You too, Jayant Sinha?

Union minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh meeting the convicted cow vigilantes in Nawada prison in Bihar is not news. As the adage in journalism goes, dog bites man is not news. But what has set the newsroom on fire is the Harvard Business School graduate and soft-spoken and suave former Minister of State of Finance Jayant Sinha felicitating the eight convicted cow vigilantes who were part of a mob that lynched a fifty-five-year-old Muslim trader in Ramgarh on June last year. The convicts were released on bail and were brought to the minister’s house in Hazaribagh where Jayant Sinha played host to them. The photo of the minister garlanding the convicts had gone viral.

Jayant Sinha is no ordinary politician who is used to move around with lathi-wielding cronies in the back lanes of his constituency. He is believed to be a more reluctant entrant into politics.

Sinha’s illustrious career experience includes twelve years with McKinsey & Company as a partner in their Boston and Delhi offices. At McKinsey, Sinha was the leader of their global Software and IT Services department. He was also a partner at Omidyar Network (ON) a self-styled “philanthropic investment firm,” consisting of a foundation and an impact investment firm established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. It is reported to have doled out more than $992 million to non-profit organizations and commercial establishments across multiple investment areas. Jayant Sinha, the man who felicitated the convicted lynch mob, led ON’s overall investment strategy and operations in India. He also spent several years as a Managing Director at Courage Capital, a global special situations hedge fund.

What made the Union minister Jayant Sinha celebrate the “heroism” of goons convicted of hacking to death cattle trader Alimuddin Ansari last June in Hazaribagh?

Why should Jayant Sinha, who holds an M.B.A. with Distinction from the Harvard Business School, an M.S. in Energy Management & Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Technology degree with Distinction from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, do something that puts him in the dock?

Jayant Sinha represents Hazaribagh and the dastardly killing took place in his constituency. One would have expected him to denounce the killers, seek the strictest of the punishment for them and see to it that the killers are not granted bail for their whole jail term. No. None of that. They were garlanded and served a hot cup of tea with biscuits, even before they went to their respective houses for further celebrations.

Party insiders feel that the state unit of the BJP is too small a unit to dictate terms to a tall person like Jayant Sinha. In any case, he was parachuted into the constituency straight from the cool comforts of his Boston office to nurture his father’s constituency. Never in his life had he seen the dusty lanes and stinking villages of this god-forsaken Bihar town.

It is only on the instructions of the central unit of the party that such an audacious act could be committed, albeit, reluctantly, by this Harvard graduate.

So the party high command has decided to let the Harvard graduate’s father know that it is rabid Hindutwa that will ensure continuity in the BJP not hobnobbing with liberals. Jayant Sinha has had to shed his liberal clean pressed shirt in order to don the blood-soaked saffron kurta so that he is able to march to victory in the coming 2019 parliamentary election.

2019 elections will be tough for the BJP, more so in Bihar where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has jumped on to the fence well in advance. He is keeping the BJP president Amit Shah guessing on seat-sharing formula. His faithful followers are not going to be offered on a platter to the BJP. So what will be BJP’s strategy other than deep polarisation on religious grounds? A Hindu victim card is the best bet for them. In such a scenario people like Jayant Sinha can take a back seat, go back to their Boston office or alternatively wear the saffron kurta and pat cow vigilantes on the back.

Jayant Sinha seems to have learned the tricks of the trade. Or, has he been ‘disciplined’ by the party boss who is a veteran in the game of ‘social polarising’?

Either way, Mr Jayant Sinha, you have lost.



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