BJP's hardcore supporters are angry with the party — it's all for Raja Singh

Raja Singh's suspension from the BJP has not gone down well with several young supporters of the party, who see his communal grandstanding and hate mongering as the true reflection of what the BJP stands for.
Suspended BJP MLA Raja Singh
Suspended BJP MLA Raja Singh
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BJP's staunchest ideological supporters in Telangana are angry with the TRS-led state government for arresting MLA Raja Singh under the Preventive Detention (PD) Act. But they are angrier still, with their own party. Raja Singh's suspension from the BJP has not gone down well with several young supporters of the party, who see his communal grandstanding and hate mongering as the true reflection of what the BJP stands for. 

Over the past week, parts of Hyderabad had witnessed communal tensions in connection with a video uploaded by Raja Singh on his YouTube channel, in which he was seen making objectionable remarks against Prophet Mohammed. The video was later taken down by YouTube. Eventually, it was only after he was arrested by the city police on August 23, released on bail by a local court on the same day, and arrested again two days later and sent to the Cherlapally jail on August 25 that the protests finally settled down. 

But Raja Singh’s arrest and the TRS government’s invoking of the PD Act, meant to keep habitual and notorious offenders locked in jail for a period of up to one year, was not what surprised BJP’s ardent young followers. Rather, it was the BJP issuing a suspension order against the MLA, along with a show cause notice, that came as a shock to them. Soon enough, a section of Hindu rightwing came out with the allegation that Raja Singh was being victimised by the party as well, all for firmly standing by the Hindutva ideology. Using the hashtag #ISupportRajaSingh, a simultaneous social media narrative to this effect is also being built.

Raja Singh, who belongs to a migrant family of the backward Lodh caste in Hyderabad's Goshamahal area, had started off his political career as a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Corporator. Known for his association with Hindu fundamentalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal, he has had up to 101 cases registered against him since 2004, around 18 of which are communal offences according to the Hyderabad police. With the numbers clearly suggesting that his political career is a cocktail of communal vigour and crime, it comes as no surprise that Raja Singh draws most of his supporters from youngsters who are attracted by his frequent communal rants and taunts aimed at Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslmeen (AIMIM).  

According to Murali Yadav, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), many karyakartas feel that the party has put itself above [Hindu] ‘dharma’. “It is clear that [Raja Singh] would not tolerate it if someone hurts our sentiments. The party should have supported him. But instead he was given a suspension order,” he said. “It can be understood that the TRS wants to silence him. But the party’s decision to suspend him indicates that he is being treated unfairly,” said a hardcore BJP supporter.

Some sympathisers of the suspended BJP leader have turned to social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook to express their outpour of support, while accusing the TRS and its working president KT Rama Rao of ‘conspiring’ to invite standup comedian Munawar Faruqui to Hyderabad. Raja Singh had earlier threatened to burn down the venue if Munawar was allowed to perform in Hyderabad, but the show was conducted anyway, leading to the series of events that has culminated to this point.

However, BJP has apparently decided not to give undue importance to the resentment by Raja Singh's sympathisers, since the MLA’s behaviour was likely to have politically cost the party. “The decision to suspend Raja Singh was taken to make one thing clear — that no one should cross the party line and everyone has to abide by the party's constitution. A few people can't set the agenda for the party, which has over 18 crore members,” said NV Subhash, Telangana BJP spokesperson.

Meanwhile, a viral but unverified WhatsApp message, claimed to have been shared among supporters by a BJYM district level functionary, claimed that the BJP would only benefit from Raja Singh's suspension. “Though Raja Singh was given show cause notices and suspended, the party is taking care of his security. He is not tied down to the party’s ideologies anymore and is a free bird. If he stays out, it will only benefit the party... Don't find fault with the party's decision. If we think properly, we will understand that the BJP does only what is required,” the message reads.

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