Dear Pavan Varma: Are you the ‘fringe’ or the ‘mainstream’?

Pavan Varma–his snobbery must never be mistaken for gravitas, never homespun but unmistakably Western—writes in Times of India that “fringe” and “mainstream” is one and the same thing when it comes to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He gives instances to imply that BJP is promoting sectarian violence, artistic intolerance, rewriting history and imposing public morality.

At the outset, Varma must decide whether he is a “fringe” or “mainstream” of BJP. After all Janata Dal (United) is in power in Bihar because of BJP’s support and Varma is its national general secretary. If BJP is anathema to him, why lounge with them? And conversely, by tolerating a “fringe” like him, doesn’t “mainstream” (BJP) show itself to be different and plural? How is “fringe” and “mainstream” the same for BJP then?

A BJP MP from Maharashtra goes public in his criticism of Narendra Modi and paints the town red. Yet, this “fringe” is never pulled up by the “mainstream.” How would Varma describe this “fringe” and “mainstream” as the same?

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Dr Subramaniam Swamy is a Rajya Sabha member because of thinly disguised support of the BJP. Yet, he loses no opportunity to lash out at arguably number two in the BJP government, Arun Jaitley. Why the “fringe” Swamy and the “mainstream” Jaitley aren’t the same in this instance?

In trying to impress his case, Varma treats the questioning on “Taj Mahal” as virtually blasphemy. If the spirit of questioning is met with the same “intolerance” that Varma exhibits then the world would still have been flat and earth still the centre of universe.  He has objection to Islamic rule—around 800 years– being called a period of “extreme exploitation, insane barbarism, and unprecedented intolerance. “

Varma, a History student, probably hasn’t heard of Ibn Batuta who gives a contemporary account of 14th century Delhi, where decapitated and mutilated bodies were strewn at the door of the palace of Sultan, daily. Nor that Batuta was given scores of Hindu sex slave girls for his pleasure. Varma probably has also not heard of historian Will Durant who wrote in his Story of Civilization, “the Mohammedan conquest of India was probably the bloodiest story in history.” Or the more contemporary V.S. Naipaul who lamented that Hindu civilization was “mortally wounded” and “ancient Hindu India” was destroyed by these invasions.

Yet Varma wouldn’t allow us the blasphemy of questioning “Taj Mahal” or “Islamic rule.” He has a problem with “fringe” Dina Nath Batra on his conviction of ancient India and the “mainstream” Narendra Modi sharing the belief. While modern giants of quantum physics today acknowledge the contribution of Vedas; if a Fields Medal (mathematics Nobel) winner concedes that Sanskrit texts and ancient seventh century mathematician Brahmagupta helped his quest, Varma would like us to believe his bogus and compromised intellectualism and not these verified truth.

Varma would do well to examine the “fringe” and “mainstream” overlapping of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal or Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala. We await his verdict on “fringe” Jignesh Mewani and “mainstream” Rahul Gandhi on caste polarization. He can enlighten us with his views on “fringe” abuses of our elected Prime Minister by “mainstream” AAP, SP and BSP leaders.


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