The age of social media means we are perpetually in the midst of "what about" wars.
Upset about mata ki jagran over loudspeakers? What about the daily azaan? Or as Sonu Nigam said when he was still on Twitter "It is not about Azaan or Aarti. It's about Loudspeaker."
Actually with due respect to Nigam, these days it's about Loud Tweets.
Memories are as long as timelines. And it's easy to mine anyone's timeline to find examples of selective outrage. That's been used most often to damn liberals these days because they are the voices of dissent.
Nayantara Sehgal speaks up on X, where was she when Y happened. That's the most common refrain in the selective outrage Twitter fight.
Frankly, as humans we are all guilty of selective outrage. We care more about some things more than others. None of us, not even an Arundhati Roy, can be perpetual outrage machines.
The BJP's office bearers should understand that. Of course no one in the party officially sanctions lynching by gau rakshaks. They are just somehow unable to tweet about it even as they tweet about everything else. For example, about cow slaughter.
Narendra Modi took eight days to break his silence about the lynching in Dadri and that in a roundabout way without an outright condemnation.
AltNews has analysed the Twitter timelines of 100 most active BJP MPs/MLAs/spokespersons to find out who condemned the brutal cow slaughter by Kerala Youth Congress members.
They had a lot to say.
Swapan Dasgupta called the "slaughter of a cow by Congress activists in Kerala grotesque & insensate".
Maheish Giri called it "Shameful work by Kerala Congress workers" which showed "their contempt for sentiments of 100 crore Hindus".
Sidharth Nath Singh said "Level to which Congress can go in opposing an issue has been expressed by slaughtering a cow in Kerala & still no remorse."
Ashwini Upadhyay, spokesperson BJP-Delhi called the INC Indian Noxious Congress and said "@INCIndia leader butchered cow to oppose @narendramodi government & @OfficeOfRG is mum".
Actually Rahul Gandhi for once reacted quickly and strongly to the Kerala cow killing calling it "barbaric and completely unacceptable". What did Upadhyay have to tweet about the lynching of Pehlu Khan in ALwar by gau-rakshaks?
Zilch according to AltNews. In fact according to their analysis none of these eminences had anything to say about what happened in Alwar. In most cases those who spoke up did so after being badgered by the media about their silence.
The Congress is not in power. The BJP is. Thus what the BJP says or does not say acquires greater import now because it is read as the stance of the ruling party.
Narendra Modi took eight days to break his silence about the lynching in Dadri and that in a roundabout way without an outright condemnation. "The country has to stay united, only communal harmony and brotherhood will take the nation forward. People should ignore controversial statements made by politicians, as they are doing so for political gains," he said at an election rally.
Vasundhara Raje took about three weeks to condemn the lynching in Alwar which happened in her own state. Within hours of the attacks in Stockholm, 5,600 km away, Raje tweeted "My heart goes out to victims of #Stockholm terror attacks. We stand with the people of #Sweden in this difficult time. #UniteAgainstTerror."
After the recent attack at the concert in Manchester she tweeted "Strongly condemn the despicable attack in Manchester. My heart goes out to the families of innocent victims."
Pehlu Khan, the dairy farmer's family in her home state did not merit the same public display of anguish.
It is not fair to use Twitter as a sole metric of anguish or concern. Silence cannot be construed necessarily as support. Raje says her government has moved quickly to make arrests in the Pehlu Khan case. But those who are so quick to accuse others of selective outrage based on their tweets, should also be held to the same standard. That's only fair.
Those who ask "Where are Barkha Dutt, Aamir Khan and Rajdeep Sardesai? Do they have anything to say on Dhulagarh riot?" for instance should also be prepared to be asked "Where are YOU on Alwar and Dadri? Do you have anything to say on that?" What goes around comes around.
There is one other point worth noting. The Congress is not in power. The BJP is. Thus what the BJP says or does not say acquires greater import now because it is read as the stance of the ruling party. It carries more official weight because it can actually translate into policy instead of being hot air and handwringing. The opposition can express anguish about minorities but it can do little. It is the government's job to reassure any minority that its rights are just as safe in India as any other community's rights. The ruling party naturally has more power. An AMU can at most decide on canteen timings within its own campus during Ramadan but a state can shut down all slaughterhouses in the whole city during Paryushan or Ganesh Chaturthi. When Yogi Adityanath was just another hotheaded leader in Uttar Pradesh his utterances made for good TRPs but little else. Now his visit to the makeshift Ram Temple acquires more significance because he is the chief minister.
That's the difference.
The brutal killing of that cow was senseless and reprehensible. But when the voluble leaders of the BJP fill Twitter with such anguish about the slaughter of a cow, their silence about the slaughter of human beings, at the hands of gau rakshaks becomes, to borrow Mr Dasgupta's own words, "grotesque and insensate".
People who live in glasshouses should really not be tweeting stones.
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