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Has shooter shot BJP's chances in Delhi?

By AMULYA GANGULI
February 01, 2020 11:52 IST
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'Having fared not too successfully in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, the BJP can't afford to disappoint its supporters in Delhi,' says Amulya Ganguli.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

IMAGE: The man who fired at protesters gathered to protest the Citizenship Amendment Act, near Jamia Millia Islamia University, in New Delhi, January 30, 2020. Photograph: PTI Photo

Even as deradicalisation of the Kashmiri youth is on, as the chief of defence staff, General Bipin Rawat, has revealed, the confession of the shooter near the Jamia Millia university shows that radicalisation is proceeding apace elsewhere in the country.

According to the juvenile whose firing injured a Jamia student, he had been influenced by inflammatory content on social media and had also attended a Bajrang Dal rally.

The police have described him as having been self-radicalised, which means that he did not attend a training school on hate but imbibed it from the Internet and provocative pamphlets.

While the deradicalisation process in Kashmir is obviously aimed at 'cleansing' the minds of Islamic militants, there does not appear to be any such endeavour about Hindutva fanatics learning their craft from WhatsApp.

So, the incident outside the university is unlikely to induce an effort to purge the social media of hateful content directed at the Left-Liberal/pro-Pakistani/Khan Market gang, which is one of the labels for the government's opponents.

The radicalisation, therefore, of the saffron patriots is likely to continue.

Except that it may prove to be counterproductive for the government just before the Delhi elections.

As reports suggest, Union Home Minister Amit Anilchandra Shah called upon the police not to spare the culprit.

His advice could not but have been prompted by the thought that the Class 12 student may have shot the BJP in the foot by his zeal.

But the delinquent himself must have been taken aback by any unkind treatment by the police.

He may have presumed that he would be treated leniently like the masked invaders at Jawaharlal Nehru University who were likened to the Pakistani terrorists of 26/11 by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

None of them has yet been arrested.

The shooter's presumption would have been based on the belief that he was acting against the 'traitors', as Union Minister Anurag Thakur had asked his listeners to do at a rally.

Now, he probably feels betrayed.

So, what has changed?

Is it a dawning of sense in the saffron camp that it is dicey to cross certain lines even in a Hindu rashtra in the making -- that it is one thing to make incendiary speeches and quite another for a listener to convert words into deeds ?

The Delhi election is clearly another constraint, especially when the BJP's prospects are not considered too bright.

Having fared not too successfully in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, the BJP cannot afford to disappoint its supporters in Delhi as well.

A slippage in the national capital will mean that the party will approach the Bihar election later in the year rather apprehensively.

Hence, the caution over the juvenile's act.

But there is little doubt that the radicalisation of others like him will continue via social media.

It is too handy a tool to be forsaken because of a single act of indiscretion.

But there will be no end of the deradicalisation of the Kashmiris.

Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs.

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