New Delhi (Syndicate Features): It may be fit to be described as poetic justice when two ‘tolerant’ stalwarts of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are at each other’s throat for certain words spoken by them. Soon after one of the prime defenders of Narendra Modi’s version of ‘tolerance’, Bollywood actor Anupam Kher, had said that the BJP members who spoke ‘nonsense’ and ‘ill-behaved’ should be sent behind bars and thrown out of the ruling party, Yogi Adityanath, a BJP Member of Parliament and a torchbearer of the Sangh Parivar’s much espoused Hindutva, termed him a ‘real life villain’.
You can only guess what sort of punishment the Yogi would prescribe for a ‘villain’. He has often accused the Opposition Congress leaders of working for ‘Pakistan’, his code for ‘villain’. There is a long list of Indians who, according to him, and those who think like him, should be pushed into Pakistan!
Kher does not have to really feel threatened in any manner from the ‘friendly fire’ directed at him. He might have been left nonplused for a moment; that is all. The anger Yogi Adityanath directed at him was expressed even more strongly by another prominent face of the Sangh Parivar, Sadhvi Prachi, who ‘dared’ Kher to send her and the Yogi to jail for their ‘nonsensical’ utterances.
For the moment, Kher is not keen on taking up the job of an American Sheriff and handcuff delinquents; he is happier leading protests against the Opposition and then rounding it off with a meeting with the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Should the followers of the Yogi and the Sadhvi go ahead and act as law enforcers?
But fear obviously gripped another ‘celebrity’. A TV anchor who is among the most recognized faces in the country received a threat of a more serious nature—reportedly a death threat for her coverage of the JNU controversy. She appeared to be sympathetic towards the students who were arrested rather than the authorities who ordered the action against them. That was construed as an unpardonable act. She reported the matter to the authorities after receiving a series of threatening calls—and then duly tweeted it, as is the fashion of the day.
The ‘threatening’ call to her came in the midst of a rush of threats in the country. The general secretary of the CPI (M), Saitaram Yechury, received a ‘threatening’ call late one night and lost no time in reporting it to the police. It was deemed serious enough for the police to barricade the party office in the heart of New Delhi.
The JNU president, Kanhaiya Kumar, would not have dreamt even in his wildest dreams that his presence at an ‘event’ on the campus would catapult him into fame—within India and abroad too. The ‘Sangh Parivar’ saw the campus ‘event’ as ‘anti-national’ and Kumar’s presence made him in the eyes of the ‘patriots’ guilty of an act of ‘sedition’. It was a good enough reason for quick intervention by the ‘patriotic’ and ‘nationalists’ forces by issuing threats to all and sundry even in the premises of courts. Ample rewards were being offered: Rs 5 lakh for cutting Kanhaiya Kumar’s tongue and Rs 11 lakh for shooting him dead.
There have been numerous instances of threats being issued against ‘anti-nationals’ in recent months. The true allegiance to state is decided by those who issue threats. That makes the Hindutva forces the prime suspect. A more authentic information can come only after a proper probe. In the meanwhile what is bothersome is that either no hurry is shown to register cases or to proceed against the culprits. Information technology gadgets seem to play a dominant role in transmitting threats and abuses.
Because of the frequency of the threats the matter no longer can be dismissed as a ‘prank’ or ‘frivolous’ in nature, and, so, unfit for intervention at the top political level. In fact, in most cases the callers proudly identify themselves with Hindutva causes. The callers of these threats feel encouraged and emboldened when their threats are dismissed as harmless aberrations.
It is not important that many who receive threats have managed to avoid any serious harm. But the harmful effect on the country’s reputation and image has been far more serious and lasting. Mere denunciation, and that too after a great deal of uproar, is meaningless unless it is followed by visible action against the errant men and women. The top levels of the ruling party do not seem to have any idea of the extent of damage the statements reportedly made by their members or sympathizers do to the country.
The government is hard put to defend the charge that the policies of the ruling party are dividing the country on the basis of religion and caste. It can considerably weaken the country, something that certain foreign forces have been trying to do so years.
Much rage and hate was in evidence after the recent agitation over the issue of reservations for the Jat community. The sufferers during the three days of the agitation say that what happened in several parts of Haryana was a grim reminder of the days of Partition; some say it was worse than that.
The deep divide between communities in Haryana is not about to disappear and hate and anger would continue to simmer. But things have to change and quickly too. The rising tension and sourness in the country has to be reversed forcefully. Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to enjoy wide mass support. He owes it to the people to address them with soothing words so as to heal the deep wounds.
Modi has often said that he is the Prime Minister of the whole country. But he has not matched that with appropriate words and action. He continues to be obsessed with his critics, especially the Congress leaders, refusing to see that the gap between his popularity and that of the Opposition leaders is still too wide to be bridged in a jiffy. Yes, that situation will not hold good very long if Modi continues to fiddle while India seethes with anger and hatred.