The response to the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh was “farcical”, said Mumbai BJP spokesperson and author Tuhin Sinha on Saturday. Sinha was attending a session, titled “The Political Landscape: Boon or Bane?”, at the Pune International Literary Festival 2017, which was also attended by Congress national spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe, mediapersons Uday Mahurkar and Rishi Suri. “The response to the murder of Gauri Lankesh is so farcical. It is play acted. At some point, the government has to hit back and say this is not the way,” said Sinha.
Responding to Sinha’s comments on the murder of Lankesh and the protest that followed, Chaturvedi said that terming the protest as farcical was “unfortunate” on part of the ruling party. “The Congress party hears everyone out politely even if we don’t agree. But unfortunately you don’t. We think this is where the discussion stops. Also deciding that something is farcical, terming any protest which does not sound like your idea as that, is unfortunate. This is a democracy. There will be dissent. Live with it. It happens in a democracy, even if you don’t agree with the idea,” she responded.
Alleging that “we have seen reduction of democracy” in last few years, Chaturvedi said the space for dissent and discussion had reduced. “Look at foreign media coverage of events here. It talks about atrocities and minorities issues. Protesters are called anti-national…which should be essence of democracy,” added Chaturvedi.
The two spokespersons engaged in a war of words over the protests and social media reactions to Lankesh’s murder. Defending his statement, Sinha said, “When I talked about farcical reactions to the death of Gauri Lankesh, what I meant was Rahul Gandhi coming on TV and saying that RSS is involved. Your CM (Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah) announced Rs 10 lakh for information on Lankesh’s murderers. He should give it to Rahul Gandhi.”
Expressing condemnation over the journalist’s murder, Sena leader Neelam Gorhe said the debates around the murder and the protests that followed appears to be a “conspiracy to not allow real investigation to go forward into the murder inquiry”.
Speaking about the political discourse in the country, Sinha said that intellectual and fact-based debate had taken a back seat. “Television anchors shut you up in 10 secs, they don’t allow you to speak in debates. It reflects our society where we have become intolerant to different views, not willing to discuss and debate,” said Sinha. Talking about intolerance debate, Gorhe, whose party is in alliance with the BJP and yet disagrees on many major issues, said sometimes it can get frustrating. “The issue of cows, who should eat or not eat what kind of food… frustrated us,” he said.