Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diktat appears to have made no impact on BJP’s motormouths as they continue to blurt out weird and distasteful public statements, causing acute embarrassment to the government. Caught in the eye of a storm is Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb who has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Once again demonstrating his penchant for absurdity, he advised the youth of his State to not run after politicians for government jobs and, instead, milk cows and open pan shops. Deb, who took charge of Tripura last month after the BJP unseated the CPI (M) from power, had earlier sought to run down Miss World Diana Hayden while praising Aishwarya Rai as an epitome of Indian beauty. The Chief Minister left everyone confused when he suggested that only civil engineers are fit for Civil Services and advised mechanical engineers not to aspire to become civil servants. There was another shocker from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He asked the aggrieved people and parents of children, who died in a recent train-school van collision, not to crowd around the site and stage a “nautanki” of a protest. Such preposterous statements from the BJP leaders must stop. The ruling party is already fast losing out in the battle of perception in an increasingly divisive atmosphere prevailing in the country as its leaders from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir and Karnataka have been shooting off their mouths on social issues that are at variance with the avowed policies of the government.
Whether it was Deb’s claim that Internet existed during the Mahabharata period or Anant Hegde’s remarks on changing the Constitution or Adityanath’s take on Taj Mahal, the BJP leaders’ thoughtless observations end up vitiating the social atmosphere in the country. The tendency to impose a particular narrative, with religious overtones, runs contrary to the secular ethos of the country. Already, the growing instances of cow vigilantism have done an irreparable damage to the country’s image. An atmosphere of fear prevails, particularly in the BJP-ruled States where cow vigilantism is sought to be eulogised as valour. It is time for the BJP leadership to rein in the motormouths of the party and draw a clear red line on public statements. Such flippant outbursts not only create social schism but also distract the attention from more pressing public issues. By shooting their mouths off, these leaders create fresh problems for the government and end up normalising the fringe elements. The idea of India is essentially a celebration of diversity; a triumph of inclusiveness over exclusivist bigotry. Any attempt to create discord among different streams of worldview would tantamount to damaging these very core values.