Shiv Sena MPs resorted to hooliganism when they ganged up against a canteen manager of the Maharashtra Sadan for allegedly not providing quality food. One of the MP Rajan Vichare was caught on camera force-feeding a roti to a staff member. Unfortunately the person who faced the onslaught from the Shiv Sena MP was a Muslim. He was on a Ramzan fast and was forced to break it.
It is indeed sickening the way our elected representatives resort to brute force at the slightest of provocations. But the way the incident has been painted with communal hues raises the question: does the Opposition really have a plan apart from attacking the government on communalism?
It is unclear whether Arshad Zubair had a name tag pinned on his shirt. Even if he had a name tag it is highly unlikely that the rampaging MPs checked it before targeting the canteen manager.
The issue here is the feeling of entitlement which our elected representatives develop: a kind of superiority complex due to which they feel they deserve better than the common man. But to frame it as a secular-communal issue is playing with fire. Not only does it obfuscate the real issue on hand, but also gives a sinister twist to a law and order problem which ultimately ends up helping nobody.
Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Manish Tewari accusing the Shiv Sena MPs of majoritarianism and hurting sentiments of people of a particular community is clearly an overreaction to the incident.
This strategy of castigating BJP and its allies as communal on every issue has been played for a very long time by opposition parties . It has become so jaded that now the word secularism has lost its relevance to a large section of the population, specially to the youth. The issue failed to yield any dividend in the elections but the opposition parties are still sticking to it.
So in effect, the opposition is unwilling to learn its lesson from defeat. The habit of treating every issue through the prism of secularism forced Jairam Ramesh to find the proposal of joining rivers a step to promote Hindutva. Yoga is now a fad among Westerners but if any BJP state government tries to implement it, an accusation of communal agenda.
The Opposition has diluted the meaning and weight of both secularism and communalism through this strategy. Communalism is a problem which should be dealt with firmly, but just repeating it ad nauseam is unlikely to solve any problems. There are several issues on which the Opposition can instead attack the Narendra Modi-led NDA government and expose its double speak.