A few weeks ago, Minister of State for Human Resources Ram Shanker Katheria, allegedly suggested that Muslims were demons and people should be ready for a final battle. The MP from Agra was speaking at the condolence meeting arranged in the memory of murdered Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Arun Mathur. A youth who shares his first name with King Khan, was arrested in connection with the murder. And hence, Katheria's anger against the community he did not name, to be on the safe side of the law.
Also present at the meeting was ex-Agra BJP corporator Kundanika Sharma, who gave the war cry. “Behead ten heads for one head.” She was arrested, and freed on bail.
Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, described the hate speech attributed to Katheria as an indication of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh being in the offing. He reacted as a politician from a rival party would. But the condolence meeting has resulted in quite a few interesting fallouts.
Kundanika joined the pro-Muslim Samajwadi Party on April 16. Her grouse: she was feeling suffocated in the BJP, which was ignoring dedicated workers like her. And she alleges that she had been framed by seniors—read Katheria—in order to protect themselves.
At the function to mark her entry into the SP, Shivpal Yadav, the party-in-charge for the 2017 assembly polls in UP, announced her candidature from Agra North. She will take on four-time MLA Jagan Prasad Garg of the BJP.
Katheria, it is said, was part of the Sangh Parivar's effort to clarify that they will avenge the “martyrdom” of their dear Mathur. One does not know how they plan to do it. But the store of Mathur, who ran a furniture business, was opened by Sadiq Ansari, his close friend and employee. Ansari in his 50s, told some reporters that he joined Mathur's business when he was 10. Now there were orders pending, and so he had opened the shop.
The residents of the area—Mantola—cutting across the communal divide, maintained that Shahrukh was given to violence and criminal tendencies, and always carried a knife—tamancha—with him. He had threatened Mathur with murder. And he was arrested for it. The people have refused to let Mathur become a martyr to communal politics.
In effect, the name of yet another BJP leader—a minister at that—was dragged into a hate speech row; the party lost a worker of 27 years to a staunch rival, and failed to manage the situation on the ground.
Wonder whether the BJP and the Sangh Parivar have heard of a boomerang?