My faith is a source of support for me, not a cause for me labelling, judging or hating anybody else. My faith has taught me to embrace differences, to celebrate imperfection and to accept everyone the way they are.
Aakar Patel’s column Aakarvani in The Times of India, March 12th 2017 says….”Hindutva is pure poison and this is not in doubt”. There appears to be a need to understand what does Hindutva mean? Since both, Mr. Patel and I are ‘real Indian citizen’ (again a quote from his article), it would be fair to assume that we would respect the judgement of the highest court in the land.
In a 1995 judgement, the Supreme Court of India ruled that, “Ordinarily, Hindutva is understood as a way of life or state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism…it is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption…that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practising any religion other than the Hindu religion…”
So, what exactly is poisonous about Hindutva, Mr. Patel? The poison is not in Hindutva, the poison is in the minds of people like you who play a game of divisiveness to create fault lines in a country that is as diverse as India.
Mr. Patel further says, “The choice for my parents in Surat is between voting for one RSS fellow (Vijay Rupani of BJP) and another RSS fellow (Shankersinh Vaghela of Congress)”…but I fail to understand the issue behind this? Shouldn’t the choice for any citizen be between good and bad governance, between honesty and corruption, between meritocracy and nepotism?
If the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls are any indication, the people do seem to have taken a decisive step towards governance, development and progress. No amount of pre-poll alliances, caste combinations, sops can explain the saffron sweep of the state had there not been a larger and credible narrative of change. Moreover, let us not forget – that ultimately saffron is a colour, just a colour – the way green is. Colours don’t threaten.
To go back to. Patel’s article, he says “It is difficult to think of political parties in civilised societies that deliberately reject a group of citizens…..not even one ticket to Muslims, not even tokenism from Modi, and the cadre love it.”
Well, going by the election analysis printed in the same edition of ToI, there are 59 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh where Muslims form a dominant or decisive proportion of the population. Out of these 59 constituencies, BJP has won 39 in 2017. While a micro-analysis of the voting pattern in each of these 39 constituencies is not known, it is fair to simplistically assume that at least a fraction of the Muslims in these constituencies voted for the BJP candidate.
It may be possible that they were willing to have a non-Muslim representative in the hope of getting good governance, increased employment opportunities and the chance at bettering their lives. Since when has religion (either of the voter or of the politician) become a guarantee of performance? Religion has been much abused by all parties in order to consolidate their minority vote banks…but has the lot of any minority improved despite decades of rule by pseudo-secular parties like the Congress at the centre and SP, BSP at the State level?
Furthermore, it seems that. Patel would rather have PM Modi do ‘tokenism’ (defined as the practice of making only a symbolic effort to do a particular thing) than actually delivering. My submission to Patel is to quickly delve into the history of Independent India. Indian politicians love tokenism (ranging from Indira Gandhi’s garibi hatao war cry to Mamta Banerjee’s cotton saree and rubber chappal look), but none of these ever translated into more money in the hands of the common man, more empowerment to the Indian citizen or simply less harassment at the hand of the ‘all-mighty sarkar’.
If today, the PM shuns tokenism and talks about performance, it is to be lauded.
A request to Patel: Please do not try and take this country back ten years, when it was being bled dry under the guise of ‘coalition compulsions’ as stated by the then PM, Manmohan Singh. It is amazing how reputed journalists like you did not find anything wrong in Manmohan Singh admitting that in order to save his prime-minister ‘gaddi’ , he allowed his coalition partners to loot their ministries as much as they could (remember the 3G scam? The coal mine scam? The Commonwealth scam?).
On the other hand, there haven’t been any scams of this magnitude since 2014. The narrative of the last two years has been largely positive apart from the Left-led student politics issues (that surprisingly always coincide with Assembly elections).
Mr. Patel, you may agree or disagree with my views. The country that I belong to- India – is very tolerant. The way of life that I follow – Hindutva- is very tolerant. You and I could have very different views and still co-exist peacefully. You may choose to vote for Congress, for SP, for anybody else…that’s your right. Please exercise it and make a difference. But please do not use your privileged position as a senior journalist to spread mis-information and hatred. India belongs to you and me both…lets collectively look beyond religion…and see all the other myriad ways that unite us. Maybe then we also can start doing our duty for nation building.
At the risk of being labelled a Hindu fanatic, I end my letter …