UP politicians on both sides of the political and religious spectrum are known to toy with laws on hate speeches.
The ink is hardly dry on the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that no politician can seek votes in the name of religion, caste or creed, and the model code of conduct is also in place with the announcement of election dates in five states, as Sakshi Maharaj, a serial offender in stirring the communal pot in Uttar Pradesh, jumped the gun with a hate speech blaming a particular community for India’s rising population. While an FIR was promptly registered and complaints lodged with the Election Commission, as we have seen in the past little may come from all this. UP politicians on both sides of the political and religious spectrum are known to toy with laws on hate speeches.
The member of Parliament may not have said what he did at an election meeting, but he nevertheless flouted all principles of fair public comment on sensitive matters, particularly on religion, with such communally-charged statements in election-bound UP. He is probably aware that he can get away with an admonition or a fine, that has been the standard practice all along. However, now the situation may be different after the Supreme Court verdict on not mixing religion with politics for electoral gains. Unless the authorities act quickly on this, we can only expect more such salvoes from other parties and leaders in the fray. Only by taking a stern stand against offenders like this and by clamping down on hate speeches in public can an effective warning be sounded as the polls near.