Journalism begins with the accurate reporting of facts. Speak truth to power is our second principle. In the Lakhimpur Kheri tragedy, our journalism illustrates the good as well as the bad. Conflicting video images make it difficult to discern the truth. Nonetheless, it is straightforward to fix the narrative. We will wait until the investigation is complete before we begin creating a narrative around the findings, not governed by ideology or prejudice and as often occurs by fear of the consequences from going against the flow. It has yet to be violated the second principle: speaking truth to power. Politicians, journalists, and activists should all adhere to this principle.
Both the Opposition and the Congress (the Samajwadi Party, the Trinamool Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, among others) are certainly not speaking truth to power. In their view, Lakhimpur Kheri is a topic of conversation ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election of 2022. Thus, even before the investigation under the direction of a retired high court judge begins, they have assumed the role of judge and jury. Additionally, the leadership and supporters of the BJP have both failed to measure up. Several party members, MPs, and supporters have maintained silence following the silence of the prime minister and the home minister.
Cool judgment is the key to good leadership. Reactions, however, are common. In the absence of evidence, it is a poor argument to say law and order is a state matter. In response to the horrendous post-poll violence in West Bengal, the BJP’s top leaders in silence and inaction were used as justification for their silence. In response to the crime, leaders of the party stayed silent. However, the central government was not prevented from taking appropriate measures. However, the silence was not a valid excuse. In West Bengal, that empowers thugs disguised as Trinamool Party members; in Uttar Pradesh, it emboldens workers from Samajwadi Party.
BJP high command retreating into silence is nothing new. The incident occurred during the demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Shaheen Bagh. Khalistani elements that have infiltrated the farmers’ protests perpetrated more violence after the toolkit-driven one. Legislators are as weak as lawbreakers when they remain silent. Politicians believe the government can surmount these incidents. However, the public does not have long memories. There are still 30 months to the next Lok Sabha election.
Only four months remain until the crucial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Yogi Adityanath will be put on the defensive by the Congress-led Opposition over incidents such as Lakhimpur Kheri. The party’s leaders have been gleefully observing that the top leadership of the central government has failed to provide him with any moral or verbal support during this incident.
Others in the party have also been quiet. Most people are too frightened to say anything out of fear of offending the top leadership. They prefer to remain silent. Can we speak the truth to power? That’s risky: Personal interests usually take precedence over national interests.
Lakhimpur Kheri is the subject of media attacks targeting Modi. Reports on the mob of allegedly farmers lynching BJP workers are routinely ignored by the media. The BJP’s top leaders don’t speak about this atrocity. Why should it? Trinamool Congress hooligans continue to torch BJP cadres without being reported by the national media. The central and party leadership have shown no visible concern here, as well.
Because of fragmentation and incompetence, the Opposition today presents an opportunity for the BJP. With his hard Left turn, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will be entangled in a political rut. The small Tripura and Goa where Mamata Banerjee tries to expand Trinamool’s base remain parochial. Her reputation has been tarnished by political violence in West Bengal.
According to Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, he’d prefer not to be in the badlands of UP. The most he could manage was courting arrest in Lakhimpur Kheri. He wasn’t detained for an extended period by local officials due to the lack of importance attributed to it. While it can rely indefinitely on the Opposition’s infirmities, caste arithmetic, or polarization to win elections, the BJP cannot, indefinitely, do the same to the BJP.
Recent months have seen several important government reforms. However, the government needs to enable party members. They must be encouraged to voice their opinions. We ought to encourage constructive criticism. A sycophantic attitude is not acceptable. Modi’s cult is the last thing India needs. In his own right, Modi has no inflated ego. It does not interest him to obtain power except for whatever it can enable him to accomplish for India, I can reveal, and I will not break confidential conversations. Now, what he needs to do is to empower his ministers, MPs, and campaign workers to speak truth to power. Even though truth can hurt sometimes.
In Lakhimpur, The Opposition Fights For Chandigarh?
An unfortunate series of killings that has left eight people dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district has raised political temperatures in the election-bound state. Opposition leaders are now rushing to meet the families of deceased farmers, while the government in Uttar Pradesh obstructed them as much as it could, citing law and order concerns before granting them conditional permission.
A few party leaders from the Congress party were detained at Hargaon as they arrived at Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday. An arrest video of Priyanka Gandhi sweeping the floor of the Sitapur guesthouse went viral shortly afterward. The government finally allowed Priyanka to visit Lakhimpur. After initially resisting, Rahul Gandhi and the chief ministers of Punjab and Chhattisgarh met with the grieving families.
Experts have attributed the Congress’ aggressive stance over the Sunday incident to their belief that the grand old party could see revival in UP, while others believe that it is linked to the Punjab Assembly polls, which are due early next year. Similarly, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of Delhi has made noises over the unfortunate incident as well. BJP leader Arvind Kejriwal claims a group of his party members, including MLA Sanjay Singh and Punjab vice president Raghav Chadha, were arrested Tuesday while trying to reach Lakhimpur Kheri. PTI reports that the arrest was not confirmed by the authorities.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have refused to make any meaningful statements regarding the incident in contrast to the Congress, AAP, and to some extent the TMC’s aggressive protests. The police prohibited SP chief Akhilesh Yadav from traveling to Lakhimpur Kheri outside his Lucknow residence on Monday.
Mr. Ashish Mishra, accused of mowing down the farmers under his vehicle, is the son of two-time MP and Brahmin Ajay Mishra. A total of 12% of the UP population is from this community, which is among the biggest voting blocs in the state. Mishra may have fallen victim to a conspiracy, but without any proof, there is a segment of the community prepared to annul his conviction.
Moreover, the incident occurs in the runup to the state polls at a time when political parties are aggressively courting Brahmin voters. BSPs have previously been backed by the community and have enjoyed success. In contrast, the SP is keen to see community votes shared by the BJP and the BSP. As Lucknow remains a distant dream for Congress, winning back Punjab remains its top priority. The way they handled Lakhimpur Kheri within 48 hours of the incident is not less than political redemption for the Yogi Adityanath government after they received flak for their handling of the fatal gang-rape and Sonbhadra shootout cases in Uttar Pradesh.