Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
There is a parliamentary ritual, a customary courtesy of the government represented by the parliamentary affairs minister made right before beginning of each session of this august body. Under this custom the parliamentary affairs minister goes to every member of the opposition and tells them about the agenda, seeking their cooperation. The minister repeats the ritual every time a bill is passed or budget is to be presented.
Before the beginning of the current winter session a few days ago, a larger contingent of senior cabinet ministers tried to do this ritual as the PM invited former PM Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi to his residence for a chat over tea, requesting cooperation on crucial legislation like a new tax law (goods and services tax, GST) and land acquisition law.
The ruling coalition has been asking for cooperation, but the opposition had been demanding that they would do that only if the whole Parliament passed a resolution condemning the spate of growing violence and intolerance.
Before the launch of the winter session the government side agrees to “discuss” intolerance, but it refused to get a resolution of condemnation passed by Parliament. In the interest of a democratic consensus the opposition agreed. Now the point is, why did not the government side agree to the proposal for a resolution of condemnation?
As I had pointed out in my last article, the government has not so far been able to make a mark in any area, not even on the reforms it had promised. Tax and banking reforms being essential for business and economic growth, and land acquisition being crucial for Make in India programme, the government needed the opposition support. It would not have agreed to even discuss intolerance in Parliament had it not been in such dire need, because it does not accept that there is any intolerance in society.
It fights shy of even accepting that there is any intolerance because behind every act of such hooliganism only Sangh men and women are there, which includes MPs like Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Prachi and other sants and mahants. It is not only the Hindutva foot soldiers and rabble rousers who are doing it, but even the BJP president and government ministers. They are providing the gist for the murderous machine. Like the BJP President Amit Shah said in Bihar’s East Champaran district that the area was a hotbed of terrorism (which means there are too many Muslims there) while the fact is that there is not even a single recorded case of terror there. That was only a sly hint at Muslims and a provocation to others to attack them.
As if that was not enough, the PM himself on two consecutive days in his speeches tried to create bad blood between Muslims and others by falsely alleging that Lalu and Nitish would steal the quota of Mahadalits, Dalits, tribals, BCs and OBCs to give it away to “a community.” Which community? We all know.
In such a situation, when the top man in BJP and the top man in Central government are themselves the godfathers of intolerance how can they allow it to be condemned publicly?
The main targets of this fresh wave of intolerance are the Muslims, as usual. The most amusing part of this wave of intolerance is that if others point towards it, they are ignored, but if a Muslim (the victim) refers to it he is denounced as an “anti-national”, “a traitor.”
For instance, the President of India has repeatedly cautioned against it. The Reserve Bank Governor has criticised it. Amitabh Bachhan has objected to it. Nobody spoke a word against them. However, once Shahrukh Khan or Aamir Khan said so, they were denounced as traitors. One worthy in Maharashtra government observed that the Khans were “snakes in our sleeves.” Another godfather of intolerance, a Shiv Sena leader of Punjab, has announced a Rs 1 lakh award for anyone who slaps Aamir Khan. How great! How brave!
All this proves who is behind this new wave of intolerance and whose ideology sustains it. How can we expect a godfather to condemn his godson?