To question, to rebel, that’s being Indian | ht view | Hindustan Times
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To question, to rebel, that’s being Indian

Parties may differ from each other politically and ideologically but can still be respectful towards one another

ht view Updated: Mar 21, 2014 00:14 IST

Comparing Narendra Modi to Hitler may put the Congress in a fix soon. If Modi becomes PM, should all those who voted for him stand a Nuremberg-like trial? Are Indians electing a ‘Hitler’ as their next PM? Is it prudent to treat political opponents as enemies? We may differ in ideologies but should that mean our commitment to India can be questioned?

If for an alleged land grab under his regime Modi is ‘Hitler’, to whom should we compare Jawaharlal Nehru, under whom India lost 125,000 sq km of Kashmir and Aksai Chin to Pakistan and China, respectively? When Rahul Gandhi entered politics, I was among the first to welcome him. Nitin Gadkari, in his first press meet after becoming BJP president, wished Rahul Gandhi well.

The emergence of Modi, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Uddhav and Raj Thackeray, Arvind Kejriwal, etc, should be taken as a welcome sign for Indian democracy. It shows the vibrancy and the plural, participatory character of our polity. We may differ with them, attack them on their failures and policies and show decisively that we are better than them. The fact that the next generation of India is taking over and feeling confident to stake claim to form the government, trying new initiatives and enriching the public discourse with new idioms and language is enough to assure the people that none can play with the strong democratic foundations of our Constitution and be authoritarian.

A million flowers with a billion fragrances is what Indian democracy should mean. While I was editor, Panchjanya, we were a bit harsh on Sonia Gandhi. One day we got a call from then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee. He said: “Vijay ji, hamari vichardhara ke liye vipakshi par vyaktigat prahaar uchit nahin, neetiyon aur asafaltaon par jee bhar kar likhiye (it’s not good for us to attack our opponents personally, criticise as much as you like on policies and failures).” That’s what made him a statesman.

Often hatred for the opponent overshadows discretion. In Patna, while the BJP-JD(U) alliance was on, during our national executive meeting, we were invited by Nitish Kumar to his residence to dinner. Suddenly the Modi advertisement (an advertisement showing Modi and Kumar, which angered the latter) issue cropped up and just two hours before the dinner, it was cancelled. Kumar could have shown his annoyance in a better way.

I often wonder if we, BJP members, have no hesitation in offering flowers at the portraits of Nehru or Indira Gandhi on their birthdays in Parliament and if LK Advani attended the last rites of our ideological opponent EMS Namboodiripad, why have Congress leaders made it a rule not to attend the birthday observance of Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Parliament?

Anarchy, undisciplined behaviour, noises and brickbats are all part of a greater framework of constitutionalism, but should remain within the limits of mutual respect without being abusive and extremist in expressions. Unfortunately the virus of using bad language has spread all over — without exception, though many of them have shown the decency to express regret later.

The question is: Why should we even think of making everyone like us? Why make everyone say what we want to hear and have them support whom we like? Let people judge us on our programmes, listen to us and vote. Brutal uniformity and monotonous culture are an anti-thesis of the Indian ethos. It’s against the tenets of the Hindu dharma. To be different, rebellious and questioning is being quintessentially Indian.

Tarun Vijay is a Rajya Sabha MP

The views expressed by the author are personal