Is Akash Vijayvargiya’s assault on municipal officer the image of BJP's new India?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's famous 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' and 'Sabka Vishwas' have sent wrong signals to his own party leaders. The lower-rung leaders of the BJP have twisted the 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' and have thought up an action plan for that — urge, request and then, beat up black and blue. This was recently proved right when 34-year-old BJP MLA from Indore, Akash Vijayvargiya, said that he does not feel either guilty or embarrassed for assaulting, in public view, Indore Municipal Corporation officer, Dhirendra Bais, with a cricket bat.

Akash Vijayvargiya, son of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, feels that the attack was “in the public interest”. The first-time MLA was caught on camera assaulting municipal officer Dhirendra Singh Bais with a cricket bat on June 26 while opposing the demolition of a dilapidated house in Ganji Compound area of the city. He was arrested four days ago and a Bhopal-based court on Saturday granted him bail. He walked out of the jail Sunday morning.

While the municipal officials say they were assaulted in the line of duty, as per media reports, Vijayvargiya’s side has variously claimed that the officials were demolishing houses that were structurally sound by falsely claiming that they were dilapidated, misbehaved with local women and assaulted peaceful protestors. But, what is on camera is Akash Vijayvargiya claiming legitimacy for the assault, saying “avedan, nivedan aur phir de dana dan (application, request and then assault)” is “our line of action”.

This incident shows how elected representatives are breaking the law themselves and feel that they are invincible. A lawmaker taking the law into his own hands in such a brutal manner, and then brazening it out in such a casual, manner, is an infraction that deserves the strictest penalty. It looks scandalous, an elected official assaulting a municipal officer shows, at its core, a disrespect for the administration, the front-line officials who form the backbone of governance. Secondly, after Akash got bail, the BJP's local unit was seen celebrating and dancing to the beats of drums in front of Vijayvargiya's office and he was even welcomed with garlands and sweets making him feel that he was some kind of a hero. This indicates a disturbing mindset in a constitutional democracy, which means an elected legislator can flaunt the people’s mandate to take law in his own hand.

Out on bail, the MLA’s justification has been that municipal officials “dragged women by their feet” from a building that was set to be demolished. While the attack has been caught on camera, Akash’s allegations have not been proved. And even if they were true, a person holding constitutional office must know that it is for the police and the judiciary to investigate and pass judgment on criminal matters.

Well, his actions also betray a lack of confidence in his own party, because the Indore Municipal Corporation is controlled by the BJP. The building in question had been marked for demolition more than a year ago, as the dilapidated structure has been assessed as too fragile and dangerous for human habitation. By attacking an official for doing his job, the BJP MLA has further derailed the already fraught exercise of urban governance.

Akash is the same person who termed Rahul Gandhi ‘Gadhon ka sartaj’. His father is the same person who termed Priyanka Gandhi a 'chocolaty face'. If Akash Vijayvargiya’s actions were appalling, his father and BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s reaction to a journalist’s question on the matter reflects the pathological arrogance of power. BJP is also betraying the trust of the people who trusted the party for good governance by failing to take exemplary disciplinary action against the leader.

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