What does an elected representative do when he is bored with the proceedings in the assembly? Hmmmm. Recently, a BJP MLA sitting in the Tripura assembly, watched pornographic videos. He wasn’t the first. In 2012, three BJP MLAs in Karnataka were caught purportedly watching porn in the assembly. In the Gujarat assembly, two MLAs from the same party reportedly indulged in similar misdemeanours.
The BJP celebrates its foundation Day on 6 April. Here is a motley crew of six more BJP leaders who did not do their party proud.
1. Brij Bhushan Singh: The BJP MP and president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was on the radar in recent months as wrestlers protested against him, alleging intimidation and sexual exploitation. Top wrestlers of the country like Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have alleged that he had sexually assaulted women wrestlers for years. He has been asked to ‘step aside’ until a committee investigates and submits its report. The man’s term ends in April, and he will anyway not be eligible for the post since he has completed three tenures as WFI president. Matter brushed under the mat.
2. Tejasvi Surya: While on a flight from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli in December 2022, the BJP MP ‘accidentally’ (how sweet!) opened the aircraft’s emergency exit without any authorisation. The flight was delayed by two hours. Even though in the past, passengers have been booked for similar acts, the airline refused to name the politician in their statement and only made other details public after a month.
3. Anurag Thakur:“Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalon ko!”
4. Akash Vijayvargiya: A BJP MLA from Madhya Pradesh and the son of Kailash Vijayvargiya (who was also BJP’s leader in-charge of Bengal), he beat up an official of the Indore Municipal Corporation in full public view with a cricket bat. The incident was caught on camera by the media. Akash Vijayvargiya later went on record to justify his actions.
5. Ashish Mishra: Son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra has been accused of mowing down four farmers and a journalist during a farmers’ protest in Lakhimpur Kheri in 2021. It has been over a year and there has been no resolution. The case goes on. He has been granted interim bail. Ajay Mishra did not step down as Union Minister. After the incident, Ajay Mishra commented during a live-streamed video that there were “dogs barking and chasing his car”.
6. Pragya Thakur: This BJP MP is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case that killed six and injured over 101 people. She is currently out on bail. She recently gave a speech where she asked the majority community to keep their knives sharp and attack those who affront their dignity. She has made hate speech her brand identity.
Life has been cushy for the motley crew described in this column. On the other hand, there have been numerous instances of students, journalists, and human rights activists who have been booked under draconian laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code commonly known as the sedition law, and the National Security Act. These have become prime instruments for stifling any sort of dissent against the Union government.
Are we surprised that India now ranks 77 out of 140 countries on the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index? 94 out of 140 on adherence to fundamental rights, 111 out of 140 on civil justice, and 105 out of 140 on order and security.
On its Foundation Day, amid all the gala celebrations, the ‘world’s largest political party (sic)’ would do well to take a long, hard look at itself in a mirror.
[This article appeared on NDTV.com | Tuesday, April 4, 2023]