(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Once in a while it’s fun to see an intellectual knackered down in the ivory tower of his own. So, it was with Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express today where he has been cornered by BJP’s general secretary Bhupendra Yadav.
Yadav, you see, has had problem with a Mehta column in the same pages which was titled “Railroading the Bills” and thus leaves nothing to imagination. Mehta had emptied his chamber of bullets which, usually with intellectuals, is a slow striptease for their masters and never really about the subject they are writing. Mehta has an audience in the West, in its academic and media circles, and it was for their consumption. Who cares if BJP heard it or not?
Bad luck for Mehta, this time Yadav did. So, Yadav first distils the essence of Mehta’s article and then proceeds to ask if tearing the rules book, breaking the mic, standing on table, screwing up the social distancing norm, was okay with the intellectual. If it was okay with the intellectual that the safety of marshals was tested and that neither the erring MPs nor their parties have had any regret to show for their conduct. And if that’s okay with the intellectual that such precedents of hooliganism are set in the Parliament of world’s largest democracy since he had completely side-stepped the issue.
Not that Yadav let Mehta go on his intellectual pretensions. So, he set about dismantling the intellectual point by point.
- You say “Question Hour” was suspended. But the “Right to Question” wasn’t suspended. Curtailed sessions often opt so. Why, even state assemblies in Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal—incidentally all ruled by Opposition—have also suspended the Question Hour. Any word for them, Mr intellectual?;
- You say the Select Committee was avoided. But you don’t recall that amendment to refer the Bill to the Select Committee had been moved—and could have arrived at some conclusion had not the hostile members surrounded the Deputy Chairman of the House and snatched papers from him;
- You say the “division” of votes were not allowed. But for a division to be allowed, the House has to be in order. And, by the way Mr Intellectual, who disrupted the order? Who walked out? Who ought to have been asked this question?
Mehta has said enough in last few years to leave no-one in doubt that he hates Narendra Modi and the conservative government in power. Before 2019 general elections, he had said: “The last five years have been a mutilation of the Indian soul” or “They stand for everything that is un-Indian.” Never mind, a common Indian has a completely different opinion to Mr intellectual.
But then Essential India is not what intellectuals such as Mehta and Arundhati Roy worry about. Often, they give a Western literary motif to their viewpoint which makes no sense to an average Indian. They are inaccessible to Indians as the latter are to them.
So, when Delhi gathered around 700 academics a couple of years ago, with the idea of creating an ecosystem of Indic knowledge tradition, it didn’t endear itself to Mehta, all because it had been organized by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). So, who would lead the revival of Indic tradition if not RSS? Have you asked the JNU, with all their state funding of taxpayers’ money, why they don’t have an Indian philosophy centre? And what about your own Ashoka University where you were a vice-chancellor until recently, Mr intellectual?
This was the man who viewed Ram Mandir as “dangerous” or “unnecessary”. He viewed it as act of terrorism since it was after a mosque had been razed down. This was the man who called for “street action” after Islamists and Leftists and Liberals weren’t able to get their way past India’s legislature or executive and the judiciary wanted to play by the rulebook. (Some wonder he escaped the Sedition charge!).
The government had followed the rulebook in both Houses of Parliament to make the Triple Talaq bill a reality. It had played by the rulebook in enacting a new profile of Jammu and Kashmir, doing away with the stain of seven decades of “temporary” special status. It also waited patiently, trusting in India’s judiciary and the Constitution, to end the legal wrangle of decades on Ram Janmabhoomi. It also presented its case impeccably to have the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) cleared by the Parliament.
Anyone who didn’t agree had the option of knocking the doors of Supreme Court. You surely expect such a conduct from Liberals who profess in centrality of the Constitution and the tenets of democracy. But then these Liberals are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
So, if the temporary status of Jammu and Kashmir is done away with after seven decades, it’s a problem. If a verdict in favour of Ram Temple, after Hindus of successive generations have exhibited exemplary patience, it’s a problem for the resident of the ivory tower.
So they didn’t agree by the rulebook, just as the Opposition hasn’t done on the Farm Bills. They gave a call for hooliganism, just as Opposition has now done on Farm Bills. All the pretence on swearing by the Constitution, Parliament, Judiciary, Democracy is what it is—a pretence. They deserve nothing but contempt.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I am a little intrigued by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s prolonged silence since protests and strikes filled our newspapers from headmast to imprint line even if on ground it occupied only a dozen maidans and gullies of our immense country.
I am also a little perplexed why BJP is dead-stone cold on the virulent Western protest and even on the staged marches which are being taken from Cape Town to Canada (yes, yes, Prakash Javedkar has whispered his displeasure).
Mamata is being typically outrageous in Bengal; Pinaryi Vijayan is comically taking referendum in Kerala assembly; Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra is picking every destitute child from the street and posing with a straight face, Uddhav Thackeray is comparing JNU to 26/11 and Kamalnath is commenting on prime minister Narendra Modi’s parentage. The sidekicks like Yogendra Yadav and Sitaram Yechury are only finding time for the Left students in their alma mater. The Shekhar Guptas of the netherworld are swooning over a mercenary Deepika Padukone. Bollywood, meanwhile, has come out of their ivory towers and are squatting on Mumbai’s grimy streets in their Gucchis and Armanis.
I can understand if you the readers are bewildered on what’s causing this outrage. Some days it’s police which is doing too much; On other days it’s police which is doing nothing. Some days students’ violence in campus (JNU) is being seen as India being overtaken by fascist forces: On other days, students in Bengal doing worse violence are being hailed for staking their lives to keep “democracy” and “secularism”alive. The swords on CAA, NPR and NRC have been sheathed for the moment. But be assured, it’s only the lull before the storm. It’s clear as crystal that anarchists, riding the two wheels of political lust and youths’ naivety, want to run over the Modi government.
In its’ nearly six years in power, the Modi government has done everything by the book (Constitution). Even on an issue as emotive as Ram Janmabhoomi. So far, the people it is in conflict with, was playing by the same rule. But now the matrix of the game has changed. Order is up against anarchy. We know the roadmap of Anarchists. How do you think Order should respond?
First, Order can’t abandon the governance it has been entrusted with by the majority of 1.3 billion people in this country. It can’t pass the CAA in the Parliament and then develop cold feet. Or abandon the NPR and NRC which is to distinguish between the real and fake citizens. It can’t be hostage to whim of a few.
What worse could happen? People would hit the streets, logjams, violence, bad press etc. (Police and para-military forces would do what they need to do). Urban youth could be alienated. Communal divide could be stoked. But why not trust millions more who are unseen and unheard but support your move?
I suspect BJP has worked out its way forward. It won’t be frozen into inaction. Policies would be formulated, legislation made and implemented. Law and order issues would be handled by law and order agencies. Let the ideological battle be settled by the people of this country. A hands-off approach actually seems a very smart move.
Let’s look at political and propaganda mafia. Both clearly want to spew so much poison that people of this country turn against the ruling dispensation. So they could seize control of political levers of the nation. But both are living in fantasy. These political parties—let’s take Congress and Left for example—don’t constitute more than 4-5 dozen seats in the parliament. Newspapers such as Indian Express don’t count more than a lakh in readership. English readership is heavily outnumbered by Hindi and regional press. It might feel good to see yourself mentioned in Western press and US democrats boardrooms. But it doesn’t win you elections. It won’t win you elections. All you do is to get trapped in your own propaganda. If nothing then learn from Donald Trump and Boris Johnson who you had given up as dead and who won such an emphatic mandate from the nameless and faceless.
It’s these nameless and faceless who would make a choice. Not a perfumed elite. That’s why you see BJP is not worried. That’s why it would do what it has to do. Left-Liberals-Bollywood could sing and create its national anthem. They could hope on an organic students’ protest in a few campuses. But it’s a minuscule and doesn’t speak for the majority of youth. BJP would have its own version of Hum Dekhenge.
Most importantly, all this has brought the threat of break-India forces alive to the Hindus of the nation. It would keep Hindus on their toes—and united. By stepping back, Modi dispensation is actually asking the silent majority to be aware of the danger it faces. The majority now knows exactly whom it is up against. The majority always had the numbers. Now it is infused with a new will. It has come about because Modi, that political animal, has chosen to be silent.