Vehemently rejecting the charge that the Congress and Leftists were behind their protest against “growing intolerance”, writers and artists on Sunday alleged that the ruling BJP was unable to “control its mobs”, with one of them even comparing RSS to Islamic militant group IS.
They also took umbrage to Union minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks dubbing the protest as “manufactured rebellion”, questioning how he could make such a claim when the President, many business leaders as well as common people have joined in voicing concern over the “disturbing” trend.
The writers, artists, thinkers and academics had gathered in New Delhi on Sunday for a “resistance” meet (Pratirodh) against what they described as “attack on reason, democracy and composite culture”.
A minute’s silence was kept by gathering for three slain rationalists MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.
“In its inability to control its mobs, the only comeback that the BJP has is to describe the protesters as Leftists or instigated by the Congress party.
“Many of us are Leftists but many of us are not Leftists. What the protest is about is the need for a liberal space and this being emphasised again and again,” historian Romila Thapar said.
In his speech, historian Irfan Habib said, “...There is not much difference between Islamic State (IS) and the RSS (BJP’s ideological parent) as far intellect goes.”
Noted poet Ashok Vajpeyi, who was among at least 37 writers those who had returned their state awards in protest against the alleged “rising intolerance” in the country, referred to recent allegations by ministers including by finance minister Arun Jaitley terming the protests by writers “manufactured”.
“The President, the Reserve Bank Governor and leading industrialist Narayan Murthy have joined this manufactured politics. Some of us had returned our awards and now the number has crossed 40. And we are being accused of practising manufactured politics.
“Sir, the politics of hatred, violence, killing and ignorance is being manufactured by you,” he alleged.
The intensified attack by the writers came on the day Jaitley filed a fresh salvo to counter the protest, accusing Congress, Left thinkers and activists of practising “ideological intolerance” towards the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.