When it comes to Sambit Patra’s nightly performances on television news, nothing should shock us. After all, this is the guy who has used words like “kathmulla” to address his Muslim opponent on a debate.
It appears that the Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson is determined to cement his position as the most obnoxious TV troll. Or at least his recent outing on Aaj Tak’s Dangal debate suggests so. The context was the recent rechristening of Allahabad as Prayagraj and Faizabad as Ayodhya. Patra began the debate by exaggerating the achievements of the BJP government. So far, so good.
But somewhere by halftime, Patra began to speak of why Hindus could no longer be oppressed by Muslims when anchor Rohit Sardana asked him if the BJP’s real aim is to make a “Muslim-Mukt Bharat”. “Jahan tak musalmaano ko target karne ka swaal hai … kabhi Hindu ne muslamaan kya, kisi ko bhi target nahin kiya. Usi ka nateeja hai ki aap dekhiye Hindustan main humaare musalmaan bhai acche se phale-phoole hain … aur aaj 20 se 25 pratishit sankhya unki bani hai … 2 pratishit se 25 pratishit pahunche hain Hindustan main … toh kaun target kar raha hai? [Hindus have never targeted Muslims. This is the reason why Muslims have flourished in the country. Their population has increased from 2 to 25 per cent].”
Patra didn’t stop there. “Ek baat aap sun lijiye aur samajh lijiye … yeh Hindu ka khoon paani nahin hota hai ke koi bhi shaasak aayega aur bolega ‘chalo yaar iska pehle naam badalte hain’ … you cannot take us for granted … koi bhi aya Mathura ka naam Islampur kar do … Karnavati ka naam Ahmedabad kardo … yeh sab pehle test tha … ki agar is par kisi prakaar ka oppostion nahin hota hai … toh phir dharam parivartan karenge … uske baad inko daman karke rakhenge.”
For those who don’t understand Hindi, Patra went full Viraat Hindu on viewers, stating that the Hindu blood is not water, and that Hindus had been oppressed for centuries, and that invaders first changed the names of cities to test the waters to then convert Hindus and then oppress them and then oppress them some more.
At this point, Syed Asim Waqar, national spokesperson of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen, asked Patra why the party changed the name of Ekana International Stadium to Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Cricket Stadium. Clearly, the BJP was setting no historical wrong right by renaming the stadium named after Lord Vishnu.
To this Patra first said that Vajpayee’s status was that of a god for the BJP and then began heckling Waqar, and asked him if he was an Allah Bhakt or a Vishnu Bhakt. “Aap Allah ke bhakt ho ya Vishnu ke bhakt ho?” he asked. When Waqar said he believed in Allah but also respected Hinduism, Patra asked him to keep quiet or else he would rename a mosque after Lord Vishnu’s name. “Kisi masjid ka naam main rakh dunga bhagwaan Vishnu ke naam pe, phir chillate rahoge.”
To this, a visibly upset Waqar said: Tumhaari himmat nahin hai miyan…tum battameez insaan ho. [You don’t have the guts, you are ill-mannered].”
“Chinta mat karo … hum Vishnu ke bhakt hain bhaiyya … chhodne waale nahin hain,” Patra then said. It’s really not clear what he meant by “chhodne waale nahin hain” but given that this is Patra, one can safely assume the worst. Recently, BJP supporters and members had rightly called out Divya Spandana, who handles the Congress party’s social media and digital communications, for her “bird dropping” tweet on the PM. It won’t hurt if the party looked within and assessed its own contribution to the cheapening of political discourse in India and Patra’s colossal contribution to that.
To witness this cringe-worthy exchange, watch 23:48 onwards.