Ram Guha and Harsh Mander reach the same destination of bigotry, they just take two different paths

‘Historian’ Ram Guha, whose sycophancy towards The Family is not hidden, has today written a response to an opinion written by ‘activist’ Harsh Mander. Harsh Mander’s article, ‘Sonia, Sadly’, writes about ‘political marginalisation of Muslims’ where he implicitly propagates ‘two nation theory’ advocated by Jinnah.

In his article, Mander talks how Muslims in India feel afraid and threatened. That they are forced to live in fear of hate violence. He goes on to blame Sonia Gandhi because he feels even Congress ‘alienated’ Muslims. He feels that many people think Muslims are a political liability, especially when a ‘Dalit leader’ had urged Muslims to join them in their rallies, keeping their ‘skullcaps and burkas’ at bay. He feels that this will voluntarily get Muslims to stay away from politics. He quotes an unnamed Congress MP who puts the onus on Hindus to decide whether they want India to become a Hindu Rashtra or remain secular. He says the BJP has created a ‘toxic majoritarian’ where Muslims are not ‘just irrelevant’ but are also ‘political bogeyman’, whose ‘visible support will frighten voters’.

To counter it, Guha has today written an article which he pretends is the other side of what Mander said. Guha starts off which politely disagreeing with Mander’s views saying how they have usually agreed on same things in the past. Guha likens wearing burka or skullcap to Hindus ‘flaunting saffron robes and trishuls at rallies’. As if comparing voluntarily and proudly wearing one’s religious identity to that of the centuries-old symbol of oppression like a burka wasn’t enough, Guha points out that while burka isn’t a ‘weapon’, in a symbolic sense it is akin to a ‘Trishul’. While there is no denying that some extreme elements use Trishul and sword as means of violence, calling it a weapon is like linking every burka-clad woman to the terrorist who wears a burka while escaping and accidentally blows himself off.

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Guha states that objecting wearing burka and skullcaps in public places is not asking Muslims to voluntarily back off, but it symbolises ‘liberation’. He then says how no Muslim should be denied the right to voice his criticism of Hindu leaders as feared by Mander. And he ‘detests’ Hindutva majoritarianism as much as Mander and since Hindus are the majority in India, their ‘communalism’ is far more ‘dangerous’ than ‘Muslim communalism’. Essentially, Muslims, who are the second largest majority in India, can continue doing their communalism, because it’s not ‘as dangerous’, according to Guha. He says how ‘liberals’ should promote individual interest against that of the community and hence they must take on both, Hindu and Muslim communalists. When Mandar says Muslims in India should be free to choose their leaders and campaign for those they support, Guha paints a picture where this is dangerous as Muslims should also be critical of Hindus who are ‘misled’ by Pravin Togadia and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

It is interesting how the two have managed to paint the picture such that they are able to retain their ‘intellectual’ credentials while they camouflage their bigotry under the veil of liberalism. They water down a symbol of oppression like the Burqa and demonise a religious symbol like the Trishul. He puts the onus of any sort of communal violence on Hindus exonerating completely the Muslims and without so much as a mention of Islamic terrorism. He peddles the exact same communal and sectarian rationale that the Congress’ communal violence bill was based on, basically saying, that any communal violence is the Hindu’s fault and only Muslims can ever be declared the victims of it.

Essentially, while Mander tries to paint the Muslims as a big chunk of victims, Guha has repackaged that same argument to say Hindus are evil, instead of painting the Muslims as victims.

In the end, Mander and Guha reach the exact same destination of Hindu hatred and communal bigotry, they just pretend to take different paths to it.


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