By: KK Kak
This is with reference to your “Grappling with Mahishasur: When ideology dominates perpetual confrontation is inevitable” in The Times of India, March 2, 2016 (http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/bloody-mary/grappling-with-mahishasur-when-ideology-dominates-perpetual-confrontation-is-inevitable/). Several of your arguments can be viewed very differently. Take, for instance, your reference to 'the histrionics laden politically divisive speech' of Smriti Irani. Seriously, were the speeches of Jyotiraditya Scindia or Sitaram Yechury (in Parliament) or of Rahul Gandhi (outside Parliament) any less histrionics laden or divisive? Ms Irani (probably due to her acting background) is a more compelling speaker, and is also a minister, which is why she got more coverage. But, in terms of content, she was no more divisive than the others. And what was so divisive about her speech anyway -- the reference to all the Opposition MPs who had asked her for ministerial favours? Or the reference to Mahishasur -- how come that is divisive when Ms Irani says it but not when JNU students put up posters about it? Even the liberals who condemned her comment ended up taking two opposed stands -- one lot called it blasphemy while the other lot said it was freedom of speech by JNU students so why did the minister fuss about it. Even in condemnation they could not be consistent.
The Government may appear to be in constant fighting mode, but the question is whether the fights are of its own making or whether the fights are being forced on it. The very day the Lok Sabha election results came out, the left liberal lobby picked its first fight -- insisting that the NDA had won only 9% of the votes and therefore did not have a real mandate. Interestingly, when the Mahagathbandhan won the Bihar state elections with about the same -- 41% -- votes, the left liberals had no problem at all -- they called it a thumping mandate! The UPA ruled India for two terms with less than 39% votes but that was no problem either. The left liberals want to pick a fight only with Modi and his government, and they do.
Just as they picked another fight over 5 `attacks’ on churches in Delhi (240 attacks on temples during the same period were ignored). And another fight over the rape of a nun in Bengal -- the Bengal minorities minister went to the extent of blaming the rape on ghar wapsi. Until the rapist turned out to be from his own community and a Bangladeshi to boot, whereupon he promptly fell silent, as did all the other `secular’ liberals. Then there was another fight about 'rising intolerance' -- in TV debates, every time government spokespersons tried to quote data to show that communal violence had not risen, they were shouted down by the left liberal panelists, often with the support of the moderators. The left liberals, of course, quoted no data themselves!
From Dadri to Vemula to JNU, the Government is in fighting mode, as you say -- but are the fights started by the 'liberals' or by the Government? Your selection of incidents is itself instructive -- why not the murders of Prashanth Poojary in Karnataka, of Sujeeth in Kerala, of Arun Mahaur in UP? Because if the liberals had demanded justice for Prashanth/Sujeeth/Arun, they would have been demanding action against their own people? The Dadri, Vemula, Poojary, Sujeeth, and Mahaur incidents all happened in states with 'secular liberal' (i.e., non-NDA) governments -- and law and order is a State subject. Why did the liberals choose to fight it out with the Central rather than with the State governments? As an aside, the Pandavas could be accused of being in perpetual fight mode with the Kauravas, right from childhood to the final war -- but does it necessarily follow that it was Yudhishthira's fault?
As for whether India has ever had such an aggressive cabinet or such belligerent ministers – let us start by discussing the previous cabinet. We had one Home Minister (Shinde) writing to State CMs to go soft on Muslim terror accused, and accusing the BJP/RSS of running terror camps. We had another Home Minister (Chidambaram) reportedly bullying the Union Home Secretary into filing a false affidavit in the Ishrat Jehan case, and apparently getting his CBI henchmen to burn a junior officer with igarette butts. We had the Congress chief calling a State CM 'maut ka saudagar' while her party ministers called him 'napunsak' and 'Bhasmasur'. The Congress VP tore up his own PM's ordinance at a press conference after calling it complete nonsense. An ex-CM (Digvijay Singh) challenged his own government's stand on the Batla House encounter.
Then take Indira Gandhi's Emergency cabinet – did not that cabinet take really aggressive measures, such as press censorship, midnight arrests, forced sterilization, suspension of democracy and basic rights, subversion of the judiciary? Or what about Rajiv Gandhi's cabinet ministers in 1984, who allegedly led murderous mobs through the streets of Delhi? Instead of calling the current cabinet the most aggressive ever, how about taking us through a fact-based comparative analysis?
And, incidentally, I do not recall you writing an article 'Grappling with Bhasmasur'-- are asura references only wrong if NDA ministers make them?
Indira Gandhi's government may have been accumulating power for its own sake, but it was also pushing its own ideology. Modi's government may also be pushing its ideology, but so do all governments. The Congress-Left for decades pushed their ideology in practically every institution in this country. Do you remember the Leftist howls of protest when the Rao government broke their stranglehold on the country's economic institutions and thought? They claimed that Rao would destroy the country's economy, just as they are now claiming that Modi will destroy the country's social balance. They were wrong then and they may well be wrong now. Modi, after all, declines to retaliate when an Opposition CM calls him a coward and a psychopath -- would Indira Gandhi have been as forgiving?
You state that there can be no public sympathy from the Government for Mohammed Akhlaq (murdered) or Rohith Vemula (suicide) or Kanhaiya Kumar (arrested). As I recall, the Government did condole Vemula's death. But has the Opposition shown any sympathy for Prashanth Poojary (murdered), Sujeeth (murdered), or Arun Mahaur (murdered)? Did PM Manmohan Singh show any sympathy for Tasleema Nasreen when she was assaulted by his MIM allies in Hyderabad? Or for Salman Rushdie when he was hounded out of the Jaipur Lit Fest in Congress-ruled Rajasthan? Is sympathy a one-way street?
Your reference to Obama is laughable -- the same Obama who sympathized with Ahmed Mohammed, cheerfully bombs Muslim civilians in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, detains suspected terrorists (mostly Muslims) without trial at Guantanamo, and authorizes NSA snooping and religious profiling at airports. He also supports Al Qaeda allied groups against the secular Syrian government, and sells F-16s to Pakistan -- but of course, a tweet to Ahmed makes that all OK. Street fighting MLAs are not unique to the BJP. A list would be too long, but one name will suffice -- the AAP's (allegedly) woman-molesting wife-beating Somnath Bharati -- who still has the full support of his party boss. As for ideologically driven divisive battles in Muzaffarnagar -- you do realize that the BJP won the by-election there? Shortly before the election, a local court acquitted several of the Hindus accused in the riots. Had the acquitted been Muslim, it would have been front-page news -- with demands for compensation for the 'oppressed minorities', and sympathetic interviews with their families. Since the acquitted are Hindu, the `secular’ media ignores them -- but the voters do not.
'Street-fighting MLAs [sic]' Sanjeev Balyan, who is an MP, had said that the acquittal would trigger the SP's defeat in Muzaffarnagar, and it did -- the left liberals did not listen to him, they were too busy canvassing American support for Kanhaiya. They forgot that the election was being fought not in American drawing rooms but on the streets of UP.
Student protests may have brought down the mighty Indira Gandhi government, but times have changed. How many people in this country actually support Kanhaiya & co? The only opinion polls on the subject I have seen (by rediff.com and Instavaani) actually support both government crackdown and sedition charges. Is it possible that as for Muzaffarnagar, so with JNU -- the leftist support is more in the English mainstream media and the drawing rooms and less on the streets?