Rajyavardhan Rathore, India’s minister of Information and Broadcasting who also heads the Ministry of Sports has penned a blog for The Times of India. In the post, titled ‘Fake liberal narrative is laughable, baseless’, he has highlighted our country’s freedom and the sacrifices it took to earn it, emphasizing the need to maintain the territorial and constitutional integrity of India.
In the article, Rathore writes that our constitution grants us certain fundamental rights and those articles that make the basic structure of our constitution, granting the citizens of India the rights of life, speech, liberty and equality are unamendable. He asserts these rights have moral and legal sanctity and it is our collective duty to protect them.
Rajyavardhan Rathore goes ahead to discuss that the conventional threat perception in the Indian context is threats from our neighbours, especially Pakistan. He writes that Pakistan never came to terms with Jammu and Kashmir being a part of India and after repeated failed attempts at conventional warfare, has resorted to state-sponsored terrorism in an attempt to destabilise India. Hence, Rathore writes, ensuring the stability and integrity of our country has been ingrained in most Indians as the patriotic thing to do.
He further adds that in recent times, there has been a disturbing trend to brand patriotic Indians wishing to conserve India’s integrity as obscurantists, fundamentalists and are called them the right wing. In contrast, people who undermine India’s territorial integrity, use violence to divide the nation and continuously project our country negatively are being branded as activists, progressives and liberals. Rathore adds that this labelling is wrong and is rejected by the silent majority of Indians.
Rathore cites the example of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and Maoists/Naxals operating in interior India. He adds that terrorists have stalled economic progress in J&K, which, ideally should be the state with the highest per capita income in India. He adds that the Maoists/Naxals od central India have a similar plan. They want to destabilise the government and deprive the tribals of these regions of socio-economic progress. He asserts that the standard yardsticks of constitutional freedom cannot be applied to these elements because they are threatening the very integrity of the nation that grants these constitutional rights to its people.
Rathore further discusses that the political alternative being offered by these elements has no place for equality, religious tolerance and free speech. It only has the rule of the gun. One of them seeks to establish a theocratic dictatorial state and another wants an ideologically committed dictatorship. He asserts that both these ideas are being pushed into public discourse by a few vested interests and people opposing them are being branded as undemocratic and right-wingers. He terms it an absolute irony that some of those who are protected by the very blood and sweat by the nationalists defending the integrity of the country are being embarrassed to identify with it. Rathore the askes these people that if their freedom of speech will exist after the groups they are supporting succeed to overthrow the Indian state.
Rathore further adds that the very cause of freedom and liberty is a liberal one and it can only be preserved by those who believe in the constitution of India. It cannot be achieved by groups which act as public faces of the violent underground movements and keep apologising for them. He adds that the protests and narratives of these groups are aimed against armed forces, the very forces that make sacrifices protecting India against threats. He states, “ Having spent most of my life being part of the armed forces, I am intimately and deeply aware of the sacrifices they make. They defend the freedom of India, many times at the cost of their own lives. It is disappointing when the very groups our armed forces defend India against are later supported by pseudo-human rights organizations.”
He highlights the fact that fake liberal narrative chooses to glorify Afzal Guru instead of the likes of Lt Umar Fayaz and rifleman Aurangzeb.
Rathore further discusses that certain political parties have swallowed up the narrative and have resorted to fear-mongering, trying to create a spectre of threats against freedom under the Modi government. He calls the false-narrative baseless and laughable. He cites the incident when Rajiv Gandhi, in 1986, tried to implement the Indian Post Office (amendment) bill, which would have allowed his government to read the letters of private citizens. Thankfully, he adds, the bill was rejected by the then President.
Rathore further cites another incident, where Congress’ Rajiv Gandhi brought forward the Anti Defamation Bill in 1988, asserting that the bill was totally needed, Gandhi then tried to implore the press to support the bill. He nudged the press again, writes Rathore, but the press refused to budge on the issue and the bill never saw the light of the day.
Rathore asserts that it was the vigilance or the press that preserved constitutional values by not allowing the bill to become a reality. He adds that the same level of commitment to freedom is required today from all of us to defend our liberty and preserve the fabric of our society.
Rathore concludes by stating that in today’s vast, diverse and complex society, it is very easy to induce fear through the simplest of ways and create an environment of fear among the masses. He adds that in the era of instant, digital messaging and social media, it is the people who would have to be vigilant not to give in to narratives of fake-fear and protect the social and territorial integrity of our country. He urges the people of the country to come forward and be vigilant against elements that pose a threat to our nation’s social fabric and integrity. He concludes, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”.