The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has found itself in the midst of a fresh controversy over its latest political catch – former Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Naresh Chandra Agarwal, a man who has had significant trouble in figuring what to utter and what not on multiple occasions.
Agarwal, a seven-time Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Hardoi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, made the political switch after losing out on the Rajya Sabha nomination to Jaya Bachchan, someone he chose to brand as “filmon mein kaam karne wali”.
Twitter was quick to erupt in shock and disgust, given Agarwal’s tryst with words in the past have left many angry, baffled, and even led a few to question his sanity. Questioning the BJP’s need to embrace him, online supporters have not shied away from showcasing their reservations against this move.
Their reservations are not completely unjustified, for the ‘sins’ of Agarwal make him a questionable element for any political party. In SP, where the phrase ‘ladkon se galti ho jaati’ hai (boys make mistakes) dictates major social policies, his presence was not entirely out of place. Looking at Agarwal’s previous misadventures, this maverick politician does not seem like an ideal pick by a party that runs the country.
- Mocking Hindu Gods: “Whiskey mein Vishnu aur Rum mein Shri Ram” was Agarwal’s brightest moment as an SP MLA, reflecting a his rogue mindset. He, however, expressed regret for his remarks later. Moreover, Agarwal was lucky for the statement was made in the Upper House of Parliament, thus negating the chance of any criminal proceedings.
- Abusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Calling Modi ‘Teli’, or a person from a backward class, just a few weeks before joining the BJP, Agarwal demeaned the Prime Minister for his caste. After backlash from a section of the audience, he defended his ill-conceived statement, saying that the public was pointing to the PM’s caste and he was merely echoing their thoughts. Quite a dramatic shift from that event to today, when he was embraced by the party.
- Calling Kulbhushan Jadhav A Terrorist: While the nation was distraught after the dreadful treatment meted out to the family of Jadhav during their visit to Pakistan, Agarwal found his thoughts aligned with those in Pakistan. “If Pakistan has considered Jadhav a terrorist, they will then treat him accordingly.” The statement did not go down well with anyone having an iota of common sense, especially with the BJP leaders, who are now welcoming him to the party.
- Elitist Slurs: For Agarwal, elitist slurs come naturally. In 2013, before Modi was elected to be the prime minister of the country, Agarwal insulted his tea-seller credentials, drawing an analogy between a constable and then Gujarat chief minister Modi. “If you make a sipahi (constable) a kaptan (Superintendent of Police), he can never have the approach of an SP but will always work like a constable,” he remarked. Clearly, the joke was on him.
- Questioning Credentials Of Muslim Women In The Rajya Sabha: Agarwal, exceeding his own dull-witted expectations, questioned the credentials of Muslim women in the Rajya Sabha during a discussion on the Triple Talaq bill. “These women could be from BJP’s Mahila Morcha,” Agarwal remarked, upon being asked about the women present in the Parliament. He went on to add that BJP could never do anything good for women, particularly those belonging to Islam. This time, the joke was on the entire SP.
- Demeaning Women: While insulting women comes naturally to the party Agarwal previously belonged to, he chose a derogatory term for women to define BJP in the run-up to the national elections of 2014. More recently, he attacked Jaya Bachchan, calling her unworthy of a Rajya Sabha nomination.
While some supporters may be attributing this embrace to the electoral maths and weakening of SP with the next general elections just around the corner, one wishes BJP had better filters when it came to admitting elements from other political parties.
This also raises questions about what BJP stands for? From what is evident, the party seems to be fine with anything and everything that can potentially improve its electoral fortunes.
And amidst all the chaos, where is the opposition?