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Gauri Lankesh Stood For Rationality—The Same Can’t Be Said About Many Protesting Her Death

Political motivations seem to be overriding a genuine demand for justice.

08/09/2017 2:06 PM IST | Updated 08/09/2017 2:21 PM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

When senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead in Bengaluru, it didn't take long for the Congress to try and gain political mileage out of the tragedy, with Rahul Gandhi claiming that anyone who opposes BJP-RSS ideology is "pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed." Now, any rational mind would be aghast at the political immaturity reflected in this statement. It is yet again an example of the Congress's time-tested formula of blaming the BJP and RSS for crimes that have not even been properly investigated yet.

But facts seem to pale in comparison to rhetoric, and Rahul Gandhi's statements played into the narrative adopted by certain media outlets. Predictable headlines quickly cropped up such as this one by a national TV channel, which framed the murder as "BJP -virodhi patrakar ki hatya (killing of a BJP-opposed journalist)."

The murder has become yet another trigger for an ideological showdown, and rationality has become the casualty...

The murder has become yet another trigger for an ideological showdown, and rationality has become the casualty—which is ironic given that Lankesh was a journalist who was staunchly committed to rational thinking. The other irony is that in most protests against the murder across the country, the BJP and RSS were the targets of ire even though the murder took place in a Congress-ruled state. Not much is being said about the law and order problem under the government. Meanwhile, the Karnataka government organised a state funeral for the slain journalist—an unprecedented move which to me appears to be an attempt to appease certain sections of the electorate and to deflect questions about its own accountability.

This, of course, is not new. The Congress (and Rahul Gandhi) have for years now been highly invested in creating a narrative of an "intolerant India," grabbing any opportunity they could—whether it was the unfortunate suicide of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad or the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri. Isolated incidents such as these were woven into a larger story of an India under siege—something which, as we have seen in subsequent elections, has not curried favour with the masses.

The problem is that the "intolerant India" narrative just cannot stick. Ultimately, facts must prevail. Yes, Lankesh opposed the BJP and RSS, but does it necessarily follow that they or those associated with them are responsible for her murder? Without a shred of evidence?

The BJP and the RSS do not in any shape or form endorse violence—if anything, political violence seems to be the particular province of the left, such as in the case of Kerala. When there is an ideological battle, we believe in fighting with ideas, not weapons. Killing an adversary is futile as such an action (apart from being morally wrong) leaves the ideology untouched.

What was also shocking was to see the demonstration organised by the Press Club of India to protest against the killing of Lankesh. Things like objectivity, facts, evidence were disregarded as politicians belonging to a particular ideological category took to the stage to condemn Modi, the BJP, RSS. There was not a single word of condemnation for the Congress which has been in power in the state. This reflected the mindlessness of the protestors. But who cares that rationality has become the casualty?

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