Kapil Mishra on the move, amidst MP fire, BJP keeps him at hand but at arm’s distance

The BJP on Tuesday distanced itself from party leader Kapil Mishra who is in the eye of a storm after attending a Ram Navami gathering in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district on April 10, about 40 km from Khargone town where communal violence broke out the same day. The state police have also confirmed to the party that the Mishra was not present at the site of the violence.

In his speech in Bhikangaon, Mishra referred to Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, who was killed in Kashmir in 2016, saying, “Jiss ghar se Burhan niklega, uss ghar mein ghus kar maarenge (We will enter the homes where Burhans are born, and beat them up).”

The BJP leader also said Hindus should unite lest they meet the fate of Kashmiri Hindus as portrayed in The Kashmir Files movie.

Responding to news reports that labelled his speech controversial, Mishra on Tuesday said he had only spoken about Hindu unity and against terrorists. “What is provocative in my speech? My speech caused riots 50 km away? Blame Kapil Mishra for anything but not the real culprits? Those throwing bombs, stones are innocent, and those celebrating Ram Navami are to blame?”

The BJP leader, who was associated with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its formation and even served as a minister in the Delhi government, has been on a tour of a few states since March-end. On March 31, he spoke in the city of Jabalpur about supporting The Kashmir Files. He is scheduled to be in Ahmedabad on Monday and Tuesday to have an “open dialogue on Ram Navami, Hindu Jan Jagran and Love Jihad”. He also plans to visit Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Jamshedpur.

“He is there for his own programmes. Neither does Kapil Mishra hold any official post in the party nor is he there to attend a BJP event. The party has nothing to do with his programmes in Madhya Pradesh,” said a senior BJP leader familiar with developments in the party’s state unit.

Refusing to make an official statement on the matter, the BJP functionary added, “The party does not want to recognise him as a significant figure by making an official statement.”

A senior party MP pointed out that the BJP had distanced itself from Mishra’s statements earlier too. “People like Mishra have never worked within the discipline of the BJP. He acts on his own. But it is true that he also has followers in the BJP in every state and they keep inviting him for programmes. But they are not the BJP’s official programmes and we cannot stop him either.”

A source in the Madhya Pradesh government said the police had informed the BJP leadership that Mishra was not present in the town during the violence. “He was away and was not present at the site. This is what the police have informed the government authorities,” the source added.

No stranger to controversies, Mishra, who joined the BJP in 2019, was questioned by the police in connection with the northeast Delhi riots in 2020. A day before the riots erupted, killing 53 people, Mishra led a rally during which he warned the police that people supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) would take to the streets if the police failed to remove demonstrators in the area protesting against the amended law. He issued the ultimatum — and posted the video on Twitter — even as a senior police officer stood nearby. Even then, the BJP had disapproved of Mishra’s remarks.

With Congress leader Digvijaya Singh asking the authorities if they had investigated Mishra for his speech, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, a senior leader from Madhya Pradesh, told The Indian Express, “Kapil Mishra was attending a function organised by a social outfit, Siyaram, in connection with Ram Navami and the event went on till late night. It was not a programme of the BJP. But Mishra said he was not present at the spot where the clashes happened. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh is trying to divert the attention as Congress workers were involved in the violence.”

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