No event of any importance in India is complete without a goof-up,” writes Ramachandra Guha in his book India after Gandhi, citing the chaos during the swearingin ceremony of ministers that took place just after the Britishers left the country. Six decades after Independence, leaders of all political parties continue with the legacy of chaos and create controversies after every major event. The latest being the attack on Vice President Hamid Ansari for not participating in the Yoga Day celebrations organised at Rajpath in New Delhi on 21 June. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav had questioned Ansari’s absence at the event through his Twitter handle. However, later, he had to retract his own tweets and the AYUSH ministry had to apologise to the vice president after getting to know that Ansari was not invited to the event in the first place. By the time the clarification came, damage had already been done. Social media enthusiasts had already run a campaign against Ansari on Facebook and Twitter, similar to the one carried out by them on the occasion of the Republic Day this year only to realise later that vice president was only following the right protocol by not saluting the Tricolour while the National Anthem was being played.
Ironically, Ram Madhav, the chief architect behind the BJP-PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, remained silent over the PDP’s decision not to observe the yoga day in Jammu and Kashmir. The selective and continuous targeting of Ansari, known for maintaining the dignity of his office, by the BJP and RSS sympathisers has only vitiated the atmosphere.
Omar Abdullah, leader of National Conference and former chief minister of J&K, tells Tehelka: “The attack on the vice president has been an embarrassment to Ram Madhav and his own party. It seems like a desperate attempt to project the vice president’s absence on the occasion to instigate the masses against him, aware of the fact that a person of Ansari’s stature will not react to such cheap rhetoric.”
“Their silence over the PDP’s non observance (of the yoga day) only proves that this day was used by the BJP in connivance with the PDP only to strengthen their brand of communal politics and had nothing to do with promoting yoga in general.” Omar adds.
Following the controversy, Congress and other Opposition parties registered their protests. A senior Congress leader and former minister, Jairam Ramesh, says, “Communal polarisation is the only thing that Modi, Amit Shah and Ram Madhav know…. Whatever the BJP and the PM do is aimed at communal polarisation.” Ramesh goes on to ask whether Ansari is being selectively targeted by the BJP because he is a Muslim.
The unholy practice of needlessly attacking innocent people puts spotlight back on the US cable leaked by WikiLeaks had claimed about Arun Jaitley. According to the cable, finance minister in a private conversation with American diplomats in 2005 had said that Hindu nationalism will always be a talking point for the BJP and it will remain an opportunistic issue. Earlier this year, they employed a similar policy with regard to beef ban, whereby states such as Goa and Northeastern states were exempted from the ban while Maharashtra and Haryana were barred from selling the meat.
The prime minister has repeatedly said that he would not tolerate any remark that would hurt the sentiments of any community, particularly minorities in the wake of vitriolic comments from various saffron leaders such as Giriraj Kishore, Yogi Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj and many others. Despite such warnings, leaders of his party continue with their hate campaigns, the recent one being directed against the vice president.
Interestingly, Ram Madhav continues to be silent over the PDP’s decision not to observe the yoga day in the state, even after his visit to Jammu and Kashmir following the Ansari controversy. This would only allow his opponents to breath down his neck for some more time over the issue.