Intellectuals split over pro-NDA ad
An advertisement with 30 odd litterateurs and artistes urging people to vote for Vajpayee and the NDA has created a stir in the intellectual circuit.
An advertisement with 30 odd litterateurs and artistes urging people to vote for Vajpayee and the NDA has created a stir in the intellectual circuit. Many intellectuals have condemned this ad saying that many of those named in the advertisements were Padma awardees who were just returning a favour to the Vajpayee government.
"They might be awardees. But are they really intellectuals? An intellectual is beyond any party, especially a party like the BJP," said noted filmmaker Syed Mirza.
He said that such intellectuals were mere court jesters, who having dined at the high table (getting the award), had to pay their dues and sing odes to the king (Vajpayee).
However, some intellectuals felt that people were free to express their personal views. "If they believe in the political philosophy of the party why can't they appeal?" asked Nabanita Deb Sen, a Padmashree awardee.
Javed Akhtar lashed out at those named in the ad saying: "Supporting the BJP and being an intellectual are contradictory. The BJP is desperate and hence they are using all kinds of ploys such as these advertisements. An intellectual's responsibility should be towards democracy and the Constitution. RSS chief Sudarshan's statement in Kolhapur recently that he does not believe in democracy exposes all these people, the parivar and their front, the BJP."
Sonal Mansingh, a Padma Vibhushan awardee and one of those named in the ad, said that everyone had the right to support whichever party they wanted. "By supporting the NDA I am not condoning the Gujarat riots as is being said. In that case what about all the riots during the Congress regime?" she asked.
The use of Padma awards as titles in the ad has led to further controversy as the government had issued a circular last year saying that none of the awardees were to use the awards as titles attached to their names.
Mansingh said that the use of the award as a title was not her doing. I don’t use it. Those who released the ad must have done it," she said.
Similarly Padmashri awardee Padma Sachdev, a Dogri writer, said she was happy to seek support for Vajpayee. "I am a great fan of Atalji," she said.
Sexologist and Padmashri awardee Dr Prakash Kothari laughed off the whole stir. "Maybe these people named in the ad actually believe that the NDA can lead the country towards progress," he said.