Congress MLA Harish Dhami is angry with his party High Command for ignoring senior legislators like him in the appointment of state unit office-bearers. That is his prerogative. He has added to the allegations being made by party members that the rout in the recent assembly election was because of factionalism and the incompetent leadership of out-of-state appointees, particularly Devendra Yadav. Dhami has crossed the line, however, by stating repeatedly in comments made to the media that the elections were lost because Devendra is a Yadav, a ‘community that is reviled by Uttarakhandis’ because of the rapes at Rampur Tiraha and other atrocities inflicted during the statehood agitation. This is blatant hate speech that blames an entire caste for the actions of individuals.
With this, Dhami has not only violated the oath he has taken as an MLA to uphold the Constitution, but also opened himself to prosecution for promoting hatred among communities. He claims to be the son of an ex-serviceman but has betrayed the ‘fauji’ culture under which there is no discrimination on the basis of caste, community or creed. The Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha and the courts should suo moto take cognizance of this breach of the code of conduct and initiate required action.
The Congress Party, too, should waste no time in taking remedial steps, not just to protect the dignity of the party official thus denigrated, but also to defend its political culture from degrading further. (Although it does seem par for the course if one is to go by the collective slur against ‘Modis’ by Rahul Gandhi, for which, last heard, he is facing legal action.)
Uttarakhand prides itself on its relatively more sophisticated culture and politics as compared to most other states. However, that a many time MLA should deem it fit to make such an allegation does raise questions about what is acceptable among the local people. It must not be forgotten that disrespectful generalities exist regarding all communities, which become the source of prejudice and misbehaviour they have to face in other parts of the country. Society is trying to eliminate this mentality and political leaders should be among those fighting the practice, not succumbing to it. It will be a failure of the political establishment and civil society if this remark is allowed to pass unopposed. Voices must be raised strongly in protest.