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Synchronised attack of BJP CMs on PM security breach is a disturbing escalation of intemperate rhetoric

🔴 The PM’s security is an issue that concerns all, across the political divide. Regardless of who wins or loses in Punjab or elsewhere, that is also how it needs to be addressed.

Supreme Court, Prime Minister’s security breach, Modi security breach,, PM security breach, Punjab, Punjab government, Indian express, Opinion, Editorial, Current AffairsThe PM’s security is an issue that concerns all, across the political divide. Regardless of who wins or loses in Punjab or elsewhere, that is also how it needs to be addressed.

The breach in the Prime Minister’s security in Punjab on January 5 was grave. As this newspaper reported, in the run-up to the PM’s visit, several letters were sent out to police officials on the field warning against disruption by protesters and urging them to make arrangements. The Supreme Court has set up a five-member committee headed by a former SC judge to probe the incident, observing that the matter cannot be left to “one-sided inquiries”. At the same time, the court has also called out the “blame game” and “war of words” between the Centre and the state government — they stand in the way of a “robust mechanism to respond at such a critical juncture”. In other words, instead of political point-scoring and grandstanding, what is needed is the sober pursuit of answers to serious questions about the breach, and what needs to be done to avoid a repeat. But the court’s wise counsel may have fallen on ears that didn’t hear. On Wednesday, at least six BJP chief ministers, almost in concert, came out to accuse the Congress and its government in Punjab of a “pre-planned, well-orchestrated conspiracy”, two of them alleged the involvement of “Khalistanis”, one even called for the arrest of the Punjab CM.

So far, the BJP has used party forums to accuse the Congress and its government of deliberately putting the PM in harm’s way in Punjab. Even though senior BJP ministers at the Centre have echoed the allegations, the apparently synchronised attack of the BJP chief ministers is a disturbing escalation of intemperate rhetoric. As the ruling party at the Centre and in several states, the BJP needs to pause, and take stock. For one, as the court has pointed out, it is obscuring due process — by rushing to pronounce guilt, it is pre-empting a free and fair probe. Then, the accusation itself represents a new breakdown in a public discourse that is not always known to abide by standards of mutual civility or respect. After all, to accuse your political opponent of a conspiracy to do physical harm, to do so at the level of instant rhetoric, is to lead the political conversation into a very dark dead end. By invoking spectres of “Khalistan”, BJP chief ministers are sending yet another disturbing signal — that the party which tried and failed to discredit the farmers’ movement in Punjab is still looking for labels to tar and taint the state.

Alongwith other states, Punjab is going to polls in a few weeks, and it may be that calculations of electoral gain lie behind the BJP’s apocalyptic rhetoric. But there are enough issues to take up in a state that is battling crises on many fronts and where the ruling party is visibly divided within. The PM’s security is an issue that concerns all, across the political divide. Regardless of who wins or loses in Punjab or elsewhere, that is also how it needs to be addressed. The CMs, by echoing each other’s conspiracy allegations, may be loyal party workers but as heads of their state governments, they diminish themselves. Maybe the SC panel should call them just in case they can shed some light besides their heat.

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on January 14, 2022 under the title ‘6 CMs, 1 conspiracy’.

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First published on: 14-01-2022 at 03:03:15 am
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