Of Generals, Dogs And Politics
By Oliver D'Souza
10 November, 2015
There is no doubt that General V K Singh's use of the word ‘dogs’ in connection with the death of two Dalit children in Haryana is reprehensible, even a crime under the SC/ST Atrocities Act. Being a Union Minister and a former Army Chief, a lot of sensibilities and civilities are expected of him.
What is even more shocking is how a person whose credentials include being a former Army Chief could be so wanton, reckless and uncircumspect in using such language. Surely, this is not something he has done during his tenure in the army and risen to head it. If he had, he would have been court-martialled. Moreover, if that was the kind of essential genus he was made of, even without such open indsicretion, he would not have made the grade to become a General.
So what went wrong with the General and how did he metamorphose from an officer and a gentleman to someone who referred to Dalits as dogs and ended up having a FIR registered against himself?
The politicians and leaders of the BJP-RSS combine which runs the country are characterised by, among others, three major anomalies which have caused consonant despicable conduct from them. One is disrespect and disregard for people as exhibited in their regular use of prohibitive language against the minorities, political opponents and proponents of secularism. Those indulging in it include, among others, Giriraj Singh, Sadhvi Prachi, Yogi Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj and even the party President Amit Shah.
The second anomaly is the casteist ethos of the members of BJP-RSS combine. The most recent exhibition of caste bias came from RSS chief Bhagwat who publicly asked for a review of reservation to appease the upper castes. His view came from the ideology that BJP-RSS combine subscribes to namely, Hindutva, in which Dalit-Bahujans have no equal place in society. With Bihar elections in view, the BJP and RSS may have vigorously sought to distance itself from Bhagwat’s statement, but it has not convinced anyone about the saffron family's hidden and at times overt views on reservation, the plight of the dalit-Bahujans and the caste system.
The third is the arrogance exhibited by senior leaders of the BJP. The most recent blatant exhibition of this arrogance was seen when the Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, in connection with the ongoing campaign against intolerance, said ‘We ministers are capable of silencing them. If such people come to us we will throw them out.’ Any sane and level-headed leader would have never said this. Instead, he would have sought to address the issue at hand, rather than arrogantly defend what is globally seen as a indefensible campaign of intolerance in India, all of it perpetrated by the various organizations of the RSS, including the BJP.
Many other senior leaders of the BJP have also been arrogant, insulting and defiant in their responses to social, religious, political and personal freedom issues. Such arrogance has been displayed by BJP MPs even in Parliament, while dealing with the opposition, while dealing with the Nehru-Gandhi family and also the developmental schemes of the past Congress governments.
None of those indulging in these three types of incivility have seriously been censured for it, giving the impression that the party itself does not take a dim view of such conduct.
It is into such a political party made up of members practising a perverse mix of power-fuelled arrogance, casteism and disrespect that VK Singh jumped into as a post retirement vocation.
There is the adage ‘the company you keep determines the kind of person you become.’ Apparently, the General has imbibed these anomalies from the company that he is keeping. General Singh has been impacted by the ethos, morality, language and world-view of the party that he joined. In referring to the Dalit children as dogs, he has spoken the language of the leaders and members of the BJP-RSS combine and not that of a General.
Coming from a highly disciplined organization (Army) that does not put up with any insensibility, incivility and inequality among its rank and file, VK Singh ought to have imparted these qualities to members of the BJP-RSS combine who badly need a huge infusion of these qualities. Instead, it is the undesirable qualities of leaders and members of the combine that have rubbed off onto the General.
It is precisely such and other types of corruption of sane, sensible people who join politics that dissuades educated and civilized folk from entering into politics, lest they become like the stereotyped politician bereft of civility and sensibility.
There is only so much of incivility, arrogance and casteism that you can get away with, even if you are part of the government. After the Bihar election debacle Arun Jaitley has called for BJP politicans to refrain from intemperate language, indicating that it is intemperate allegories, taunts and insults hurled by Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi against the opposition that, among other factors, contributed to the humiliating defeat for the BJP. Perhaps members of the RSS-BJP combine will learn from the defeat and change their ways. Or else, the Bihar election is likely to be repeated over and over for the BJP and the General could find himself out of a job.
Oliver D’Souza is a journalist, author and human rights activist. His book ‘Truth About Dalits’ won the LISA ‘Book of The Year’.