On 19 July, Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, caused a stir in the upper house. Azad said thatthe recent spate of lynchings in the country was “not religious,” but was the “[Sangh] Parivar’s battle against everybody.” “In all the cases of lynching now, someone or the other belonging to the ruling party and the Sangh Parivar is involved,” Azad said. He further alleged that “there was an understanding” between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the central government, to allow such lynchings to continue.
Azad’s comments were made at the beginning of a discussion that continued in the house for two days. Arun Jaitley, the finance minister, said that it was unfair to characterise the lynchings with political colour. “Violence cannot be a partisan issue,” Jaitley asserted. All the perpetrators of such crimes are in jail, he claimed. “They will be prosecuted and serve their punishments.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, recently disavowed lynchings in the name of cow-protection. On 29 June, in an address delivered at the Gandhi ashram in Sabarmati in Gujarat, Modi said: “Killing people in the name of gaubhakti”—cow-devotion—“is not acceptable. This is not something Mahatma Gandhi would approve of.” However, the prime minister added, “No one spoke about protecting cows more than Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Yes. It should be done.”