Opinions

Police Sub-Inspector rises, while chairman of National Minorities Commission sleeps and Pranab hides

Foremost, my salam to Sub-Inspector Gagandeep Singh who not just saved a human life in Uttarakhand’s Ramnagar but also showed that a cop’s first and basic duty is to protect, no matter what the ruling political mafia is up to! If there’s even the slightest sense of fair-play left in the administrative system, this young police officer ought to be publicly honoured with a bravery award. After all, he single-handedly took on a communally surcharged mob to protect a hapless victim of divisive hatred.

And quite on the contrary, you have the chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi, sitting rather too comfortably in his air-conditioned office, uttering well-scripted hollow words along the strain that the Modi government was working for everyone… no discriminations along religious lines, no atmosphere of fear, all going fine with the minorities of India!

No shocker, after all. It’s a known fact the Rizvi had campaigned for Narendra Modi in the Varanasi elections in 2014. With that, he was well rewarded. Placed that he is on that high slot! Coming up with whatever is perhaps getting ordered by his Right-Wing bosses.

Last week Rizvi had come up with an ‘all’s okay’ comment in the backdrop of Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto’s stating rather loud and clear that there’s a turbulent political atmosphere prevailing in the country which posed a threat to the very democratic principles…in fact, Couto had written a letter to all parish priests in the Delhi archdiocese before the Karnataka elections, calling for a ‘prayer campaign’ ahead of the 2019 general elections.

And though he was verbally attacked on television channels but he didn’t give in to the rounds of bullying. He stood strong and determined -- simply saying that he was speaking the truth. Nothing but the truth.How very honest and hitting were Anil Couto’s words.

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And as the former President of India, Congressman Pranab Mukherjee, is getting ready to travel down to Nagpur to address the RSS recruits on 7 June, I want to ask him a few basics: Has he read books on the communal ideology of the RSS? Has he read about the divisive politics unleashed by the RSS? Is he aware of the destructive capabilities of the Right-Wing outfits manned directly or indirectly by the RSS?

In fact, as news came in of Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to address the RSS recruits, I sat back to re-read his latest book The Coalition Years -1996-2012 (Rupa) to see if I could find traces of his leanings to the Right-Wing in the pages of his book.

I had reviewed this book last autumn, shortly after it was launched, and what I had found to be more than disappointing was the fact that certain specific communal happenings like the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 had been left out …no mention of that pogrom in any of the chapters of this book .This, when the Gujarat pogrom is considered one of those turning points in the recent history of India which heralded the blatant rise of the fascist forces in India and the disastrous offshoots.

Perhaps, as a seasoned politician, Pranab Mukherjee didn’t want to dwell on political killings and massacres done by his fellow politicians. No dragging out skeletons from political cupboards, no revealing of the behind-the-scene plotting, no clearing haze from the murky build-ups, no queries or accusations heaped on those sitting in the Opposition.

In fact, as I had mentioned in my review of this book, the entire book reads like file jottings, polished and spruced up to take the shape of a book. Though he has been a witness to the political scenario in the country but there is not just a lack of passion in his writings but also lack of his view and viewpoints on various political buildups of that phase – 1996 to 2012. This, when right from the mid-1990s, India has been witnessing changing political patterns with the rise of the Right-Wing parties.

He could have taken us back-stage, to the backgrounders, to the happenings on the political scenario. After all, he was in the thick of it for decades – he entered Parliament at the age of thirty-four and rose to become the 13th President of India… During his political years, he held various important portfolios in the Central government -- Defence, External Affairs, Commerce and Finance. He was also elected to the Rajya Sabha five times and twice to the Lok Sabha and he was also member of the Congress Working Committee for 23 years.

In his book, Pranab Mukherjee does not also dwell on his days at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The book closes with these lines: ‘We left the Central Hall in a procession as before, and reached gate no. 5. This time it was I who took the Rashtriya Salute of the President’s bodyguard and then boarded the car. I sat on the right and the outgoing President Pratibha Patil, sat on the left. I was seen off by the Vice President, the Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India. In the return procession, I greeted Sonia Gandhi and other leaders, governors, chief ministers and other guests…Thereafter, the outgoing President was given a farewell salute by the President’s Bodyguard. Both of us boarded the car, which took her to her new residence in New Delhi. Subsequently, I returned to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and went upstairs to the Dwarka Suite adjacent to Nalanda Suite - the first one for me and the second one for Mrs Mukherjee - and started my first day in Rashtrapati Bhavan. My entry into Rashtrapati Bhavan on 25 July 2012 marked the end of my 46-year-old political career which began in February 1966. It had indeed been a long and arduous journey.’

How I wish Pranab Mukherjee had given us, the readers, glimpses if not details of his days as President of India. I do realize the book ends in 2012, but he was appointed President of India in summer of 2012 and so even those five months could have provided ample base for some of those experiences as President of India.

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