Media is communal, not Modi
Let us be honest about it. If anyone other than Narendra Modi had used the analogies for which he is being pilloried no end, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal, after all. The usual anti-Modi warriors and the NGO entrepreneurs who have flourished by greatly demonising the Gujarat Chief Minister chose to misread his words simply because it pays to abuse Modi.
Take the first analogy in the Reuters interview. Asked whether he felt remorse for the 2002 riots, Modi sought to convey the clear impression that he could not have remained unaffected by the tragic loss of life. To illustrate the point, he said that even if he was being driven in a car and a puppy came under its wheels, he would feel sad (and here you are talking of human beings). The implication, however, was lost on the anti-Modi legions. They had already concluded that he is the devil incarnate and could not have meant what his words actually implied but what they believed those ought to have implied. Were he to respond to a direct question whether he had a hand in those killings by saying, “I cannot kill even a mosquito…”, the secularist brigade would have jumped on him for comparing Muslims to machchhars.
Modi defines secularism as ‘India First’
The outcry over the second analogy is equally unwarranted. Speaking in Pune before a young audience, he decried the ruling combine in New Delhi for trying to put a tight lid over its terrible record in power. “Whenever the Congress is in trouble, it dons the ‘burqa of secularism’ to hide its humongous acts of omission and commission.
Again, the fusillade of abuse that followed sought to buttress the Modi charge that the entire attempt of the Congress was to sweep its own rotten record in Government under the carpet by harping on ‘secularism will be in peril if Modi comes…’ It was claimed that the use of the word ‘burqa’ reflected Modi’s communal mindset. Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan proclaimed on television that she would not have found Modi’s analogy offensive had he, instead of ‘burqa’, used ‘saree of secularism’.
Why was it communal to hide behind the burqa but secular to hide behind the saree defied logic. But then the way secularism has been abused by its self-professed votaries has only inflicted long-term damage on the targeted minority community whose socio-economic status, despite these secularists having ruled the country for over five decades, has remained abysmally low. For proof, go no further than the Sachar Committee report which was commissioned by the secularist UPA Government.
Incidentally, in the same television debate when the anchor asked if it was ‘secular’ of the Congress to align with the Indian Union Muslim League and, till very recently, with the Hyderabad-based Majlis-e-Ittehaudal Muslimeen (MIM), Natarajan’s silence was eloquent. She refused to respond to a question which sought to lay bare the sheer opportunism that underpinned Congress’s notion of secularism. A couple of months ago, a video tape of a speech by MIM leader, Akbaruddin Owaisi, wherein he had thundered that “if the police kept inside barracks for just two hours, we would take care of all Hindus,” had gone viral on the social media.
By the way, eulogising burqa in this day and age when the entire Muslim community needs to cast aside its ghetto mentality and step into the 21st century to claim its rightful place under the Indian sun shows total unconcern about the actual state of the largest minority community. It reflects an obscurantist mindset, associating Muslims with the fundamentalists who, in order to maintain their stranglehold, seek to block the winds of progress and modernism sweeping through the Islamic world from entering this country, which is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia.
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Virendra Kapoor, a freelance columnist and commentator on current affairs, is a former editor of Free Press Journal, Mumbai. He was also a senior editor of Indian Express, Delhi.