Gauri Lankesh had been a trenchant critic of the RSS/BJP. That, for the Left-liberals, was reason enough to fling the allegation
The Left-liberal sections of society, who are also the self-proclaimed protectors of secularism and free speech, must be squirming in discomfort over the recent arrest of a personal assistant of a Congress Member of the Legislative Council from Karnataka, in connection with the murder of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh. The accused, Rajesh Bangara, had also served in the Karnataka Government’s Department of Public Instruction. He is the tenth person to be nabbed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the crime.
The ‘pattern theory’ was, not surprisingly, endorsed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which thinks nothing of physically eliminating RSS/BJP workers in Left-ruled Kerala
But why is this an embarrassment for the Left-liberals? Within hours of Gauri Lankesh being gunned down outside her home in Bangalore ten months ago, these people had accused the Right — not the fringe, which incidentally exists in every socio-political ideological space, but the mainstream organizations. The logic? Gauri Lankesh had been a trenchant critic of the RSS/BJP. That, for the Left-liberals, was reason enough to fling the allegation. Not one arrest had been made then; not even the probe had fully begun. And yet the murder was politicised. The Congress MLC assistant’s arrest does not fit into the Left-liberal theory.
The Congress was in the forefront of the attack. Sonia Gandhi, hinting at the mainstream Right which ruled the country, said: “It’s an extremely sad moment for our democracy and a chilling reminder of the fact that intolerance and bigotry are raising its head in our society.” She was taking forward the ‘intolerance prevails in the Modi regime’ argument.
Rahul Gandhi was more direct. He claimed: “Anyone who speaks against the BJP is silenced. The point is that the entire ideology is to silence voices.” Thus, according to him, the BJP had silenced Gauri Lankesh. He was engaging in a kind of irresponsible statements that have come to characterize his politics.
Others in the party expanded on the theme. Abhishek Manu Singhvi saw a “definite pattern in the murder of rationalists and free-thinkers and those who question the Government — Dabholkar, Pansare, and Kalburgi, and now Gauri Lankesh”. The ‘pattern theory’ was, not surprisingly, endorsed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which thinks nothing of physically eliminating RSS/BJP workers in Left-ruled Kerala. The CPI (M) claimed that the voices thus far silenced were “vociferous in their opposition to the perpetrators of the communal agenda by the Right-wing Hindutva forces”.
Reports were also leaked to the media that Indrajit’s remarks need not be taken seriously because he and Gauri Lankesh had been embroiled in a family dispute
The exercise to invoke the RSS-BJP ideology in the murder without a shred of evidence was bad enough; worse was to drag in the Hindu faith. Words such as ‘obscurantism’ and ‘superstition’ were displayed as if they formed the core of Hinduism/Hindutva. It didn’t matter to the critics that both the BJP and the RSS had denounced the murder and demanded of the Karnataka regime — then of the Congress — to book the culprits at the earliest. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had, for instance, categorically said that neither the BJP nor the RSS, nor “any of our organizations”, were linked to the killing. He termed the Congress’s outburst as a “lie” and challenged the party to substantiate the accusation — a challenge which went uncontested.
What are the facts of the case as we know them today? One, a total of ten persons have been taken into custody. Two, not one of them is connected with either the RSS or the BJP. Three, the first accused to be nabbed, Naveen Kumar, claimed that he had some links with the Sri Ram Sene. Four, the Sene is a fringe, radical group which has got nothing to do with the RSS-BJP. Five, four other persons arrested are being probed for their connection in the murder of another rationalist. Six, there is talk that some of the people apprehended may have links with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dhabolkar in Pune, Maharashtra.
While the investigations are on, there are allegations that the SIT, in its eagerness to deliver results, has rounded up innocents. There was also conflict among members of Gauri Lankesh’s family on the tragic incident. Her brother Indrajit Lankesh sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, saying that the Karnataka Government had failed to crack an earlier case of a murder of the rationalist, MM Kalburgi. He added that there had been “no threats” as far as the family knew, to Gauri Lankesh’s life.
His stand threatened to derail the Left-liberal narrative. Soon, other members of the family who had by then been besieged by the secularists adopted a contrary position and expressed satisfaction over the formation of the SIT. Reports were also leaked to the media that Indrajit’s remarks need not be taken seriously because he and Gauri Lankesh had been embroiled in a family dispute. But whatever means the anti-Right adopted, it could not sustain the allegation of RSS/BJP involvement in the murder.
Now, neither these people nor the infamous ‘award wapsi’ brigade can do much. Whatever accusations they could level, they already have. The matter is now before the courts and evidence, not politically-motivated slander, will matter. Meanwhile, the ‘intolerance-and-bigotry’ argument against the incumbent Government at the Centre hasn’t worked with the people — neither in Karnataka where the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the last Assembly election nor elsewhere in the country where the Congress and the Left have been steadily losing ground.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.