‘Your sister ties rakhi on your wrist. You, in return, gift her clothes, jewelry and sweets. People who spend Rs one lakh on a mobile phone should shell out another Rs 1, 000 to gift a sword for their sisters so that when a ‘love jihadi’ glances at her, she would be brave enough to behead him’.
This is a sample of the speech delivered by Sadhvi Balika Saraswati, the leader of the Madhya Pradesh-based Sanathan Dharma Prachar Seva Samiti at a function organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Kasaragod on April 27. Ravish Kumar who had been a BJP candidate in Kasaragod, was present on stage during the speech. Hate speeches by the Sangh Parivar that include words inappropriate to be used in this column are a norm in north India. It was not much rampant in Kerala until now. This is not because the Sangh Parivar leaders in Kerala are tolerant or have a progressive stance. But it is because they have realized that it would bring them more harm than good in the state. However, of late, speeches that are reminiscent of north India are becoming more common in Kerala as well. The incendiary speech in Kasaragod is only a latest instance.
There are many aspects related to this that should be subjected to serious deliberation. The nation is advancing towards general elections to be held next year. The Narendra Modi government, which came to power by giving many assurances, has not been able to deliver on any of them. It is only a fact that nobody can fully accomplish all the election promises. But this is not what has happened in the case of Modi government. Demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST) have crushed the backbone of the country’s economy. Even as the fuel price surges uncontrollably, the government fails to give even a logical explanation. All these factors have stirred up public ire against the government. Sangh Parivar knows best that creating a religious and caste divide is the easiest way to overcome this. They are adept at carrying out that experiment which means that we must anticipate a series of hate speeches and communal riots from now on.
At present, the Sangh Parivar perceives that the atmosphere in Kerala has changed to a state where hate speeches would be received well and get support. This is what encourages them to organize the business of hate akin to the north Indian model here as well. Therefore, this is a situation which should be viewed in all seriousness by the secular society.
The lax approach adopted by the LDF government in Kerala in effectively dealing with the hate speeches by the Sangh Parivar had already invited criticisms earlier. Take the instance of Kasaragod. The hate speech took place on April 27th. It was also known earlier that Sadhvi Saraswati would be speaking at the function. This woman saint is the one who exacerbated the social atmosphere at Mangaluru by giving a hate speech in March 2015. The Mangaluru police had then booked her under 153 (A). There are similar complaints against her in Goa and other parts of the country. However, the Kasaragod police booked her only three days after she spoke at the function on April 27th. That too, only in the backdrop of social activists filing a complaint and the widespread outcry against the government on social media. Even then the police have not been ready to take action against the organizers of the function.
It is a fact that the police fail to, let alone stop the campaigns by the Sangh parivar aimed at creating social unrest across the state, even to file suo motu case against the organizers. The police come forward to file cases for the sake of it only when extensive social media campaigns follow, or criticisms arise from the left quarters itself. In an analysis of the communal riots that took place in north India, there is one thing that emerges: in all those places it is after taking sufficient time and ensuring a community mind-set ripe for riot that the Sangh parivar unleashed the disturbances. The persistent speeches here can be seen as efforts to drive people to a similar mind-set. But it has been proved time and again that the Home Ministry of Kerala repeatedly failed in stopping this and in bringing to books the perpetrators. Criticisms to this effect have been raised even at party forums. But sad to say, those at the helm do not try to rise to the occasion to take them in a constructive spirit. The government has to show greater vigilance to prevent matters getting out of hand.