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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2038

End Double Speak

By Ashok Handoo - Syndicate Features

When in Pakistan Mumtaz Qadri, killer of the then Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, was showered with rose petals and felicitated by people who lifted him up on shoulders in the court premises some five years ago , the world was left aghast. Taseer was eliminated because he had sought clemency for a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death under the blasphemy law for having passed disparaging remarks against the Holy book. Taseer had been warning against the misuse of blasphemy law by vested interests.

Unfortunately, there were not even feeble protests in Pakistan over Taseer’s killing for two reasons. One that it suited the military and the civil administration then ruling the country and two, that those who could raise a voice were tormented by the fear of reprisals by the terrorists let loose in the country. Things worsened to the extent that the trial court judge who awarded death sentence to the culprit was forced to flee the country along with his family to save their lives. Thankfully, the High Court and the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence though it is yet to be executed.

Something similar seems to be happening in India that has a rich tradition of democracy, secularism and value for human rights. The rightwing Hindu Mahasabha observed 15 November- the day Nathu Ram Godse the Killer of Mahatma Gandhi was executed- as Balidan Divas. It felicitated Hindu Sena Chief Vishnu Gupta, who recently kicked up a row by alleging that cow meat was being served at the Kerala House in New Delhi. Some other Hindu activists were also felicitated to mark the day.

The Hindu Mahasabha leaders in their press statements are reported to have said that Godse was a “real hero” and he did a service to the nation by killing the Mahatma. They are reported to have said that if anybody else tries to turn into another Mahatma and act against India’s interests, thousands of Godses would rise against him. The Hindu Mahasabha torch bearers have gone to the extent of suggesting that the “contributions” of Godse should be included in school text books.

Is this the service we are rendering to Gandhiji, who is revered as the Father of the Nation in India and abroad in equal measure and to the motherland that is known and respected for its belief in freedom, liberty and equality? At his press conference in London the other day, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked that India is a land of Mahatma Gandhi and Gautam Buddha and there should be no fears about the level of tolerance in the country. But look what is happening back home.

The humiliating defeat the BJP suffered in Bihar, though mostly of its own making, is an opportunity for course correction by the party and to restrain the motor mouths that work against the ethos of the country. That does not seem to be happening. Or is it too early to expect such a change over?

BJP leaders on their part have either distanced themselves from the motor mouth-speaks or condemned it. But then they have been condemning other acts like Dadri killing also. The point is at the ground level nothing is changing. Many of the motor mouths are holding responsible positions in the government. So the impression is gaining that they as also the so called fringe elements are either acting with tacit support of the leadership of the Parivar or the government and BJP high command have lost all control on such elements.

Agreed the BJP, the RSS and its affiliates have a grudge against the Congress, the party that ruled India for most of the past six decades.

Their grudge may have some ideological basis too but is condemning everything that happened since independence the right approach to govern this country. Isn’t this government in saddle only because of the democratic traditions firmly embedded in the Constitution largely because of Gandhi and Nehru? Can we paint the entire history of 65 years with a broad black brush? Surely, mistakes could have taken place but that is part of the game. What matters is whether anything was done with malice. The answer is a big no.

Instead of correcting the mistakes, if any, slamming the entire leadership of the past is not the right approach. It will only lead to divisions and schism which will not only hamper growth but also divide the society into groups opposing each other. That certainly is not in national interest.

It is time that the BJP and the government it heads make their stand clear on these issues. If they believe that leaders who hold important positions in the party and the government are making irresponsible statements that are damaging the country’s image, they need to act against them before it is too late. If on the other hand they believe that what they are doing is right, they must not indulge in deceptive statements. There is no scope of double speak.

- Asian Tribune -

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