What if Shiv Sena had sought a 'nativist policy'?

A BJP MLA, K Lakshman, one of hundreds of MLAs affiliated to the party and way down the pecking order, makes a poorly-articulated comment questioning Telangana CM Kalvakuntla Chandrasekar Rao’s decision to appoint tennis star Sania Mirza as the ‘brand ambassador’ of the State.

Our sanctimonious ‘national media’, oozing self-righteous indignation, seizes upon it to berate K Lakshman, slander the BJP, tar the Right, and make it abundantly clear that there’s a new Moral Brigade keeping watch on all and sundry: The Left-liberal McCarthyists are here.

Frankly, for most of us it is irrelevant whom Kalvakuntla Chandrasekar Rao, better known as ‘KCR’, appoints as Telangana’s ‘brand ambassador’ or how much he pays the person for promoting the State at home and abroad. Tax-payers living in Telangana are free to question the decision, even contest it. It’s a story at best for the local media. There’s nothing more to it than that.

Yet for the past 48 hours we have been subjected to a relentless barrage of cockamamie concern and thundering opinion on how K Lakshman, who must be rattled by the fact that he made it to the front page of newspapers and primetime news, has erred in questioning the credentials of Sania Mirza. Lost in the din is the story of a school bus colliding with a train at an un-manned railway crossing in Telangana, killing 25 children.

Real life issues, for instance this terrible accident which demonstrates how casually we shrug off the loss of human lives, neither grab eyeballs nor fetch ratings. So they get ignored while we are treated to monkey chatter and bogus commentary on Sania Mirza’s credentials.

Strangely, or perhaps not, the Virtuous Army of the Righteous that controls media has glossed over politically significant developments in Telangana, issues that are of far greater consequence and national import than a Chief Minister’s fascination for a tennis star.

We haven’t heard a pip squeak from the commentariat on KCR’s appalling ‘nativist policy’ for students or his plan to introduce ‘citizenship cards’ for ‘citizens’ of Telangana.

Nor has the commentariat, ever so swift to pick on stray inanities, rebuked his daughter Kavitha, who represents Nizamabad in the Lok Sabha, for her absurd assertion that “Telangana was forcibly annexed” by India and “our troubles have started since then”.

A strange silence has been maintained on Kavitha’s patently provocative statement, calculated to recall and rekindle Hyderabad’s defiance. But more on this later. Since comment is free, it would be perfectly legitimate to suggest that media’s stunning silence on KCR’s proposed ‘nativist policy’ is at once criminal and collusive.

The policy seeks to deny tax-funded privileges to students who cannot prove that their families have been residents of Telangana since 1956 when the region was merged to form Andhra Pradesh.

In brief, it is a cut-off based on the percepts of narrow parochialism. The ‘son of the soil’ policy, deplorable as it is, could never have been articulated in a more vile manner.

Till now there has been no condemnation, no demand that KCR abandon this ruinous path that segregates Indians from Indians. What if the Shiv Sena had imposed such a cut-off year? Would media have remained equally silent? Why do we then rage against the Ranbir Code of Jammu & Kashmir?

Or call for ridding our system of restrictive domiciliary rules? Had the Akali Dal proposed ‘citizenship cards’ for the ‘citizens’ of Punjab, or if the Khalistan movement were to be revived on the specious plea that Sikhs form a separate nation, would media have bitten its tongue?

What Kavitha has said is no different from that. She has asserted that “Telangana was not part of India before 1947… It was a separate nation… we were forcibly annexed.”

No, that’s was not a stray comment. It was said with a purpose, and the purpose was indicated in what she had to say about J&K: “Few parts of Kashmir are not ours and we need to redraw international borders.”

The significance of what she said was surely not lost on our Virtuous Army of the Righteous. It couldn’t have been. For evidence, look at how the Pakistani media has taken notice of Kavitha’s statement.

Hyderabad’s inclusion in the Indian Union against the wishes of a devious Nizam and his ruthless razakars, it would seem, is not a settled issue. Or else KCR wouldn’t want a ‘nativist policy’ and ‘citizenship cards’ for Telangana, and his daughter wouldn’t be contesting the permanence of Hyderabad’s merger.

The writer is an NCR-based journalist. His Twitter handle is @KanchanGupta

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