When I, as a BJP voter and supporter, look at the last four years and the statements made by BJP leadership, there are many which fill me with immense pride. BJP under Narendra Modi has broken the ongoing environment of Political feudalism which plagued the Indian polity ever since the aristocratic son to the rich lawyer of Allahabad made a tryst with destiny at the stroke of the Midnight in his chaste, Victorian English.
My mind goes back to the man, who was written off as an ambitious aberration by the Political Pundits, never expected to ever rule the nation in reality, walking up the hallowed stairs of world’s largest democracy, bending down and touch the ground with his forehead. I remember him as the man, much maligned by the lobby which was in shock even after a thumping majority, to call himself Pradhan Sevak, or the Chief Servant of the people of this nation.
Then I also remember the media and assorted intellectuals, displaced from the power structure by this sudden tsunami which their cunning calculations missed out totally, coming together to attack, malign and hound Modi and his ministers. Those attacking the Prime Minister and his ministers weren’t nameless trolls. They were people well identified but such was the steely conspiracy of silence that no one uttered a word.
The man who swore to cut Narendra Modi to pieces in the Assembly elections was promoted by the Congress. And no one spoke, not one squeak. Congress outside the BJP did not speak, the Congress within the BJP did not speak. Not that self-made people like Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani needed defending from parasitic intellectuals. I remember one statement of Ms Irani, who faced vilest of abuses on the social media once speaking in an interview to Rajdeep Sardesai, saying: “I am not some Political Cinderella waiting to be rescued.” Oh, it so endeared the Minister, as a people’s representative and as a working woman.
This is not to say that Ms Sushma Swaraj needs some rescuing. She has been a strong woman all along and does not need any defending. That Ram Madhav chose to defend Ms Swaraj in the aftermath of a controversy surrounding the out-of-turn release of passport to a Muslim Lady, Anas Siddiqui with her pre-conversion name, seems to be his own decision to self-appoint himself as some knight in shining armour to Ms Swaraj for reasons best known to him.
The lady in question, applied for a passport with her earlier name, with a fake address where she does not live. Concerns were raised by the relevant officer. With the case hyped by the media, and Ms Swaraj who seemingly is largely becoming captive to her own carefully cultivated image took no time in sidelining the legitimate concerns raised by the officer, intervened. The passport was released promptly, circumventing the procedure and transferred the concerned officer. As we later find out, Ms Swaraj was out of India when this happened. This could possibly explain her failure to read the pulse of the nation and mistake in deciding which way the wind would eventually blow and where the dust would settle.
There is a wise saying that if something can go without saying, let it go. But thanks to the advisers Ms Swaraj seems to have freshly found, particularly from the sections which hate Narendra Modi to no end, she decided not to let it go. Clubbing the genuine and polite questions with few downright abusive tweets of unknown sources, she responded with the trademark Delhi-wallah response of – Tu Jaanta Nahin main Kaun hoon, of course, not in those exact words.
The media, the leftists and all the known Modi detractors jumped out like croaking frogs after the first shower of Monsoon from their slimy corners, gleefully clapping every time Ms Swaraj took one of her down with her brilliant jibes. As she blocked the Right Wing handles en masse, she unblocked some leftists on social media. That be as it may, while we had just come out of this whole unsavoury saga, bruised and humiliated, Shri Ram Madhav came out with this article.
Apart from other points mentioned above, I found this article intellectually shallow for someone of Ram Madhav’s stature.
He begins the article from “Whether EAM Sushma Swaraj was responsible for the transfer of a junior-level employee or not…”. The way the terms Junior-level pounces at you the moment you were reading, you know from the first line that this piece is not about defending anyone, it is about disciplining the dissent.
The first sentence itself sets the tone as if mocking the outrage for a mere “junior-level employee”. Then he dismisses the queries raised, calling them secondary issues, not because they are indeed secondary, rather because he says they need to be investigated. All charges, I would say, need to be investigated, but they do not become secondary because the investigation is pending. He does not even tell us if there is an investigation ongoing in the matter.
The retrospective changes in the prevailing policies do not amount to an official assurance of fair investigation. Between the concerns raised by the larger section of social media supporters of Ms Swaraj and this government regarding the national security implication of diluting the rules in a media-heavy case, and a few vile abuses that the Honorable Minister received from some unknown handles, he says latter is of more importance.
Having confessed that the primary purpose of his post is not to delve into the issues of the matter, and the procedural and policy implications for the matter, he, however, goes into the case again.
He then tries to create an adorable and sympathetic picture of Anas Siddiqui who deserves public affection, not outrage. He presents the case as some kind of commendable bravery on the part of the lady who converted to Islam some 15-years back but continued to hold on to her Hindu name.
The passport form clearly asks if the applicant has had any aliases, to which the lady, in this case, had responded in negative, while the documents mentioned otherwise. Ram Madhav converts this act of deliberate hiding of the facts in a government application into an act of bravery, calling it a glorious example of Omnitheist nature of Indian culture. He says that instead of taking on the lady for lying, he suggests that social media activists should have taken on the cleric who made the lady change her name, under duress.
Investigations have not happened, making the matter secondary, but that doesn’t stop Shri Ram Madhav from imagining the scenario of Ms Tanvi Seth’s wedding, and painting it for the junior-level BJP supporters. The lady, poor, shivering and docile, rebelling from the obvious opposition of her parents to marry out of religion, suddenly going all submissive in front of a Maulvi, solemnizing the wedding, obviously post-conversion to ensure that the pious Muslim husband could marry a Kaafir Hindu, of course, post-conversion to Islam.
When the media continues to call the wedding of two Muslim individuals as inter-faith marriage, who are we to question? Anyway, the point is that Mr Madhav wants those on Twitter to somehow get on a Time-Machine, travel 15 years back and outrage over the Maulvi who officiated over Ms Tanvi Seth’s wedding. However impossible this may be, it presents the possibility to write another Op-Ed, as to how junior-level BJP supporters ought to keep their long, Aryan noses out of the private matters of the wedding of Ms Siddiqui in line with the Omnitheist culture of this great country? Writing to defend Anas Siddiqui would be a climb-down from writing to defend the Honorable Minister, but am sure, would prove to be as PR-worthy.
Ram Madhav ends his article by quoting Francis Fukuyama. He writes Social trust is the unspoken, unwritten bond between fellow citizens and such. He admonishes the supporters for distrusting their leader and in his own sweet, sophisticated way, directs them to surrender the instruments of dissent, lay down their weapons and bow down to the grand and grotesque humongous statures of our elected leaders like Ms Sushma Swaraj.
He forgets that the installation of demi-Gods is the point from where degeneration of democracy begins. In a democracy, it is silly to ask people to surrender the right to question their representatives on their actions. Democracy is all about accountability and answerability of the elected class. Democracy thrives when people are not made into giants and Gods.
Ms Sushma Swaraj has done great deeds for the nation, not to consider her vow to shave off her head to prevent a foreign-born from ruling over India. She is indeed, a great leader. But to demand blind, unquestioning trust for her from the people is something on which tyrannical regimes are built. It is an idea which is not conducive to the idea of democracy.
I too would, taking a leaf from the noted writer Ram Madhav, end my rant, my lament here with a quote from the famed speech titled “The Grammar of Anarchy” made by Dr. BR Ambedkar on the 25th of November, 1949, where he said, ” There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the nation. But there are limits to gratefulness. … This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or Hero-worship plays a part in its politics, unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a path to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is sure road to degradation…”
Public memory is short, and the heart of an ordinary citizen is large and forgiving. But every act of forgiveness requires some amount of forgetfulness. People like Ram Madhav would do well to let the wind blow and this episode pass, instead of burdening this sad episode with such needless intervention, while a no-frills statement from the minister that “we regret if we gave an appearance of partisanship in policies” would have been desirable.
Ms Swaraj has defended the party while in opposition so long, Mr Madhav. She surely is no political Cinderella. In your urge to defend the indefensible, you are only alienating a good leader from her supporters. You do not fight elections, Ms Swaraj does. As I said, If something can go without saying, let it.
A technology worker, writer and poet, and a concerned Indian. Saket writes in Hindi and English. He writes on socio-political matters and routinely writes Hindi satire in print as well in leading newspaper like Jagaran. His recently published Hindi satire collection “Ganjhon Ki Goshthi” is on amazon and getting excellent reception and readership.