Senior leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday called the writers’ protest against intolerance in the country a move to embarrass the Narendra Modi government, terming their behaviour partisan and honesty suspect.
Some the nation’s finest writers have returned their awards to the Sahitya Akademi and many more followed by renouncing government-instituted honours such as the Padma Shri to protest the killing of Karnataka rationalist MM Kalburgi and the lynching of a Muslim man at Dadri, Greater Noida.
The RSS, the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, defended the government amid growing criticism that Modi has been giving hardliners a free rein.
British writer Salman Rushdie questioned Modi’s silence on the “thuggish violence” while dismissing criticism by ‘Modi Toadies’.
“We have witnessed the horrors of Emergency when freedom of press and freedom of expression were suppressed and these writers preferred to keep mum. They also kept mum when thousands of Sikhs were butchered in Delhi,” said Sudhir Pathak, an RSS ideologue and in-charge of its Vishwa Samvad Kendra.
He said the protest was a pre-planned move by Left-leaning writers to shame the government when the Bihar assembly elections are on.
Without specifically mentioning the Dadri incident, RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi said similar cases happened in the past but nobody returned their awards then.
He said there was a need to verify the honesty and integrity of writers returning awards as their action was vitiating the atmosphere.
Pathak agreed, accusing the writers of being anti-BJP, anti-RSS diehards who have not been able to come to terms with the BJP coming to power at the Centre as well as several states.
Former RSS activist and now a saffron observer, Dilip Deodhar, endorsed Pathak’s views and called the protesting writers “Left-intellectuals” plotting to destabilise the BJP-led NDA government. “These writers are still carrying the Nehruvian model of literature and culture … This is unacceptable.”
He wondered why literary awards were not returned after Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Pune when the Congress ruled the state and Maoists murdered thousands of citizens and security personnel.