Ranjona Banerji: Attack the secular and the liberal

Published: 13 December, 2017 06:14 IST | Ranjona Banerji | Mumbai

Because any nationalistic Indian is sectarian and communal, and will applaud Modi's claim that all parties, except the BJP, collude with Pak

In 2014, it was "Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas". By the end of 2017, "With Everyone and Development for all" has been forgotten. Nay, not just forgotten, but abandoned by the wayside, tortured and discarded. Narendra Modi, while campaigning in Gujarat, stated that a meeting was held at Congress member Mani Shankar Aiyar's home in Delhi, where Congress leaders, including former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, colluded with Pakistan that Ahmed Patel be made the chief minister of Gujarat.

We are expected to forget these moves to further divide the people of India as Modi flies off to one more foreign land. Pic/PTI
We are expected to forget these moves to further divide the people of India as Modi flies off to one more foreign land. Pic/PTI

You could laugh this off as absurd. Or you could examine the innuendo carefully. The prime minister has informed the nation that a former prime minister of India has worked with a neighbour, which does not have our best interests at heart, to make a Muslim politician the chief minister of Gujarat. If you are fooled by this, make no mistake, no Muslim is fooled and nor are the people of Gujarat. For as long as Modi was chief minister of that state, this sort of accusation was common from him. Modi alone was the man who could 'save' Hindus from Muslims.

This week in Rajasthan, a man was hacked to death and then burned by another, filmed by a 14-year-old child, to send a lesson to Muslims that this is what would happen to them if 'love jihad' continued. The man killed in this brutal manner was Muslim, the murderer was Hindu and proud of it. Has the prime minister of India uttered a word on this incident? Of course not.

So far, we have heard two extre­mely mealy-mouthed comments from Modi about the violence of 'cow protector' vigilante criminals and that too only when Dalits were attacked. Akhlak, Pehlu Khan, Junaid and now Afrazul, all fodder to the great Indian sectarian 'fringe'.

'Secular' and 'liberal' are the two great insults of today's India. Because any nationalistic Indian would naturally be sectarian and communal. He or she would applaud Modi's claim that political parties other than the BJP would obviously be in collusion with Pakistan to ensure, horror of horrors, that a Muslim man would become the chief minister of a state.

As you peel away layers of the prime minister's remark, he is stating that Singh, General Deepak Kapoor (retired army chief) and senior retired diplomats discussed how to fiddle the Gujarat elections with a former foreign minister of Pakistan. Modi has also implied in these elections that Manmohan Singh did not attack Pakistan after the Mumbai 2008 terror attacks at "someone's behest". If all this is true, it seems tantamount to treason. Does the prime minister have proof, and is the government going to take any action about it?

Or, more likely, this is one more attempt to polarise the electorate. We saw it in Uttar Pradesh, when the prime minister asked the people if they wanted a government that gave them Hindu burning ghats or Muslim cemeteries for their dead. After that, we are supposed to forget this move to further divide the people of India as Modi flies off to one more foreign land.

The excuses that Modi's various fans will make is that Modi is upset because Mani Shankar Aiyar called Modi a "low level" person. However, Modi is the prime minister of India. How far will he take this needless remark, no matter how provocative he may have found it? To the extent of further destroying India's social fabric? Is it worth so much?

As far as India's neighbourhood is concerned, we cannot but try to engage with Pakistan, and Modi and his government know this very well. He himself has tried and, in fact, in normal bombastic manner, claimed he would sort out that relationship once and for all. We have all seen how far that has worked, unscheduled stops for birthday parties and allowing Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence into the Pathankot air base, apart.

How much does truth matter in this sort of world? Manmohan Singh has written a very strong letter to Modi, demanding an apology, which he is unlikely to get. General Deepak Kapoor and several others at the party - it was not a 'meeting' - have said that the Gujarat elections were not discussed.

I do not know how Gujarat will vote. But what I do know is that to win, Modi has dropped all pretence of being the prime minister of India. The heavy price for that will be paid by us.

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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