Social activist Agnivesh on Saturday said that Narendra Modi’s disapproval of the remarks of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur on Nathuram Godse are insufficient and “lack conviction”. Modi had said on Friday that he would never forgive Thakur for calling Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, a patriot.
“Going by what has happened over the last five years and his intriguing tolerance of the intolerable of a like kind from several of his colleagues, this seems more an image-repairing exercise than a genuine expression of disapproval,” Agnivesh said. He added that Thakur would not have made such statements if she knew that it would not endear her to the BJP’s senior leaders.
The social activist said that if Modi wanted to stop Thakur’s loose statements, he would have spoken out when the Hindutva leader said Hemant Karkare, the former Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad chief, died in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks because she cursed him.
“The fact of the matter is that Hindutva, of which Modi is an ardent votary, is an ideology of violence,” Agnivesh said. “The assassination of the Mahatma was a symbolic assertion of this ideology over the spirit of India.” He alleged that the prime minister has “foisted on India a nationwide outlook of unprecedented intolerance”. Agnivesh said even the Election Commission has been “nakedly partisan” during the Lok Sabha polls.
Agnivesh said that the “wounds” created by the politics of communal polarisation of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah will take decades to heal. “It is far more honest for those who believe communal politics to be valid and valuable to assert that Godse, and not Mahatma Gandhi, should be the icon of India,” he said.
“Even as the BJP serves notice on Ms Thakur, the people of India need to serve notice on Shah and Modi,” the social activist added.
Results for the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections are due on May 23.
MODI’S EXPRESSION OF DISAPPROVAL LACKS CONVICTION
It is not enough for Modi, poised as he is on the verge of an indecisive verdict and, therefore, of the need to garner support from sundry regional parties of diverse views, to express disapproval of the display of extreme public distaste by Pragya Thakur. Going by what has happened over the last five years and his intriguing tolerance of the intolerable of a like kind from several of his colleagues, this seems more an image-repairing exercise than a genuine expression of disapproval. A political novice like Ms. Thakur would not have indulged in these provocative public utterances unless she believed firmly that they harmonized with the temper of BJP and that they would endear her to the party bosses.
It is hard to resist the thought that Pragya Thakur was brought in, overlooking her utter lack of political merit and public respect, precisely to polarize the voters communally and to disturb our secular, democratic ethos. That she could claim, immediately after her nomination, to reduce to ashes a martyr like Hemant Karkare with the power of her curse, was not a stray statement, but a trailer to what she actually stood for. If Modi had wanted to curb the archaic incivilities of this person, he would have spoken out then. He did not. Not only that. In the past some of his hand-picked associates -Anantkumar Hegde, Giri Raj Singh- have issued statements clearly jarring on national ethos but have continued to enjoy Modi’s trust and support. BJP MPs who endorsed the view that Godse is a patriot, implying that Gandhiji is a traitor to India, and that murderous violence directed even against the Father of the Nation is legitimate, remain in favour.
The fact of the matter is that Hindutva, of which Modi is an ardent votary, is an ideology of violence. The assassination of the Mahatma was a symbolic assertion of this ideology over the spirit of India. Modi has, during his tenure, foisted on India a nation-wide outlook of unprecedented intolerance, extra-constitutional and targeted anarchy on those disliked by his party, and loaded the public space with palpable fear. The fact that crucial institutions like the Election Commission of India have behaved the way they have, are clinching proofs of this. No Election Commission has ever been so nakedly partisan as the present one. The right to dissent, and to have the dissent taken note of, has been denied to even a member of the Commission. Fear, I believe, is the clue to the functioning of this Commission.
Modi and his political master Amit Shah have done nothing so far to make anyone in this country feel that for them there is a principle higher than winning elections and electorally wiping out political hindrances to them. Pragya Thakur’s statements about Hemant Karkare and Godse aren’t any more harmful to India than the politics of communal polarization and hate that the Modi-Shah duo have unleashed on the country. The wounds created will take decades to heal. It is far more honest for those who believe communal politics to be valid and valuable to assert that Godse, and not Mahatma Gandhi, should be the icon of India. Pragya Thakur’s lack of deviousness is, if anything, less harmful than balkanizing the soul of India with politics of hate and covering up this national atrocity with deceptive rhetorical flourishes of a deflective intent.
Even as the BJP serves notice on Ms. Thakur, the people of India need to serve notice on Shah and Modi, demanding an explanation for hurting the country and for poisoning her public and political culture as they have. It is my earnest hope that this spiral of national corruption will end by the 23rd of May and that our country will earn for itself a time of healing to detoxify itself from what has been injected into it, not by accident but by cold-blooded design, over the last five years.