Rajat Sharma

Burning of PM’s effigy as Ravana: Who directed this drama?

Burning of the Prime Minister’s effigies is not a good sign for democracy. It erodes people’s respect for Constitutional posts and weakens the very foundation of democracy.

akb2110On Sunday, during Dussehra festivities, effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were set on fire by farmers in several parts of Punjab and Haryana. Pictures of industrialists like Ambani and Adani, and Home Minister Amit Shah were pasted on the ten-headed effigy of Ravana and set on fire. India TV reporters investigated and found that local Congress leaders were behind most of these protests.

Burning of the Prime Minister’s effigies is not a good sign for democracy. It erodes people’s respect for Constitutional posts and weakens the very foundation of democracy. Had it been a stray and isolated incident, one could have ignored it, but the burning of PM’s effigies in the form of Ravana during Dussehra was done on a large scale in these two states at the behest of the Congress party.

In most of the places, Bharatiya Kisan Union activists were placed in front, while the backstage arrangements were made by local Congress leaders. It was all part of a well-coordinated strategy to tarnish the Prime Minister’s image.

On Monday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi posted a tweet, which amounted to indirectly dissociating his party from these protests. Rahul Gandhi used pictures of effigy burning and tweeted: “This happened all over Punjab yesterday. It’s sad that Punjab is feeling such anger towards PM. This is a dangerous precedent and is bad for our country. PM should reach out, listen and give a healing touch quickly.”

In Bathinda, a 12-feet high effigy of the PM along with pictures of Ambani and Adani was burnt. One hand of the effigy was shown carrying a hangman’s noose marked as farming laws, and the other hand was pouring tea into a cup from a kettle. In Nawanshahar, Modi’s effigy was accompanied by the effigies of Yogi Adityanath as Meghnad and Amit Shah as Kumbhakarna. The main person setting fire to these effigies was Yograj Singh, father of cricketer Yuvraj Singh. In Jalandhar, a local Congress MLA led NSUI and Youth Congress activists in setting fire to Modi’s effigy. No action was taken by police and local administration against those who burnt the PM’s effigies.

In neighbouring Haryana, Congress activists set fire to PM’s effigy in Yamunanagar, and the ten heads of the demon depicted pictures of all the ten BJP MPs from the state. Haryana police rounded up several Congress leaders in advance, but their supporters managed to set fire to the effigy. In Ambala, Congress and BKU had planned to burn effigies of Modi and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, but due to tight restrictions, no such protests took place, though a handful of Congress supporters managed to set fire to the effigies.

On the face of it, Rahul Gandhi is putting up an innocent face by saying that such an act of burning the PM’s effigy was “a dangerous precedent and bad for our country”, but he should rein in his own partymen who are indulging in such acts. BJP president Jagat Prakash Nadda alleged on Twitter: “The Rahul Gandhi-directed drama of burning PM’s effigy in Punjab is shameful, but not unexpected. After all, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has NEVER respected the office of the PM. This was seen in the institutional weaking of the PM’s authority during the UPA years of 2004-2014.”

I do not understand why Rahul Gandhi is hiding behind the farmers in targeting Narendra Modi. If he claims that he has the courage to speak up to Modi, then he should publicly admit that he and his party were behind these protests. For the last three years, Rahul Gandhi had been alleging that Modi was colluding with Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, and now his partymen are presenting them in the form of effigies of Ravana and his heads.

This act is a clear reflection of Rahul Gandhi’s thinking and there should be no doubt about it. If we go by what Rahul Gandhi has written in his tweet, then he should tell his party’s government in Punjab to take action against those who set fire to the PM’s effigies.

I feel that such double-faced attitude on part of Rahul Gandhi is not good. In a democracy, every body has the right to express opinion and stage protest against the government, but to use a religious and festive occasion to denigrate the Constitutional office of the Prime Minister is not good for democracy. Leaders may come, and leaders may go, but the prestige of the post of Prime Minister must not be tarnished.

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