Controversial Union minister and BJP leader Niranjan Jyoti does not qualify to be described as a sadhvi after the use of unacceptable language during a rally in the capital. There was nothing saintly about her speech and it is not the first time that she has resorted to abuse while trying to make her point. Her election pitch that the fight was going to be between Ramzadas and Haramzadas (Children of Lord Rama and illegitimate offspring) has not only embarrassed the saner elements in her own party, but has contributed to a logjam in Parliament where Opposition parties devoid of an agenda have seized the opportunity to have a shot at both Narendra Modi and the saffron brigade.
Modi on his part has tried to defuse the crisis by appealing to senior members urging them to forgive the inexperienced and first time MP for her remarks, following her regret. But Opposition leaders are insisting that she should be sacked in case the government expects any cooperation. The BJP on its part has decided to give a green signal to the minister to continue her campaign for the Assembly polls due in Delhi in February.
Niranjan Jyoti appears to have been encouraged by the fact that many others including a few in her party have got away after making hate speeches. Some of her ministerial colleagues, while attacking political adversaries, have used the kind of political idiom which has no place in the dictionary of civil society and its conduct. She has crossed the red line and unless she is reprimanded, she may do so again.
It is for her party leaders to rein her in and give her lessons in how to observe a code of conduct expected from anyone who makes a public discourse, particularly a minister.
Jyoti, along with Uma Bharti and Rithambhara, was among the three women described as sadhvis, who did their religious or socio political apprenticeship under Swami Parmanand Giri at his Mawal Dham in Fatehpur Ashram. Giri was later also the vice president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Marg Darshak Mandal and was instrumental in sending his three protégés to the BJP when the Ram Janambhoomi movement was at its peak. The three had excelled in spewing venom and making incendiary speeches that stirred the emotions of the audiences. Rithambhara is facing charges at several places. Uma Bharti, who started off as a very powerful orator, later graduated to become one of the two mass leaders produced by the second generation of the BJP. The other was Narendra Modi.
However, Uma Bharti, who also led her party to victory in the 2003 Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, ending the ten-year Congress rule of Digvijaya Singh, became a victim of politics within her own party. She was provoked into reacting at an important meeting, which, for some reasons, had TV cameras inside the venue and disciplinary proceedings were initiated against her. She was sacked as the Chief Minister and spent a considerable time in political exile before returning to active politics. She has mellowed quite considerably and is a Cabinet minister in the Modi government, though she has lost a lot of her sheen.
Niranjan Jyoti, the least known amongst the trio, was the most fiery amongst them when it came to making divisive speeches to stir up communal passions. She remained in oblivion for many years during which she lost twice. However, she was victorious in the 2012 Assembly polls from Hamirpur and was given the ticket to contest from Fatehpur in the Lok Sabha polls, which she easily won. She needs to understand that if the Prime Minister has entrusted her with governmental responsibility, she has to learn to conduct herself with dignity and decorum within the framework of the Indian Constitution. The form of speech she has used must not put her party in any kind of embarrassment. Agreed, there have been others who have used unacceptable language during campaign. The most glaring example was that of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi describing Modi as maut ka saudagar (merchant of death) during Assembly polls in Gujarat. It was very uncharacteristic that a leader of the largest political party should have used this kind of language. The people paid her back by ensuring that the Congress lost those polls. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi too shocked everyone when he tore the copy of an ordinance approved by the Union Cabinet at a press conference last year. Rahul's action was condemned by civil society and many top political leaders.
Coming back to Niranjan Jyoti's hate speech, she must realise that she has made a huge mistake and therefore, must correct herself. The bigger picture is that religion and politics should not be allowed to mix.
There can be no justification to do so. Everyone must accept that religion and politics make a deadly cocktail and its hangover lasts for a long time. Between us.