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Editorial |

It was telling that the very editions which splashed the Prime Minister’s call for restrained comment from BJP workers should also carry reports of controversial utterances from a member of the ministerial council, and a party MP.

Now it might require an ace detective to determine if Mr Narendra Modi’s exhortation not to provide the media with masala was made before or after Santosh Gangwar and Bharat Singh let their tongues wag, the larger point highlights the difficulties that will be encountered by the BJP leadership should it try to enforce the Prime Ministerial directive ~ which BJP critics insist is a gag order to ensure that only Mr Modi’s voice is heard.

To be fair, Mr Modi did not accuse the media of “twisted/slanted” reports, but in his hi-tech address to the party he cautioned against the damage caused to the party by its array of loudmouths.

“It may sound bitter, but it is important for me to say this. Sometimes our workers criticise media, but we have to think if we committed mistakes and gave ***masala*** to the media… We consider ourselves experts and intelligent, so we tend to give comments whenever we see cameras… If everyone keeps commenting on the issue… it will damage the nation. It also affects our image…. Don’t blame the media, they are doing their work. You don’t need to stand before TV cameras and guide the nation.”

Coming days will test if Mr Modi’s words carry weight. For the rank and file who believe that winning elections is a “no holds barred” affair have made sustained bids at attacking all those who do not subscribe to a saffron agenda.

The theory of divide-and-rule has now been given a skewed veneer of polarisation. BJP activists also believe that their stock rises when deprecating others. Though Mr Modi insists that his plank is development, that is not the image the party projects of itself.

Minister Gangwar’s slamming of “brouhaha” over a plethora of rapes adds to the misogynistic image the BJP has created for itself by trying to underplay/ignore shortcomings in governance.

The argument advanced by the MP from Ballia, Bharat Singh, that conversion-obsessed Christian missionaries were dictating the Congress’ agenda is another example of the BJP’s intolerance of minorities.

And of late BJP leaders have been challenging universally accepted scientific theories and history ~ all of which invite ad egree of ridicule since they try to project “modernity” as having Hindu origins.

No need to labour the point about the conflation of Muslim and Pakistani: or the advice about to where beef-eaters should re-locate. As much on test as the effectiveness of the leadership in keeping loudmouths in check after Mr Modi’s order, will be the sincerity of his intentions.