Who's your daddy... crooned American country music singer Toby Keith in 2002. “A bull,” I would have 'proudly' told him today. Shocked? Well, if cow is my maata (mother), as the RSS School of Hindutva would have us believe, then it's only logical, isn't it?
Bullshit or cow dung, the whole 'save the gau maata movement' has caused a stink. When a nation—the 'majority', that is—values a cow more than its women, even a tea-seller can guess there's something seriously wrong. When people are ready to kill a fellow human being to 'save' a cow, you know the rot runs deep.
If the social media trends are anything to go by, another 'majority', thankfully, seem to think otherwise. The hashtag war over beef politics started with the meat ban in Maharashtra earlier this year, with the BJP government in the state imposing a five-year jail sentence and Rs 10,000 fine for the sale or possession of beef. Twitterati vented their rage and frustration with #beefban, which soon became one of world's top trending hashtags, and was used almost 40,000 times within a single day. The showdown was not limited to social media. Opposition parties and their student wings, and public groups held beef festivals across the country—Maharashtra, Kerala, and cities like Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata—to protest against the #beefpolitics.
However, what shocked the conscience of the country was the lynching of a 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, by a mob that suspected him of consuming and storing beef in his house. What hurt people more was the studied silence of those who mattered, while the rabble-rousers had a field day. The anger spawned #DadriLynching, which went viral within a few hours. But the matter of concern is that the power and reach of the social media, especially WhatsApp, was also used to drum up support for the ghastly act.
While the outrage over the lynching incident was yet to die down, came an absolute shocker from Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. He said Muslims can live in the country as long as they didn't eat beef, as cow was “an article of faith here”. Not one to rest with one foot in the mouth, he shoved the other foot, too, saying, “Eating beef hurts the sentiments of another community, even constitutionally you cannot do this. The Constitution says you cannot do something that offends me, I cannot do something that offends you.” Poor Babasaheb Ambedkar, he must be spinning like a top in his grave.
The chief minister was taken to the cleaners on Twitter, with #Khattar managing to reach 98,29,022 accounts and make 1,23,66,408 impressions between October 15 and 17. An illustrious student of the RSS School of Hindutva—a relationship spanning over 40 years—Khattar was in the eye of the storm during the assembly polls last year, when he blamed the women for rising number of rapes in India.
Not that the whole world was against Khattar for his remarks on Dadri lynching. He had BJP's loose-cannon-in-chief Sakshi Maharaj for support, who said there was nothing wrong in what Khattar said. Maharaj, in fact, advocated for death penalty for cow slaughter.
Last heard, BJP president Amit Shah summoned them and other habitual offenders like Mahesh Sharma and Sangeet Som and warned them against making controversial statements that might dent the party's image. Playing to the galleries, eh Mr Shah?