as Ghosh’s will only sharpen distrust, foreclosing any meeting ground between government and opposition. This is not how a mainstream party, let alone a party in office, speaks.
BJP has great ambitions for as well as a wonderful opportunity in Bengal – given current misrule in the state. Yet it could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if it entrusts its state unit to leaders of Ghosh’s calibre. It’s not enough for other BJP leaders to merely distance themselves from his statements. He should be divested of his position in the party.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.