Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of The Wire and a US citizen himself, opined on Friday that Prime Minister Modi greeting people with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ at his rallies is a ‘corrupt practice’. While it would be utter naivete to expect anything else from The Wire’s founding editor, it appears Modi’s detractors are clutching at straws at this point.
He went a step further and claimed that it was dishonest to claim that a Gujarati politician using a ‘UP greeting’ for a Bengali audience was not appealing to Hindu identity.
Modi saying ‘Jai Shri Ram’ at a rally in Jhargram is a corrupt practice. “…religion… would not be allowed to play any role in the electoral process and should an appeal be made on any of those considerations, same would constitute a corrupt practice.” https://t.co/zSRXVDU22m
— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) May 10, 2019
Ya, so you are saying a Gujarati politician is using a UP greeting for a Bengali audience and not appealing to their Hindu identity! At least be honest to yourself!
— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) May 10, 2019
Varadarajan’s words are problematic and troubling at various levels. Although an American citizen cannot be expected to appreciate the subtleties of Hindu Dharma, a self-proclaimed journalist ought to know better.
First of all, we ought to celebrate the fact that the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is bringing Indians of all hues together. If a slogan can unite Indians and bring them under one banner while infusing in them with inspiration to work for the betterment of the country, then we ought to appreciate the slogan for its ability to bring people together.
Secondly, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is a manner of greeting as Varadarajan himself admits, then how can a form of greeting be considered an appeal for people to vote in the name of religion? Greeting people with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ does not implore people to vote in the name of religion, it does not make any attempt to polarize people in the name of religion, then how can it be a corrupt practice? Is greeting people a corrupt practice now?
Moreover, quite clearly, the people at Narendra Modi’s rallies do not mind being greeted with chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. In fact, they have wholeheartedly embraced it. In Bengal, the slogan has turned into a “Bidrohor Chitkar” (Cry of Protest) among Bengalis who are sick and tired of the tyrannical conduct of the Mamata Banerjee government. Then why should a US citizen take offence? It wasn’t him Narendra Modi was greeting with that slogan. Do such people expect the Election Commission to now dictate how people greet each other? Are we going to fall so low?
As I have mentioned in an earlier article, Shri Rama is revered by Hindus from all communities. Bengalis love Shri Rama just like people from any other region. Therefore, as a Bengali myself, I hardly have any issues with being greeted by that slogan. In fact, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is how one of my Odiya friends and myself greet each other. In West Bengal, it is extremely common, especially since recent times, to see people greeting each other with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ on the streets. Does it become a ‘corrupt practice’ merely because the Prime Minister is doing it? Narendra Modi drinks water as well, will Varadarajan label that a corrupt practice and quit drinking water himself?
It is quite astounding that all the while as liberals sing paeans for unity and harmony, they try every trick under the Sun to keep Hindus divided. If Hindus of all hues find common ground under Shri Rama, then its unity that is the problem according to liberals.
It’s quite evident that at the heart of the matter is the Hinduphobia that is extremely entrenched in liberal circles. The Hinduphobia runs so deep that liberals consider the slightest overt display of Hinduism to be a ‘corrupt practice’. And they are troubled greatly by Hindus coming under one banner. And it is a matter of great concern to them that Hindus are uniting under the banner of Shri Rama.
Further evidence of their colour blindness is the fact that liberals see no issues with political parties with names such as ‘All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen’ and ‘Indian Union Muslim League’. Liberals have no problems with such political parties and do not think that such parties ask for votes in the name of religion. But a Hindu Prime Minister greeting the attendees of his rallies with ‘Jai Shri Ram’, a traditional manner of greeting people among Hindus, is a ‘corrupt practice’ according to the same people.
Of all Hindu Gods, it’s quite clear that liberals have a problem with Rama the most. And it’s not hard to imagine why. Shri Rama has become the vessel for the political unity of Hindus transcending the barriers of caste, class, creed, region and language. Thus, it’s no wonder that liberals are trying desperately to disparage anything and everything associated with Rama.