Elected representatives must set a high standard of behaviour while conducting themselves in the public. The mandate has been given to serve the people, not to get drunk on the power that their position begets.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been sending out the message hard and clear, but somehow it seems to have failed to reach some party leaders who continue to make reckless statements, and worse, even appear to have no remorse about it. The recent controversies involving MP Pragya Singh Thakur and MLA Akash Vijayvargiya from Madhya Pradesh are a proof of that.
Thakur, a BJP MP from Bhopal, triggered a controversy on Sunday in Sehore district, when she told party workers that she ‘hasn’t been elected to clean gutters and toilets’. She made this comment when the BJP workers asked her questions related to civic issues like drainage system, etc.
"I haven’t been elected (as MP) to clear the gutter. I haven’t been made (MP) at all to clean your toilet. I'll do the work for which I've been elected with all honesty. I've been saying this; I'm saying it today and I'll keep saying it,” said Thakur.
The video clip with her statement went viral and the ruling Congress party in the state reacted sharply to it, giving rise to another round of controversy involving the firebrand MP.
Her comment was an embarrassment for the BJP as Modi has made the 'Swachh Bharat' (Clean India) programme a centrepiece of his government's agenda.
She is not alone though. On 26 June, Indore MLA Akash Vijayvargiya, son of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, had assaulted a municipal corporation officer with a cricket bat. The prime minister had reportedly condemned the action. However, BJP state disciplinary committee convener Babusingh Raghuvanshi stoked up the issue, saying that he wasn’t sure if Modi’s criticism of the action was directed at Akash.
Raghuvanshi told The Indian Express that Akash’s case had not been referred to the three-member disciplinary committee.
“Did he (PM Modi) name Akash? There were some other instances of indiscipline, maybe he referred to all of them together. Is there a sound byte or video of him saying what has been attributed to him,” Raghuvanshi said.
Lack of action against Akash has led to dissent within the party at the state level, as a few senior BJP leaders have termed the incident as an embarrassment for the party, especially after the prime minister's remark. Modi, in several statements — both inside and outside the Parliament — has made it clear that he and his party won't be patient with the arrogance of power.
Within a week of the Akash incident, Modi while addressing a BJP’s parliamentary board in New Delhi on 2 July had said, "Arrogance and misbehaviour won’t be tolerated irrespective of whoever’s son he maybe.” The prime minister had also hinted that action should be taken against the BJP leaders from Indore, who welcomed Akash after the latter was released on bail.
Irresponsible utterances and actions from party leaders like Thakur and Akash not only bring down their image but also that of the BJP, which wants to be seen as a disciplined party, different from others in its political culture.
Thakur's Sunday remark, however, was not the first time the firebrand leader left the BJP red-faced. During the Lok Sabha poll campaign at Agar Malwa in Madhya Pradesh, Thakur had hailed Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a ‘patriot’.
“Nathuram Godse ek deshbhakt the, hain aur rahenge (Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot and will always be one),” she had said.
In response to her statement, Modi had said, “I will never be able to forgive Thakur for insulting Mahatma Gandhi.”
BJP president Amit Shah had then asked the party's disciplinary committee to submit a report on the issue for further action. The BJP's ideological parent, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) too had condemned her comment and distanced itself from Thakur.
The party should set an example by initiating disciplinary action against both Thakur and Akash.
Recently, the BJP acted in the case of BJP MLA from Uttarakhand Pranav Singh Champion by expelling him for six years from the party after a video showing him dancing and brandishing a gun went viral. The party also served show-cause notice to former BJP MLA from Bhopal, Surendranath Singh, who apparently threatened to ‘spill the blood of Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath’ for the state government taking action against street vendors.
BJP working president JP Nadda on Monday summoned Thakur to the BJP headquarters and reportedly ‘pulled up’ the MP for her remarks in Sehore that were seen to be mocking Modi's 'Swachh Bharat' campaign. However, the message would be conveyed stronger if stringent action is taken against both Thakur and Akash and other motormouths in the BJP, as in the case of Champion and Singh.
Updated Date: Jul 22, 2019 20:02:13 IST