(SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • In a Hindu-majority country, the BJP is seen as a nationalist party by default. It should not blow it by thumping its chest too often and reducing nationalism to the proverbial stick to beat opponents with.

With evidence now surfacing that the video showing Kanhaiya Kumar raising anti-national slogans may be doctored, the BJP should make a quick retreat from its hyper-national positioning on this issue and drop the sedition case against the jailed President of the JNU Students Union. It has already made him a hero, and there is no need for courting further ignominy in the matter.

India Today TV yesterday (18 February) aired a story which indicated that the real anti-national sloganeering happened during an Afzal Guru event, and that the audio of that event was spliced into another video showing Kanhaiya Kumar raising slogans against Brahminism, casteism, feudalism, capitalism and the RSS. This is the usual political nonsense peddled by JNU’s students and hardly seditious. You can find any number of Sanghis talking equal nonsense on the other side.

While it is possible that the Delhi police have other evidence to nail Kanhaiya Kumar, the case is still a political loser as bringing the might of the state against students will never go down well.

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The BJP should know that nationalism is not a card to be played every other day. It needs to understand that wrapping itself in the flag is no different from Muslims rallying to every cry of Islam in danger. Crying wolf repeatedly means that when nationalism actually comes under attack, the people will not respond. While HRD Minister Smriti Irani can surely ask central universities to hoist a national flag at heights of 207 feet, the attempt to call too many people as anti-national is counter-productive.

The BJP should learn a lesson from the Congress, the Left and the regional parties, which have completely debased the idea of secularism. In the Indian context, the word is used as a cover for ratcheting up minority communalism, even while lumping only Sangh activities in the communal category. If today secularism is the first resort of the political scoundrel keen on consolidating the minority vote bank by repeated scare-mongering, the BJP should be equally careful not to let nationalism sink in the same swamp of murky politics.

The BJP should be confident that as a perceived Hindu-based party, it has the advantage of being seen as nationalist by default in a Hindu-majority country. It should not blow it by thumping its chest too often and reducing nationalism to the proverbial stick to beat opponents with.

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