Yoga guru Ramdev claims to have an odd relationship with the Indian Constitution and the law. At a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh rally in Rohtak on Sunday, the godman explained what he would have happily done if the constitution and the law didn't exist: Cut the heads off of those who refuse to say Bharat Mata ki Jai.
"Some person wears a cap and stands up. He says I will not say Bharat Mata ki Jai, even if you decapitate me. This country has a law, otherwise let alone one, we can behead lakhs. But we respect this country’s law," Ramdev said at the rally, according to the Indian Express.
"If somebody stands up and speaks like this, that gives strength to hooligans. We respect this country’s law and Constitution, otherwise if anybody disrespects Bharat Mata, we have the capability of beheading not one but thousands and lakhs."— Baba Ramdev
Look at that statement again carefully. Ramdev, well known for his flexibility, has managed some truly exceptional verbal calisthenics.
First he brought up someone wearing a topi, making a rather unsubtle reference to political leader Asaduddin Owaisi (who did Muslims no favours in furthering this debate over Bharat Mata ki Jai).
Then he claims to respect this country's laws. How does he show that respect? By insisting that, without laws, he would have overseen the massacre of "thousands and lakhs." Finally, he claims that it is the people who stand up and speak like this – i.e. refuse to say Bharat Mata ki Jai – are the ones giving strength to hooligans.
That's right. Playing with the same sort of fire that the Owaisis dabble with – and which the Hindu Right constantly laments – Ramdev has managed to be communal, subtly threaten mass violence and insist on true respect for the Indian legal system, all while speaking at a Sadbhavna ("goodwill") rally. Oh, and he insists that the ones not saying something are encouraging violence, not the ones threatening to behead lakhs. Pointing out all the rather scary ironies of these statements almost seems redundant.
The most troubling part, though, may be what followed.
Still, some on Twitter had a better idea of what exactly is going on.