28 November, 2020

Act II: Hawks Have Landed

POTA is now law, thanks to a rarely-used strategem by the BJP. But it's still up to the states whether to use it or not.

Jitender Gupta
Act II: Hawks Have Landed
"Advaniji ka gala kharaab ho gaya hai, aur mera dimaag. Kuchch to kal ho gaya tha... [Advaniji's throat is sore and so is my head. Partly because of (the joint session of Parliament) yesterday...]"

—Prime Minister Vajpayee, referring to his fit of anger during the joint Parliament session on POTA.

The BJP's spin doctors have been projecting the transmutation of POTO into POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) at the controversial joint session of Parliament last week as a big political victory for the party, the forces of Hindutva and the war on terrorism. The prime minister losing his cool with Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi in Parliament is being viewed as a carefully orchestrated effort—by belittling her and her objections to POTA, he was playing to saffron sentiments.

That the BJP has been trying to find a substitute for Ayodhya in POTA was evident at its November 2001 Amritsar national executive itself. A day after POTA became law, the PM called for a shift away from "stagnant" Hindutva. Whether the fight against terrorism can provide new focus for...


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