India Gate

If Arnab was to die tomorrow, how would it reflect on BJP? A fall-out it can’t escape

(A reprint from NewsBred).

Arnab said he feared for his life. If indeed he is put to rest, how much would we all be responsible?

The decision on bail plea on Monday is one thing. Arnab would be seeking 200 bails in coming days. He would probably visit Taloja Jail every fortnight if he survives this one. Have we already given up on him?

Let’s look at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Despite all the misgivings about it as a Hindu nationalist party, it actually is Right-to-Centre. I approve of this position too: It takes all to make up a society. To keep the country running. One at the cost of other is never an option. It’s a fool’s dream.

But the BJP can’t say it to millions of its supporters. It would rather be seen as a Hindu nationalist party even as it pursues an all-inclusive approach, Its on moment such as Arnab’s when the penny is dropped.

What could BJP do? Surely, it knows what Congress, Left and others would’ve done in its place. There would be lakhs and lakhs marching out to Mantralaya. Candle-light vigils on India Gate. Possibly some cars smashed, police stations burnt. A la Shaheen Bagh sit-ins. That’s how rogues circumvent police and judiciary. To strike terror in the heart of rivals. But BJP would rather have police and judiciary take its course.

Such moments as Arnab’s though have fall-outs. Most Hindus support BJP for they have felts cheated all these years on two counts: One, governance. Two, getting the wrong end of the stick by way of bias and prejudice. Men like me boil over at our history books, the narrative in prepaid media and academia, how our new exploiters were only colonialists in new garb.

Narendra Modi coming to power in 2014 was a decisive moment in independent India. Atal Bihari Vajpayee never had those kind of numbers. Hindus outpoured. Most did on social media. Men like me took to a more organized form of a website. We all wanted to fix everything we thought was wrong in our country.

BJP to our mind was a natural vehicle to Promised Land. An average Hindu wasn’t bound by Constitutional morality, the niceties of governance, the din which foreign forces are always drumming in your ears.

This was the first disconnect. We expected something from BJP which it had not promised in the first place. Maybe Arnab too is guilty of high hopes. That as we are rooting for BJP, the latter would root for us too. Discarding the Constitutional norms. It is a delusion of our own creation.

Truth is one thing. How it’s perceived is a different matter altogether. BJP would not be wrong in sensing that quite a few of its die-hards supporters today are disenchanted. Probably Arnab is too. Losing such invaluable voices is one thing. Giving a roadmap to India-breakers is another. If Arnab is picked in Mumbai, I could be chained in Delhi tomorrow. Some other voice could be in Rajasthan or Punjab or Kerala or Bengal.

It could all have a domino effect. It’s all right to say that you are following your Raj Dharma. But it’s also a moment to remember how Karna or Bali were dealt with in the fight of Right vs Wrong. Or for that matter Dronacharya and Bhishma. What’s left of your Dharma if the Nation itself slides back into the hands of those we are trying to extricate it from? What if you are hostage to your vows as Arjuna was when Gopikas were picked up by Bheels?

If indeed Arnab was to die tomorrow is a dreadful prospect. In one stroke, most Hindu voices we hear today would fall silent. It would be a template for Forces we are up against. They would know how to overwhelm us. They won’t have to be in power in other states. Like Vibhor Anand, you could be picked from Delhi itself. One senses they completely want to overwhelm the system–The Executive, Legislative and Judiciary—by unleashing anarchy while our institutional pillars are chained by their oath to Constitution.

This is a country where a Kasab lives on for years. Where Nirbhaya’s killers survive on and on. And then we have this TV anchor, admittedly loud, who is being dealt with brazenly: AK-47 toting cops, the excuse of a mobile phone to shift to a dreaded jail etc. It’s a grim prospect, an image of a brutal State which judiciary and executive could do nothing to redeem.

BJP would have to play this game. All those killings in Bengal had struck a wrong note in millions of Hindus all these years. But they were faceless and unknown to most. But Arnab is different. It could have a cascading effect. At one level, BJP’s strident supporters would pull their feet back. Would watch every word they say, every action they plan, every message they forward. At another level, the disenchantment with BJP would grow.

It would not be good for the party, for the nation and certainly not for a billion Hindus.

 

 

The London Times chooses India’s planned new Central Vista to reveal its’ Hinduphobia

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

If I was the editor of London Times, god forbids, and had sought out my New Delhi correspondent Hugh Tomlinson in my cabin, it would cross my mind how he would make a living outside the News Building in London.

I am afraid I don’t know how good he is with his arms or legs, for as far as his mind is concerned, there is enough in his latest piece to suggest it’s in need of attention.

He has chosen to write about the proposed “Central Vista” in India’s Capital which would be at least six years in the making and would house India’s parliamentarians besides carving out a new residence for its prime minister.

Somehow, he has quoted £2.4 billion as the cost of new Central Vista which is nearly three times the proposed expenditure. I mean I distinctly remember the concerned Indian minister to have pegged the figure at £800 million. Who is Hugh’s source? I need to ask for he hasn’t bothered with his source in the piece. Not even “according to a tea-seller outside the ministry who refused to be named.” I know pen-pushers are grumpy on their salary; and pissed at any penny the government spends. But even lies need be palatable. You can’t describe the fly-in-your-tea as a new delicacy.

Then Hugh shouts out that the expense involves the one on Indian prime minister Mr Modi’s new residence. I mean it would only be ready after 2024 when Modi would’ve finished his second term. Who knows the people’s choice thereafter? Unless of course a bird has hummed the future in Hugh’s ears. And if indeed it’s a prediction, how would he approach Rahul Gandhi after dooming his prospects? Burning bridges from both ends, I say.

By now, I know figures are not Hugh’s strong points. To his eyes, India’s parliament is almost a century old. It’s actually seven years outside since it began functioning in 1927. As a Briton, he ought to remember that all it took was seven years of World War II to terminate the British Empire of centuries. It was enough to move the nerve centre of world from London to Washington.

Hugh, I would tell him, do work on your history. I mean you find the Parliament House most viewed structure after Taj Mahal. It can’t be that you haven’t been to Gateway of India. Or the magnificent view of Rashtrapati Bhavan from India Gate has escaped you. You also declare with flourish that the new Central Vista would “consign to history” the Parliament House.  The latter in fact would only be turned into a museum.

A few visits to library—I mean not the one of our own in The Times which hides more than it reveals– would let you know that in today’s free world, words such as imperialism and slavery are cussed terms.

When this new city we call New Delhi came up, built by Herbert Baker and Edwin Lutyens, and which led to creation of the Parliament and the Viceroy’s House (Rashtrapati Bhavan) among others, India’s native leaders, later its founding fathers, viewed it as permanent edifice of colonialism. Nehru had mocked it as the “chief temple where the High Priest officiated” while Mahatma Gandhi is rumoured to have wanted to turn the Viceroy’s House into a hospital.

Baker was the disciple of arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Baker’s words “…People must raise themselves to liberty, it is a blessing that must be earned…” are still engraved outside New Delhi’s secretariats. This view was the guiding public face of colonialism, propounded by men such as John Ruskin which justified centuries of genocide and pillage by the British around the world. Lutyens had viewed the Taj Mahal, which Hugh so admires, as “small but very costly beer.” It can’t be that it has escaped Hugh’s attention the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were attacked in Portland recently . Today’s US is hell-bent on discarding racists and slavery-champions, what if they were its founding fathers.

Hugh clearly suffers from Hinduphobia. I squirmed in my seat at his words that the present move is “desecration of India’s heritage” amidst the growing fears that “Modi aims to sweep away India’s secular foundations and establish a Hindu theocracy.” I mean even by prejudicial yardstick of The Times, this was too far out.

For India to establish a Hindu theocracy, it would have to drive 200 Indian Muslims into Indian Ocean. It would have to deny voting rights to millions; dump periodic elections and burn up the Indian Constitution. Modi could perhaps all do this if he could transport a billion Hindus to some other planet which is habitable but has not a single other soul.

Who gave Hugh this idea? I hope not one among the 100 “historians” and “architects” who have written a letter to Delhi’s planners recently. How do you bring people into decision-making? By referendum? And keep the voters-in-favour waiting for four years. a la Brexit?

The official word to me seems pretty sound. The 500-odd member of parliaments (MPs) don’t have their own chambers to meet or attend a stream of visitors. Where do they handle secret documents that the MPs are required to read and refer? Where do they peer through volume of committees-related work? Is the present Parliament safe on hazards such as “fire” and “earthquake-resistant”? Does it have basic public facilities and ample parking? Do we want people to take call on such specialized matters? Don’t elections in democracy mean that the work of people has ended and the job of government has begun?

It is India’s money and India’s choice. They have every right to vision an India of tomorrow. If it feels the new Central Vista would lead to better coordination among parliamentarians, cabinet, the President and their attendant staff for efficient running of the country, who is me or Hugh to knit the dog’s hair?

The one thing I would grant Hugh is that he didn’t give the headline. Next in my chamber is the sub-editor who put “vanity scheme” in the headline. Who’s vanity? Modi’s? Where’s such a reference in the text?