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V K Singh’s puppy analogy: What’s wrong with our leaders?

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VK Singh
MoS External affairs General VK Singh
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By Sapan Kapoor

The crude and unacceptable remarks of former Indian army chief and Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh on the brutal murder of two Dalit children who were burnt alive have left many a people speechless and shocked.

When asked to give his reaction on the ghastly incident in Haryana’s Faridabad wherein two Dalit children were burnt alive allegedly by members of an upper caste community, Singh said,

“When someone throws stones at a dog, the government cannot be blamed.”

Singh, however, later slammed the media for ‘misquoting’ him again. Here’s a look at some of the reactions on his remarks.

Alas, ever since this government has come to power, such off-the-cuff, controversial statements by leading ministers and politicians seem to have become the norm. It’s a new ‘normal’ for the Indian society.

Be it Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s ‘Haramzada’ remark in Delhi against Muslim community, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma calling Dadri lynching incident a mere ‘accident’, Giriraj Singh asking all detractors of PM Modi to be shifted to Pakistan, the political discourse in India sees a new low every day.

And then people wonder why PM Modi does not crack the whip and pull up his party’s bad boys. In my view, he is simply not in a position to do it considering his own questionable past record in this regard.

In 2013, during his whirlwind election campaign, when PM Modi was asked by Reuters in an interview if he felt any regret for what happened in 2002, he replied by saying,

“Another thing, any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.”

I am in no way implying that both PM Modi and V K Singh deliberately drew puppy analogy to insult Muslims and Dalits. They have indeed clarified that despite all the evidence on the record they were misquoted by media which seemed to be pursuing an agenda against them.

It might as well be true. After all the journalists like me are also human beings and can commit mistakes. I, however, fail to understand what is it that compels the BJP leaders to make such offensive remarks time and again. After Niranjan Jyoti’s offensive statement against Muslims, PM Modi sought to defend her in the Parliament saying that she should be forgiven considering her rural background.

People ought to be judged through their words and actions, for we are what we do, say or write. Therefore, a hatemonger cannot claim to be a saint or called a sadhvi, if his/her only job is to hurt people through their words, no matter what cloak they adorn to hide the evil inside them.

Therefore, if our honorable leaders do not wish be misquoted by the journalists like me, instead of running their mouths they had better keep their mouths shut as a precautionary measure.

Dear V K Singh, please avoid using words like ‘kutta’ while talking on the sensitive issues like burning alive of two Dalit children, if you do not wish to be ‘misunderstood’. For that is not only simply being politically incorrect, but being inhuman. The minister should know better.

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Modi, BJP Looks To Lose State Votes, Congress May Get a Boost

Analysts have been warning it would be a mistake to rule out BJP wins in all main Hindi-speaking states

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Modi, BJP
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally ahead of the Karnataka state assembly elections in Bengaluru, India. VOA

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party won a landslide in India’s last general election, in 2014, it grabbed almost all the parliamentary seats in the heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

But his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could be about to lose power in the three states – results of recent state assembly elections will be announced from early on Tuesday – which would raise huge questions over Modi’s bid for re-election in polls due by May.

Analysts say a big loss for the BJP in the states would indicate rural dismay and could help unite opposition to Modi, whose personal popularity remains high despite criticism he has not been able to keep a promise of creating jobs for young people and improving the lot of farmers.

Modi, Bank, BJP
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses a gathering in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian share markets and the rupee have already turned nervous, falling on Monday, the first trading day since exit polls said the BJP would lose Rajasthan, with the other two going down to the wire.

Equity analysts said the surprise resignation of the Reserve Bank of India governor, Urjit Patel, late on Monday after a long tiff with the government could send the markets crashing.

“As the three erstwhile BJP states have a large agrarian population, the BJP’s drubbing could be interpreted to mean that farm unrest is real, and the much vaunted increase in farm minimum support prices haven’t yielded material political dividends,” Nomura said in a research note.

“A rout of the BJP on its home-ground states should encourage cohesion among the opposition parties to strengthen the non-BJP coalition for the general elections.”

The central states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and the western state of Rajasthan, together account for 65 of the 543 seats for the lower house of parliament. Several research firms have said markets could fall sharply if the BJP loses all the three states currently held by them.

Modi, Bank, BJP
Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar.

Regional parties are likely to retain two other smaller sates, Telangana in the south and Mizoroma in the northeast, that also report results on Tuesday, the polls show.

The main opposition Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has been trying to form a coalition of various regional groups, some headed by experienced firebrand, ambitious politicians.

Congress has already said it would not name Gandhi, who is seen as lacking experience, as a prime ministerial candidate, keeping in mind the “aspirations” of other opposition parties.

Opposition Gathering

Leaders of 21 opposition parties, including Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also of the Congress, met in New Delhi on Monday as they sought to strengthen their stand against Modi.

In a likely boost for the opposition, a federal minister, Upendra Kushwaha, said on Monday he would pull his small party out of the BJP-led coalition.

India,India, elections, BJP
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

Media has speculated he would join Modi’s opponents ahead of the general election.

The BJP says the planned opposition alliance would be fractious, would struggle to find focus and would be riven by competing interests.

The BJP has also cast doubt on the exit surveys, saying they have underestimated its performance in the three states.

Also Read: Narendra Modi Accuses Congress of Doing Divisive Politics

While analysts have been warning it would be a mistake to rule out BJP wins in all main Hindi-speaking states, they have also warned that the party has lost the narrative to an extent.

Sriram Karri, a political strategist and author, said the BJP government was losing its sheen because it was afraid to take “big bold moves,” like including fuel in a unified goods and services tax and cutting income tax. (VOA)