Letter to The Election Commission of India

The CEC,
Election Commission of India

Subject: Blatantly communal hate speech by BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari

We are sure that you have noted the communal hate speech by BJP’s candidate from the Nandigram constituency of West Bengal, Suvendu Adhikari, which has been widely reported in the media.

Adhikari has been calling his opponent Mamata Banerjee “begum” in a series of speeches, implying that she is Muslim, as though a Hindu who does not hate Muslims is undeserving of getting votes.

But he has crossed all limits while addressing a public meeting in Nandigram on March 29, 2021. He said:

“If begum comes back to power, the state will turn into a mini Pakistan. Mamata regularly says ‘Eid Mubarak’, it has become a habit of hers. So much so that, on the occasion of Dol (the spring festival in Bengal, usually preceding Holi), she wished everyone ‘Holi Mubarak’. ... They have created a small Pakistan in various gram panchayats. If Pakistan wins a cricket match, they burst crackers, distribute sweets and eat meat. Do you want to hand over Nandigram to them…think about it.” Here, he is spreading hate against widely used Urdu-origin words, like “Mubarak”, and fear-mongering that a victory for his opponent will mean that Muslims will take over and turn W Bengal into “mini Pakistan”. Associating Indian Muslims with Pakistan and claiming (falsely) that they cheer for Pakistan in cricket matches is one of the most common ways of instigating hate and violence against the Muslim minority.

He further named several Muslim leaders from his rival party the TMC, to instigate hate. Referring to TMC leader Sheikh Sufiyan, he said “If Madam wins from here, she will be gone soon. You all have go to Sufian’s house for paperwork. Is it safe for women to go to Sufian’s house? Is it safe for anyone?” It is blatantly communal to imply that a political leader poses a threat to women because he is Muslim.

In his speech on March 7, 2021, Adhikari had again used Urdu-laced words to imply that his rival should not get votes because she is close to Muslims, and to term Muslims as “infiltrators”: “No one accepts you as Bengal’s daughter here. You are the ‘phuphu’ (the word for paternal aunt used primarily by Muslims) of infiltrators and the ‘khala’ (the word for maternal aunt used primarily by Muslims) of the Rohingya.” His attempt to garner votes by spreading hatred against Rohingya refugees is also obvious here.

We demand that the ECI immediately act against this open display of hate speech. If the ECI fails to do so, it is giving the message that it approves of communal hate speech. History will never forgive any complicity by the custodians of India’s electoral democracy, with such hate speech.

Kavita Krishnan,
for the CPIML Central Committee