BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri – who last week hurled Islamophobic abuses and vile slurs at Bahujan Samaj Party lawmaker Kunwar Danish Ali – has been tasked with leading the party’s poll campaign in Rajasthan’s Tonk, an appointment denounced by a furious opposition as “reward for hate”.
Mr Bidhuri is from the Gurjar community and the BJP is banking on him to swing votes in the district’s four seats, one of which is held by Congress leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. Mr Pilot’s Tonk seat has historically alternated between the two parties; in 2013 it was won by the BJP’s Ajit Singh Mehta. The last time it retained a MLA was the BJP’s Mahaveer Prasad in 1993.
On Wednesday Mr Bidhuri attended a meeting in Jaipur chaired by the BJP’s state boss, CP Joshi.
राजस्थान प्रदेश भाजपा कार्यालय जयपुर में ज़िला टोंक की समन्वय बैठक में प्रदेश अध्यक्ष श्री @cpjoshiBJP जी द्वारा संगठनात्मक कार्यों व चुनाव की तैयारियों के साथ सेवा सप्ताह के कार्यक्रमों सहित आगामी कार्यकर्ताओं के प्रवास योजनाओं की जानकारी लेते हुए। pic.twitter.com/wK63ctXR6X
— Ramesh Bidhuri (@rameshbidhuri) September 27, 2023
Speaking to String Reveals a day after the abuse, Mr Ali said he had been left traumatised and shaken.
“Was this special session called to attack elected MPs by linking them to their community? This has shamed the entire country. We will see whether his party will take action or promote him,” he had said.
READ |“Considering Leaving Parliament If…”: Danish Ali On BJP MP’s Remarks
Mr Bidhuri’s deployment has been criticised by the opposition, with independent Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal accusing the BJP of having “rewarded” Ramesh Bidhuri for his shocking outburst in Parliament.
“BJP rewards ‘hate’. Bidhuri rewarded for attacking Danish Ali (with) unspeakable words he used in the Special Session of Parliament. Made BJP in-charge of Tonk District in Rajasthan,” Mr Sibal said.
He pointed out that Muslims account for nearly 30 per cent of Tonk’s population and posted on X, “(The appointment of Ramesh Bidhuri) symbolises ‘hate’ for political dividends.”
Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra also responded, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi on her X post and asking the PM “is this your Sneha Yatra (‘love outreach’) for minorities?”
READ |“Reward For Hate”: Opposition On New Poll Duty For BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri
A distraught Mr Ali on Tuesday released footage (from Parliament) of that day, in which he is responding angrily to Mr Bidhuri’s outburst. The clip was released to counter BJP lawmakers’ claims the communal slurs flung at him were because of casteist slurs against Prime Minister Modi.
In the 33-second clip shared on X (formerly Twitter), a furious Mr Ali is seen and heard defending himself after Ramesh Bidhuri’s “abuses and extreme provocation”.
READ |“How Can This Be Allowed?” Danish Ali Releases Video After BJP MP’s Attack
“What (is he) saying? Can any terrorist enter into this House? He must apologise… yeh kya hain? How can he be allowed to say this?” he demands of the Congress who was the temporary Chair.
“… I didn’t utter a single word that could harm the sanctity of the temple of democracy. Even I didn’t repeat what Ramesh Bidhuri said about me and my community…” Mr Ali wrote on X.
Despite the abuses and extreme provocation, I didn’t utter a single word that could harm the sanctity of the temple of democracy. Even I didn’t repeat what Mr @rameshbidhuri said about me and my community. Inspite of it @BJP4India is trying it’s best to create a false narrative. pic.twitter.com/yApQ6w1vJR
— Kunwar Danish Ali (@KDanishAli) September 26, 2023
Mr Bidhuri has not yet commented on this row; he has only said the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who warned him of “strict action” if he repeats such behaviour, will rule on the matter.
READ | “No Comments, Speaker Will…”: Ramesh Bidhuri On Abusing MP In Parliament
The opposition has attacked the BJP over lack of disciplinary action against Mr Bidhuri, who has so far only been served a show-cause notice. He met party boss JP Nadda in Delhi this week but details of the meeting were not released and it is unclear if the BJP plans to sanction him at all.
READ | BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri Meets JP Nadda After Party Serves Notice For Slurs
Mr Bidhuri has considerable influence among his community and the BJP appears focused now on planning and prepping for the Rajasthan Assembly election due later this year.
On Monday Danish Ali questioned delay in action against Ramesh Bidhuri and said he feared the vulgar comments were part of a plan by the BJP to “build a new narrative” against Muslims in India.
READ | “Creating Narrative For My Lynching”: MP Danish Ali On BJP Leader’s Letter
On the Nadda-Bidhuri meeting he said, “If they would have been sincere in taking action, why would they be calling him… what proof do they need, everything is on record…”