The sedition case registered against Aam Aadmi Party member Sanjay Singh by the Uttar Pradesh police in Yogi Adityanath’s state may come as a surprise, but if you look at how the Bharatiya Janata Party starts fighting its election way ahead of others, you’ll find method to the sedition madness.
It has to do with who chief minister Yogi Adityanath fears the most in UP. It’s not Akhilesh Yadav, Priyanka Gandhi or Mayawati.
Mayawati is no longer the feisty leader she used to be and is hardly a threat to the BJP. Akhilesh Yadav is in his peaceful and inactive mode. Ajay Kumar Lallu is trying to break Gandhi’s record of the number of times one can be detained by the police. None of them bothers Yogi Adityanath.
It is the new entrant in UP politics — the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — that has become the BJP’s new foe. Not the sleepy elephant or the slow cycle, the AAP has too little to lose in the state and hence is the loudest.
The AAP is turning up the heat on the alleged ‘Brahmin murders’ in the state. It is a party whose modus operandi in UP is yet not known. The sedition case against Sanjay Singh shows that Yogi Adityanath is keeping an eye on the party.
Sedition charges on a caste survey
Sanjay Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP and AAP’s UP in-charge, has been on a spree of visits to the state, and in almost all his video appearances, he thunders against Yogi Adityanath. On 1 September, the UP police filed an FIR against him under various sections of the IPC for a survey he had been involved in. The result, Singh claimed, showed that 63 per cent of the participants considered the Yogi government to be ‘casteist’ and ‘Thakurvadi’. Now, a sedition charge has been added to the same FIR against Singh.
However, do recall that in 2017 the BJP made similar allegations against the Akhilesh Yadav government of hiring only Yadavs in the state police. The BJP had also carried out a caste survey. In the 2017 assembly election, it helped the BJP garner support and turn voters against the Samajwadi Party.
Sudden entry of AAP
Several people have accused the Yogi government of helping UP’s Thakurs and targeting Brahmins, Yadavs and Dalits. Bhaskar Dubey, national spokesperson of the Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Ekta Parishad, alleged that the UP police had killed 84 Brahmins in ‘encounters’ since the killing of Kanpur gangster Vikas Dubey.
This kind of news is hardly helping the BJP’s caste calculus in the state.
At the same time, the sudden and unprecedented entry of the AAP has created further problems for the BJP. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party is eyeing the state’s assembly election in 2022.
The AAP is known to be a formidable opposition party. It uses similar tactics as the BJP — confrontational politics, aggressive statements and an IT cell onslaught on social media to establish an issue and then go full monty on the opposition. The party can match BJP’s ‘Jai Shri Ram’ with its own ‘Jai Hanuman’. The AAP’s success in the Delhi assembly election earlier this year has reignited its ambition to be a national party.
The BJP knows what it needs to do now in the heartland state of UP.
The 2007 episode
Yogi Adityanath has, however, forgotten when he broke down in Parliament in 2007 and asked the Speaker for protection against police brutality. Under the Mulayam Singh government, Yogi, then a Lok Sabha MP, was taken into custody for violating prohibitory orders. But this time, Yogi has conveniently forgotten that Sanjay Singh is also an MP and has the right to oppose a state government.
The more worrying part is that the AAP is undertaking the same politics as other parties in the state— one based on caste. Hindu religion and caste politics have been the arena of the BJP — it doesn’t want to cede this ground, not to the AAP, at least. The sedition charge against Sanjay Singh will clearly be seen as a warning.
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