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People are free and fast with their accusations

The BJP government has taken all this on the chin, and continues to deliver on its promise of good governance

analysis Updated: Sep 13, 2018 12:20 IST
Hardeep S Puri
Hardeep S Puri
The very fact that this ecosystem can so clearly misuse their freedom of speech by spreading fabricated stories shows that the present establishment is not in the least bit authoritarian(Getty Images)

The terms fascist and fascism are currently being bandied about. Leaders of Opposition parties, human rights activists, and ostensibly eminent journalists, are prone to making such accusations against those in authority, without perhaps fully comprehending what the term means. The time has come to shine a light on who actually is a fascist, and who is not. Sunlight, as they say, is a good disinfectant.

The president of the Indian National Congress uses terms such as fascist ideology and authoritarian interchangeably. Rahul Gandhi might like to acquaint himself with four developments in recent history that shaped the evolution of his party and India’s democracy. First, the curtailing of civil liberties in 1975, the darkest moment in the history of independent India. To forcefully sterilise individuals, lock up journalists, arrest political leaders, and undermine the judiciary, is the defining legacy of that period. Rahul Gandhi is a direct beneficiary of a system produced by the policies of his grandmother that placed dynasty before nation.

Second, the riots in 1984 following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. It is an insult to the minority Sikh community to which I belong that Mr Gandhi remains in denial of the atrocities committed by Congressmen. He conveniently says that he was merely 14 years old when the massacre took place. He is much older now. It is clear from the statement of his father (“When a big tree falls, the earth shakes”) and now his own denial, that under their watch, the perpetrators of the heinous crimes of 1984 have found a safe haven.

Third, much has been made about Sonia Gandhi’s “sacrifice” in 2004, when she decided that Manmohan Singh would be India’s prime minister, and not she. What seems to have been conveniently forgotten is the fact that, the constitution of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) was amended to create a post more powerful than the chairperson of the CPP for Sonia Gandhi. This allowed her to hold unconstitutional power — it introduced into our polity a system of diarchy in which a nominated prime minister was to run a government without having political authority. Singh served at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi, making the UPA a remote-controlled sarkar.

And finally, the undermining of the Dalit cause that Congress has spearheaded over much of the past seven decades. It might be useful for Rahul Gandhi to remember that Prime Minister Modi himself belongs to a backward community. While members of his party take great pride in referring to him in derogatory terms, the BJP is proud of the fact that he is from humble origins, without a famous surname, and can be democratically chosen as prime minister. And it is thanks to his efforts that the Dalit community is today the master of its own destiny, and not at the mercy of the Congress. Through the government’s various missions, PM Modi has chosen to empower the Dalit community, rather than seek their votes through fake victimhood.

Rahul Gandhi is not alone in spreading falsehoods. He has been joined by individuals who pretend to be activists, but are at their core political actors. Their aim is to undermine the state, and derail any effort made towards development. Arundhati Roy is one such individual. Her most recent attack against the government comes in the wake of the arrests of individuals the Pune police suspect of aiding the Maoist and Naxalite movement.

Naxalism is India’s biggest internal security threat. Its objective is an armed rebellion against the Indian state and the overthrowing of its democratic polity. State capture through an armed struggle is qualitatively different from the expression of dissent. To proudly claim “I am an Urban Naxal”, therefore, does great disservice to our security forces, many of who have died fighting Naxalism.

Roy’s hypocrisy, however, doesn’t stem from her support for Naxalites; she has been consistent in this regard. At a press conference on the arrests made in Pune, she propagates the lies spread by the Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale deal. When did Roy and Rahul Gandhi become allies? Roy needs to be reminded that it was Rahul Gandhi’s party that had first come down hard against Naxals. P Chidambaram is on record suggesting the use of air power against Naxalites, in the aftermath of a brutal attack in 2010, that claimed the lives of 76 security personnel.

The purpose of this article is not to pick on specific individuals. It is to expose an ecosystem that would like people to believe their lies, to mask their hypocrisy. The very fact that this ecosystem can so clearly misuse their freedom of speech by spreading fabricated stories shows that the present establishment is not in the least bit authoritarian. I would, in fact, argue that this dispensation has faced more scrutiny than any previous government. And, more importantly, no prime minister has been critiqued as often, and as bitterly, as Modi. The government has taken such accusations on its chin, and continued to deliver on its promise of good governance.

Hardeep S Puri is Union minister of state (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 12:20 IST