B L Saraf
The celebrities are in a demand. Some would say, a self created one. They flaunt opinion dispensing as the USP. On one side, 49 of them are in the news ; followed by 62 on the other side. Much as group 49 would pose as independent opinion makers, bias against Narendra Modi, however, is too evident to be missed. The language couched in a phraseology – loved by a particular political party – leaves nothing to guess for whom they speak and which ideology they cater to. The habit of opinion dispensing was displayed by the group of a particular brand of celebrities soon after it became evident, in 2013, that Narendra Modi would be the next PM . For these celebrities, the prospect of Modi’s ascendency to the Delhi throne was an Anthemia. Till day, they are not reconciled to what ultimately proved to be the fait acompli. These eminences of the particular brand became judge, jury and the witness, and, without waiting for Modi to commit imaginary ‘crimes’ they started pronouncing him guilty. The more Narendra Modi progressed ahead, with the blessings of country’s electorate, the more this group became brazen and hysterical in demanding his head.
It started on the eve of Bihar Assembly elections of 2015 when likes of these eminences announced their presence with the Award Wapsi Drama . Then theatrics of different nature were displayed, depending up on time and the occasion. They are still on the job, no matter what people of the country spoke through the presence of 350 odd elected representatives in the treasury bench of 2019 Lok Sabha. Thus we have a letter of 49 celebrities writing to the PM conveying their fears over rising ‘ intolerance. In substance they accuse him of all what these eminences and the associated tribe have been airing since 2013. They write” we are deeply concerned about the number of tragic events happening in the country in recent times.” For them” Chanting Jai Shri Ram is a war cry .”
The letter to the PM, penned by group A has spurred the other bunch of 62 celebrities, of equal credentials, (Group B hereinafter) to come up with an open letter : seeking, first, to neutralize Group A with reference to their selective outrage and, secondly, exonerating PM of all what is alleged against him. According to this group the Group A pose as ” self styled guardians and conscience keepers who express selective concerns.” Their letter to the PM is an”attempt to foist a false narrative with an intention to denigrate the democratic ethos and norms of our collective function as a nation and their concern smacks of dishonesty and opportunism.”
Well, it was not for us to say which group has truth on its side. But certainly some questions crop up which one is tempted to pose to the group A and its ilk . That party cadres are getting killed in West Bengal and Kerala who oppose the ruling parties there ; innocent people in Maosit affected areas of the country are butchered by the armed mercenaries . But this group doesn’t feel outraged. Chanting Jai Shri Ram has become an offence in W. Bengal. And none heard any one among these 49 eminences and their fellow travelers raise a voice when KPs were hounded out of Kashmir., lock, stock and barrel. These facts lend some credence to the view that this tribe suffers a selective outrage, only.
We are in a situation where one brand of celebrities is ranged against state – waging a political battle of sorts which essentially falls in the domain of the political parties, sitting in the opposition . And we miss them badly. The main opposition party which has ruled the country for a better part since independence, is comatose lying prostrate as a headless chicken . Well it is not our intention to foreclose right of any citizen to flag the issues of common interest . But it is indeed a sad commentary that pure political issues are out sourced to the NGOs and, in return, NGOs don mantle of the political parties.
But then it must be noted here that 49 eminent persons have raised certain issues which may be taxing mind of someone in the country. It will be ill advised to take them as adversaries, even if they may be. Treat them as messengers. Even if there is a just a grain of truth in the statement it is the duty of the GOI to address it at the earliest. In the larger interests of the nation, the ugly debate must be laid to the rest as soon as possible.
It doesn’t bode well for any government to have someone else to stand up its defense. Lynching of human being – on any pretext – is a despicable crime. The perpetrators must be brought to the justice – speedily and effectively. The Government must pay heed to what Supreme Court has said in a case reported as 2018 (6 ) SCC 72 ; that the authorities which have responsibility to maintain law and order in the states have principal obligation to see vigilantism of any perception doesn’t take place . The court felt constrained to observe ” when any core group with some kind of idea take law into own hands, it ushers in anarchy, chaos, disorder and eventually there is emergence of violent society .” We understand that some action has been initiated by the Government to curb the menace of lynching. It is time for the action to speak.
Any communal activity, real or perceived, hits the image of the country which justifiably aspires to be a world power . A country that wants to have a pride of place in the comity of the nations cannot afford a small dent in its reputation.
P .S Someone has put it very rightly that the 49 celebrities would have done better to the cause of a commoner if the time and effort used by them to coordinate the letter writing business were used to promote communal harmony among various sections of the society. Same advice would be in place for the 62 eminent persons also, who stand ranged in favor of the Government.
It shouldn’t be the game of Yours Versus Mine.
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)
B L Saraf