“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
The spate of political violence and hatred started after the installation of new government in Tripura needs to be condemned. These incidents only prove how the politics of hatred and violence is prevalent all over, because people with criminal mentality have no fear of law. The unrest over the vandalism of statues of iconic leaders intensified on Wednesday after a petrol bomb was hurled at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s office in Coimbatore and the bust of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee being defaced at Kalighat in Kolkata. This comes after a statue of Left idealogue Vladamir Lenin was toppled in Tripura on Monday and a statue of Dravidian icon Periyar was vandalised in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore on Tuesday. The nearly 11-ft tall fibre glass statue, which stood on a pedestal at College Square at Belonia town, headquarters of South Tripura district, was brought down with the help of a bulldozer. An official source made it known that the statue was erected sometime around 2015 at the cost of nearly Rs 5 lakh and a local artist has sculpted it. The fund had come from the Tripura Urban Employment Programme (TUEP). A bust of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was on Wednesday vandalised in south Kolkata by seven persons, including a woman, allegedly belonging to a Left-wing group ‘Radical’.
From Monday to Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) underwent a quick transformation in its views on vandalising statues. When images of Lenin’s statue being brought down emerged on social media on Monday night, there was a sense of jubilation in the saffron camp. The party’s general secretary, Ram Madhav, tweeted: “People taking down Lenin’s statue….not in Russia. It is in Tripura. Chalo Paltai”. The last phrase was the BJP slogan in the elections, announcing its determination to change the regime. It got legitimacy from none other than the Tripura governor, Tathagata Roy through his tweet – “What one democratically elected government can do, another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa.” He, it seems, has forgotten that a new government in his state is yet to be installed. It will lead to war of icons if every new government takes it upon itself to pull down old statues and erect new ones –its own icons. But the strong stance came from party leaders like president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the realisation that these incidents could be politically costly. Union home minister Rajnath Singh needs to be commended for quickly sensing the vacuum in governance and instructing the police to take charge of the situation.
That is precisely the bizarre situation people are witnessing at present. The vandalism targeting their statues is reprehensible. Modi and Shah have rightfully condemned it. But judging by the comments of BJP leaders such as Ram Madhav, they need to do some convincing in their own ranks. The defacement of the statues of Periyar and Lenin by disciplined foot soldiers of the Sangh Parivar constitutes a sign of the times. Action should be taken against those who endorse such acts or issues hate-filled tweet expressing solidarity with perpetrators of such crimes — a scenario that needs to be averted at all costs.