From the time BJP government has come to power in 2014, almost anything and everything that happens in the country is given a communal twist. Be it judgements of the honourable Supreme Court, development or social initiatives of the government or its stance against terrorists – there is a lobby (comprising of politicians from opposition, minority community leaders, media persons and social activists) that invariably tries to attach a Hindu or Muslim tag to every issue. If it is pro Muslim or anti Hindu then they have no problem but even if there is a hint of it being the other way round, then all hell breaks loose. Television debates showcase political, social and community spokespersons of dubious credentials who seek their two minutes of fame with bizarre arguments bordering on ridiculousness. The media thrives in pitting the lobby against the government and the verbal duels go from base to crass. One wonders why the media shies away from projecting normal responsible citizens and see what they feel and have to say. But then no media house wants a sane debate since sanity does not help in the TRP or circulation race. It is important to have loud and partisan voices topped by an even louder anchor who flashes secret and top secret documents at the drop of a hat to validate his two penny worth opinion. The print media is no different. Some members of the lobby still manage to hog a lot of prime space to vent out their frustrations and perceived grievances against the establishment that has stripped them of all their extra constitutional power and privileges over the last three years. Today their sole aim is to punch holes in anything that the government does or says – merit of the matter notwithstanding. It is surprising that the country is still running in last three years since the lobby would have the citizens believe that the government of the day is anti poor, anti minorities and good at nothing other than spreading communal hatred and violence.
Today the first reaction to an unfortunate murder of a journalist, who was known for her strong anti Hindu, anti establishment and pro Naxalites views, is that Hindu rightists must have killed her. Such reactions came from various sections of the lobby within minutes of the news breaking in the media. Rahul Gandhi even went to the extent of making a generalised statement in California, USA when he said that people with dissenting voices were being killed in his country. He forgot that he was speaking to graduates in USA and not on an electioneering trip in the state of Karnataka. A communal incident where the victim is from a minority draws the combined wrath of the lobby but if the victim is from the majority then all of them are as silent as the stones of the Deccan plateau. India’s current tough stand against Pakistan and separatist leaders in Kashmir too is a permanent irritant for the lobby since their fully sponsored foreign jaunts for pointless seminars and conferences have been curtailed as also their regular visits to Pakistan High commission in New Delhi to partake their hospitality on a regular basis.
If the government takes a hard line on giving shelter to Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar because of their well established links with terror outfits in Pakistan and ISIS, the lobby accuses the government of forgetting the humanitarian traditions of India nurtured by past governments and argues why all Rohingyas should suffer. The same lobby has been conspicuously quiet for decades on the forced exodus of over three hundred and fifty thousand Pundits from the Kashmir valley who are bonafide citizens if India and original inhabitants of Kashmir. The recent happenings in Europe or other parts of the world due to increased influx of Muslim refugees and the influence of ISIS are deliberately ignored. They seem to be equally unconcerned to the increased threat perceptions for India and its 1.25 billion people. If a terrorist is killed in Kashmir by the forces, the lobby blames the security forces of using excess force and the government for pushing the youth towards terror. If paid mobs resort to planned and heavy stone pelting, they expect the forces to refrain from using force since stone pelting mobs are nothing but peaceful civilian protestors. If a rioter is killed many from among the lobby will go out of their way to profess solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren but if a soldier loses his life they do not even bat an eyelid. The list is endless and it is surprising that the lobby has nothing good to say ever for the duly elected government.
There is no doubt that BJP and Hinduism cannot be seen in separation. The reasons are more historical than fundamentalist or rightist in nature. But some sections of the society cannot see this simple fact in its correct perspective. Frankly it is rather naive to assume that there is no place for others in BJP. No national political party can afford to ignore over 14% of country’s Muslim population – be it for votes or for development. There is no case, as on date, for claiming that a Hindu dominated India is the objective of BJP. Without a doubt Muslim community has reservations on this issue but most of those are ill founded and baseless. The onus lies on the community to correct their misgivings in their own as well as nation’s interests. Unfortunately the lobby makes sure that no such correction takes place since their bread and butter depends on keeping things on the boil.
The question that begs answers is why is that the lobby is so against the participation of Hindus in main stream India but has no problem when it comes to the rise of minorities? Why should it always be minorities first? Should the Hindus remain passive spectators even if sections of a minority hurt their motherland? The reverse is also equally true where minorities have the same right to react if any section of the majority indulges in acts that do not auger well for the nation. Just as it is true that India cannot really develop unless its minorities become part of the growth story, can India ever hope to scale greater heights in its quest towards development if its 83% Hindu population remains passive, underdeveloped and subdued? The question here is not of dominance or overpowering, the question is about acceptance of the realities of numbers by all and then co-existing based on equality as provided in the constitution. The relentless campaign by the lobby to further the case of appeasement policies of yesteryears and to spread false perceptions about the aspirations of the BJP government makes sure that this goal is never reached.
It is no secret that some Islamic scholars, militant leaders and clerics deliberately misinterpret Islam for selfish motives. Their warped interpretation sends a wrong message about Islam and Muslims – both within and outside the Muslim community. The lobby justifies this under the garb of secularism and freedom of expression while projecting BJP as a rightist Hindu political party. This emboldens fundamentalist Muslim leadership in the country that thrives in maintaining and increasing the divide between the two communities. Over the years they have taken it for granted that the lobby will fight for their cause irrespective of whether they are right or wrong. Nobody is concerned that this is a self destructive approach and does not bode well for the nation. If Indian democracy has to really flourish then every Indian must come forward and be part of the political process in his small way by rising above his religious beliefs. Unfortunately instead of working towards this ideal the lobby does just the opposite.
It is time for the learned members of the lobby to respect peoples’ mandate and accept the reality of the democratically elected BJP government. They must realise the harm that they do to the nation in their quest to show the government in poor light at all times for their selfish motives. It is no one’s case that the current government is doing everything right but it will be equally stupid to presume that it is doing nothing right. ‘Cry Wolf’ by all means but only when there really is a wolf for the sake of being taken seriously. The lobby will be well advised to recall what Mark Twain once said about patriotism and government. He said ‘Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it’.
Saroj Chadha, an engineering professional, is a successful entrepreneur. Having retired from the Indian Army after having served for over 23 years, he has also been a consultant for leading Indian and Multinational electrical companies. He lives in New Delhi.