BSP MP Kunwar Danish Ali, who endured abuse on the floor of Parliament on September 21, has disclosed that he has been receiving death threats over the phone and has been targeted by a dedicated smear campaign sponsored by the right wing. “I was verbally lynched on the floor of the House, and now people are being incited to physically harm me,” Ali told Frontline. “The BJP IT cell is doing its job. It is threatening me in an attempt to demoralise me from speaking out against this hate speech,” Ali alleged.
During the “special” session of Lok Sabha from September 18 to 22, Ali was verbally abused by BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, who hurled communal remarks at him. A video of the incident, which ironically occurred during a discussion on the success of India’s Chandrayaan-3 moon mission, quickly went viral on social media, sparking outrage across the country.
Despite Ali’s declaration that he would resign from the Lok Sabha if action was not taken against Bidhuri, Speaker Om Birla has not taken any action against the MP yet, nor has Bidhuri apologised for the incident.
Bidhuri is not new to controversy. In 2015, he faced a complaint from five women Lok Sabha MPs, citing his “abusive and sexist” language in the Lok Sabha. In 2019, his abusive remarks against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also stirred controversy. Bidhuri, however, remained unapologetic and asserted that he would repeat his actions “again and again”.
The opposition has criticised the BJP for assigning election responsibilities to Bidhuri shortly after he faced backlash for abusing Ali. Bidhuri, a three-term MLA from Tughlakabad in Delhi and a two-term MP, has been an active BJP worker for over three decades and has been assigned poll duty in Rajasthan’s Tonk district.
For Ali, this incident is not his first encounter with religious discrimination. He remarked, “Muslims have been subjected to this kind of hate speech and discrimination on many occasions in this country. But now it is happening to an elected representative, inside Parliament, which is shocking.”
Ali has received support from people from various walks of life, including university students, political leaders, advocates, and social activists. Unfortunately, he says, “the MPs of the ruling party are coming out in Bidhuri’s defence and trying to create a false narrative about me to tarnish my image by claiming that I had provoked him. I challenge them to present evidence if they have any.”
“While it is true that I am a vocal parliamentarian, my upbringing did not allow me to respond to Bidhuri’s filth... I didn’t even want to repeat the abuses he had used to maintain the sanctity of the temple of democracy, the parliament.” Furthermore, he expressed concern that his response might be taken out of context to create a false narrative.
Ali asserts that the BJP aims to establish a Hindu Rashtra, where Muslims will constantly be “put in their place”, abused on the streets, and even within Parliament. During his tenure, Ali has raised the issue of a law against hate speeches twice. He questioned, “The Supreme Court has already stated that there should be a law. Why hasn’t that law been enacted?” Ali reiterated that he wants Bidhuri to be expelled as an MP, and the case to be handed over to the police for investigation. “An example should be set,” he said.
Rahul expresses solidarity
Born and raised in a modest farmer household in Hapur, Ali pursued a degree in Mathematics honours at Jamia Millia Islamia. He has been actively involved in student politics as a member of the student wing of the Janata Dal, Chhatra Janata Dal (Student Janata Dal). With double MA degrees, he became the founding general secretary of the Janata Dal (Secular).
Ali joined the Bahujan Samaj Party in March 2019 after leaving the Janata Dal (Secular). However, he appears dissatisfied with how the BSP has handled his issue. While BSP supremo Mayawati addressed the issue on social media, neither a personal letter was sent to Ali nor did anyone from the party visit him.
On the other hand, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited Ali and expressed solidarity, leading to speculation that Ali might be joining the Congress. Ali dismissed these claims, stating, “Every political leader has his or her own style of functioning.” He praised Rahul Gandhi as a sensitive and good person who stood in solidarity with him during his visit.