Playing the Dalit and Mandir card

Ajay Singh Bisht says the Dalit should get reservation in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia. A Thakur calling for reservation for the Dalit is laudable. But Ajay Singh Bisht happens to be chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. So, it smacks politics.

To the BJP, Ajay Singh Bisht is ‘Yogi Adityanath’. The Congress laughs at the hypocrisy. In Gorakhpur, once Bisht’s parliamentary constituency, he’s ‘mahant of Gorakhpur mutt’. What Gorakhpur Muslims call Bisht is anybody’s guess. But for gangsters of UP, he’s ‘skull-and-cross’, the symbol signifying danger on high-tension electrical installations. Bisht’s tolerance for gangsters is near zero. To him, ‘a dead gangster is the best gangster!’

Encounter-killings of gangsters have hit new highs ever since Bisht took charge of UP in 2017. A good proportion of the encountered felons were Dalit and Muslim. When an MP, Bisht had broken down in the Lok Sabha insisting that the police had set him up for an ‘encounter-killing’.

Today, he is playing Yama and Captain Courageous at once. If Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was half as brave, the Tillu and Gogi gangs troubling Delhi’s Wild West and North wouldn’t be running riot, killing bystanders and each other. That said, Bisht is hard to place. The day after he became chief minister, he started a jihad against love and Romeo squads went after boys and girls necking in Lucknow and other places in Uttar Pradesh.

The feeling one got was that Ajay Singh Bisht doesn’t like to see in others what he isn’t. Those who were unafraid of police encounters were made to be afraid like him! And Romeo squads were set upon those who held hands and mouthed sweet nothings, in a subtle way told to be celibate!

The allegation is that Ajay Singh Bisht does not have his heart in the right place. Not a squeak from Bisht when Rohit Vemula committed suicide and the Dalit question roiled India. It was another matter that later reports said Rohit Vemula was an OBC; even after that the whole Dalit question stood unaffected.

Now, 12 months short of general elections, with the Dalit and Muslim seemingly coming together to see the back of BJP in 2019, Thakur Ajay Singh Bisht has given another twist to the dog-eared Dalit card, in a bid to set the Muslim on the Dalit’s throat and vice versa.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra says the BJP is only exposing the “hypocrisy” in the opposition but Patra cannot be trusted as Bisht cannot be and Mayawati cannot be and Akhilesh Yadav cannot be, all politicians cannot be, period.

Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap anchors ‘Halla Bol’ on the channel and she makes sure that the ‘Halla’ created justifies the programme title. Other Hindi TV programme titles include ‘Dangal’, ‘Taal Thok Ke’ and ‘Aar Par’. Macho titles that take decibel to levels that will put Arnab Goswami to shame.

And fodder for these programmes comes from statements such as Yogi Adityanath’s. For a month before the Karnataka election, Jinnah’s photograph in AMU made noise on Halla Bol and Dangal but once the Karnataka polls was over, Jinnah’s picture on AMU’s wall was forgotten. Now, ‘Dalit in AMU’ has become the Halla Bol!

Bisht also said on Monday that ‘Mandir Wahin Banega’ and ‘Banega Isi Saal’. A Hindu saint, sitting on the banks of the Sarayu, told Anjana Om Kashyap, “Now or never. The court verdict will be in our favour and the Mandir will be made on the spot where Ram Lalla was born. Banke Rahega Ram Mandir!”

That means what? It means the BJP has chosen its poll-planks for 2019. Kapil Sibal’s biggest fear is coming true – the temple issue will be flagged and flogged to death in the coming months and, going forward, from July 6 on, the Supreme Court will hear the temple-masjid case and deliver a judgement.

Add to ‘Mandir Wahin Banega’, Amit Shah’s ‘370 Jayega’ and Hindu nationalism will be in full cry. Pinpricks like fingering the ‘Dalit Card’ will keep the opposition engaged. There is very little that separates Ajay Singh Bisht from Yogi Adityanath, Halla Bol and Aar-Par, the Dangal is Taal Thoke Ke.

Aditya Aamir is an independent journalist. Views are personal.

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