The BJP distances itself

Yesterday I learned that the BJP has distanced itself from Sangeet Som’s remarks on the Taj Mahal. That is nice. Firm and decisive. Just like always.

Back in May 2015, a row erupted when Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi commented that those who want to eat beef should go to Pakistan or some Arab country. Kiren Rijiju, his Cabinet colleague, said no restrictions can be placed on what you eat.

Party president Amit Shah distanced the BJP from both views — which begs the question somewhat: What then is the BJP’s official position on beef if it is distanced equally from “can eat” and “cannot eat”? That it is okay to chew but not swallow, in emulation of Bill Clinton’s ‘I did not inhale’ formulation on smoking dope?

A random list of all the statements the BJP has distanced itself from since its return to power:

March 2014: BJP distances itself from ‘Har Har Modi’ slogan

July 2014: BJP distances itself from Telangana BJP leader’s remark on Sania Mirza

July 2014: BJP distances itself from remarks of Haryana minister OP Dhankar on farmers

September 2014: BJP distances itself from Subramanian Swamy’s remarks on Sri Lanka

October 2014: BJP distances itself from Maneka Gandhi’s effusive letter to J Jayalalitha

December 2014: BJP distances itself from ‘love jihad’ campaign

December 2014: BJP distances itself from forced religious conversions

December 2014: Embarrassed BJP distances itself from Sakshi Maharaj calling Godse a patriot

January 2015: BJP distances itself from Sakshi Maharaj’s comments on Hindu women

March 2015: BJP distances itself from Subramanian Swamy’s remarks on mosques

April 2015: BJP distances itself from VK Singh’s “presstitutes” remark

May 2015: BJP distances itself from Rijiju, Naqvi remarks on beef-eating

May 2015: BJP distances itself from Subramanian Swamy’s remarks on Jayalalitha’s disproportionate assets

September 2015: BJP distances itself from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on reservations

October 2015: BJP distances itself from ML Khattar’s remarks on beef

November 2015: BJP distances itself from Adityanath, Vijayvargiya, Sadhvi Prachi et al

December 2015: BJP distances itself from Subramanian Swamy’s statement on GST

February 2016: BJP distances itself from MP Gopal Shetty’s remark that it is fashionable for farmers to commit suicide

May 2016: BJP distances itself from Subramanian Swamy’s remarks on Raghuram Rajan

June 2016: BJP distances itself from Subramanaian Swamy’s remarks on Arvind Subramanian

September 2016: BJP distances itself from man running a sex racket in Madhya Pradesh

January 2017: BJP distances itself from Vinay Katiyar’s remarks on Priyanka Gandhi

January 2017: BJP distances itself from Anil Vij’s remarks on Mahatma Gandhi

January 2017: BJP distances itself from Sakshi Maharaj’s comments about Muslims

February 2017: BJP distances itself from Subramanian Swamy’s remarks on Tamil Nadu governor

April 2017: BJP distances itself from Yuva Morcha activist announcing bounty on Mamta Bannerjee’s head

April 2017: BJP distances itself from MLA Vijay Bansal’s remarks on Ambedkar

April 2017: BJP distances itself from Subramanian Swamy’s remarks on beef ban in Goa

August 2017: BJP distances itself from Delhi visit of ministers from its ally PDP on Article 35A

August 2017: The BJP distances itself from Sakshi Maharaj’s comments on Ram Rahim

Okay, I will stop here. Not because there are no more examples, but because the results of a “BJP distances itself” search on Google threatens to become book-sized.

It all started with a friend I met for a coffee this morning, who in context of a chat on the BJP’s stance on various issues reminded me of the Taj Mahal row. “Don’t make a thing of it yaar,  Som and his ilk are the lunatic fringe,” he told me.

It occurred to me that I had heard that bit about the “fringe” before. More than once. And so I went looking in my Evernote — tag ‘batshit statements’. And lo.

A random scroll through the results shows that the BJP resembles nothing so much as a pinball, ricocheting frenetically as it “distances itself” from one crazy position and then another.

In one instance — see the entry for November 2015 — the BJP distanced itself from Kailash Vijayvarghiya, who presumably is “fringe”. But then, in August this year, it was Vijayvarghiya distancing the BJP from Sakshi Maharaj. How do you unpack that?

Or take Subramanian Swamy. The BJP has — as a quick glance at the list above should show you — distanced itself from him on so many issues and in so many directions in just over three years, it is a wonder Swamy and the party find themselves inhabiting the same planet.

The BJP’s “fringe” is getting to be like the late Bollywood actress Sadhana’s trademark hairdo — so much of “fringe” that it is pretty much all anyone sees. And remembers.

 

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