NaMo Bowls a No-Ball

The PM of Bharat, Narendra Modi, at the recent town-hall style meeting in the national capital, expressed his displeasure on the alleged corruption existing in the ‘Gau Raksha’ movement of the country. NaMo, while trying to bifurcate the devotion to cow inherently felt by vast majority of the Hindu masses into ‘Gau Bhakti’ and ‘Gau Seva’, commented that ‘Rajas’ while fighting ‘Baadshahs’ used to lose battles because the latter used to strategically place cows in front of their armies. The PM remarked that most of the gau rakshaks (cow protection volunteers) have made this activity a ‘business’ and if the states will make dossiers of these ‘swayamsevi’ (self serving) gau rakshaks, about 70 to 80% of gau rakshaks will be found involved in illegitimate/corrupt work.

Modi ji, unfortunately this dilutes a legitimate cause. Instead of cautioning people that the gau raksha abhiyan is being infiltrated by petty criminals and political trouble-makers, you have labelled the overwhelming majority of gau rakshaks as criminals, thereby besmirching the reputation of many well-meaning volunteers. It is common knowledge that there would be no vigilantism if police and administration had done their job. Saying that 80% of gau rakshaks are petty criminals and states should maintain dossiers on them, is discrediting the whole movement by leaps and bounds. You can’t paint an entire movement with black tar; these are people who are doing an extremely tough job and now they have been left out in the cold.

Giving in to the narrative

Mr. PM, it appears that you have given in to the media narrative instead of contesting it. The flogging of Dalits in Una, Gujarat, ostensibly for skinning dead cows, was barbaric and it was rightly condemned by one and all. Given the hysteria whipped up in media over the last few weeks regarding Una, and clubbed with other random incidents of atrocities against Dalits, a narrative has been built that there is a ‘rising’ graph of crimes against Dalits and minorities by gau rakshaks, especially in BJP ruled states. This narrative had to be contested and you were right to speak up.

But your choice of words and approach to the issue left a lot to be desired. Surely, you are aware that there are enough question marks over the Una incident which carries the distinct imprint of the Congress Dirty Tricks Department (CDTD)? Many of the alleged ‘gau rakshaks’ who thrashed the Dalits are from Darbar caste, which is known to be loyal to Congress in the state, while Una itself is a Congress stronghold – Vansh Punjabhai Bhimabhai of INC is a 4-time MLA from Una. Interestingly, one of the accused ‘gau rakshaks’ is a Muslim, who found it worthwhile to indulge in flogging the Dalits for skinning dead cows, which has been their generational occupation. The role of Congress in plotting the recent Haryana riots shows the level they can stoop to. If not you, at least some official spokesperson of the BJP should be publicizing these facts that media is suppressing.

Why is BJP always playing catch up and in ‘crisis management’ mode over the narrative created by media and political opponents? The moment the Una incident happened, knowing the sensitivity of the issue, a senior cabinet minister could have visited the spot and Home Ministry should have started monitoring the investigation. A top-notch crisis management and communications team is a must to ensure the party and Government stay ahead of the curve, because hit-jobs against you will only intensify.

Anyone who has been following the incidents on cow trafficking and related crimes, or attended the programs of any gau raksha organization, knows the level of risk undertaken by many gau rakshaks out of pure devotion to Hindu Dharma. Why haven’t you or someone from BJP mentioned the dozens of  police and civilian lives lost each year to the cow trafficking mafia, an illegal trade which has tragic consequences like this mowing down of three members of a family (including a three year old) by a cow smuggler in Amravati, Maharashtra. During this whole gau raksha debate, why hasn’t any senior BJP leader raised the murder of VHP’s Dalit leader Arun Mahaur, or that of flower vendor Prashant Poojary – both of them killed for being gau rakshaks.

Apart from the Hindu reverence for cow, it continues to be the backbone of village economy and has the capability of sustaining its own expenses to a great extent even in old age. True, many cows are suffering even in state run goshalas (cow shelters), but that problem can be solved by freeing Hindu temple money which is currently diverted for various ‘secular’ causes.

What about Hindu causes?

Hindus do not ask for much, Modi ji – all they want is to be treated on par with other communities and be allowed to nurture their civilizational legacy. Two years back, while running for office, you had injected the issue of ‘Pink Revolution’ out of your own volition during the poll campaign. You had asked whether ‘it is part of the Bharatiya psyche to make money out of meat’? Your speeches instilled a new hope into millions of hearts of practicing Hindus and they sprung into action with double zeal to get you voted to power.

But since you came to power, beef export has gone through the roof. You made an election issue out of caring for the cow – but two years down the line, there seems to be a complete turnaround. While overall exports are down, only beef exports are growing. The Bharatiya breeds of buffaloes are being slaughtered and exported while there is rampant smuggling of cows, bulls and calves. Your government is continuing with the policies of the previous UPA Government which subsidized and encouraged the set-up of slaughter houses, heavily commoditizing the lives of Bharatiya cattle.

Will the issue of gau raksha become another Ram Janmabhoomi? Is this a tool of electoral mobilization, or an article of faith?  If you cannot support a movement, please don’t sabotage it from within and outside. Instead of clarifying the issue of fake gau rakshaks besmirching the movement, you are inadvertently chopping your own limbs. Hindus are still waiting for your Government to act on reversing/modifying discriminatory laws like RTE and temple laws.

Rekindle the fighting spirit

This is not the first time you have given in to the narratives set by a very strategic opposition backed by a malicious national media. Even on the alleged ‘Church Attacks’, you went on the defensive and gave in to the prevailing narrative by establishing a helpline for Christians. Also, has the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ program been put on hold? Why didn’t BJP use the opening provided by ‘Ghar Wapsi’ critics to talk about the abusive, aggressive & culture destroying Christian proselytization which is rapidly changing demographics in states like Arunachal Pradesh?

All this is very surprising given the way you resisted the media narrative that you were guilty of fanning the 2002 riots, for years altogether. Where has that fighting spirit & combativeness gone? 

Uni-dimensional views can be counter-productive. The PM’s remarks are akin to saying that politics should be abolished because a few politicians are corrupt. In Adarsh scam, no less than 2 Army chiefs were involved – does that mean you bash the entire Army? No. Then how do you besmirch the gau raksha movement by labeling 70-80% of them as petty criminals. It is highly demoralizing for those who have taken great personal risks and invested emotional energy in the cause.

Modi ji, every Hindu who understands the miseries of continuing colonial systems, relates to and respects you in some way. We understand the enormity of the task that faced you when you took oath on 26 May, 2014 – a faltering economy, crumbling infrastructure, rusting defence, sky-high corruption, powerful Nehruvian establishment, and Hinduphobes embedded deep in our polity. We appreciate the giant steps taken in the last two years on the development front, albeit with some hiccups, and the corruption free governance you have provided. But in correcting the unjust laws against Hindus and in setting the agenda, your Government has been found wanting.

The integrity towards Dharmic pysche of Bharat that is at the root of your popularity must not be let down.