Don’t talk, listen

With its angry words against the outgoing vice president, BJP indicts itself, not Ansari

By: Editorial | Published:August 12, 2017 12:24 am
vice president hamid ansari, hamid ansari farewell speech, pm narendra modi, bjp, indian express editorial, indian express news (File Photo)

In his farewell speech, outgoing vice president Hamid Ansari quoted S. Radhakrishnan: “A democracy is distinguished by the protection it gives to minorities. A democracy is likely to degenerate into tyranny if it does not allow the opposition groups to criticise fairly, freely and frankly… But at the same time, minorities also have their responsibilities…” Those are wise words that must be heeded in any liberal democracy. But India’s ruling party hasn’t done so. As he steps down from his office, the BJP has caricatured and stereotyped Ansari’s message, expressed in that parting speech and in other public forums. It has tried to shoot the messenger, by casting aspersions and imputing motives.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the outgoing VP’s work as a career diplomat in “West Asia”, his family’s association with the “Congress” and with the “Khilafat movement”, his time spent in the “Minority Commission” and “Aligarh Muslim University” — as if he were putting a label on Ansari’s thoughts. Ansari, the PM suggested, had spent many years of his life in “that circle, in that atmosphere, in that thought”, and was now free to “work, think and speak” according to his “core beliefs”. The PM’s colleagues were more vehement. New vice president M. Venkaiah Naidu rejected the view that the minorities are feeling insecure and there is growing intolerance — the burden of Ansari’s comments — as “political propaganda”. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that Ansari’s remarks had “damaged the country’s image” and that “he may be having a political agenda”.

Instead of rushing to condemn him, the BJP should have listened to Ansari. That it chose not to accord him the respect and courtesy of engaging with his ideas and his critique, makes it appears churlish and thin-skinned. It also confirms a charge that is often levelled at the BJP. In its three years in power, even as the party has notched serial electoral successes and its government has energetically projected its agenda, it has seemed intolerant to the dissenting argument and view. This has been most sharply framed whenever an attempt is made to raise the issue of growing insecurities in the minority community in the face of a loud majoritarianism, be it in the guise of a more demanding and performative nationalism or the violence in the name of cow. As the ruling party, the BJP has so far failed to send out the firm signal that, as party and government, it will do everything it can to protect the equal rights and freedoms of the minorities, or that it is committed to safeguarding the spaces for dialogue and debate. With its angry words, the BJP indicts itself, not Ansari.

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

  1. S
    Sanjayan
    Aug 12, 2017 at 11:30 pm
    IE can commiserate with Mr Ansari because both share the same view. A kind of subterfuge notion propounded to mask the real intend. The minorities have never felt threatened, nor will they ever be. The tribes of the minorities indeed flourish is this Hindustan. Christians have thrived like cancer in many parts of such as in Kerala, the TN and the eastern peripheral states... The other real minorities are safe in their cocoons, well preserved by the protection afforded to them by the Cons ution. Unfortunately, Islam is never content with the status of a minority. With considerable impetus flowing in from vested interests abroad as well as within the country, the Muslims are given to believe that it is right for them to assert medieval barbaric notions of justice and that their faith has special divine guarantee to p er and propagate. Muslims can never content with status quo. The Congress has done this country great disservice by furthering this notion for parochial vote bank polit
    Reply
  2. S
    Shiv Kumar Bansal
    Aug 12, 2017 at 7:30 pm
    In opinion of Mr. Ansari, in which non muslim country, Muslim are safe and feel secure. Are they safe in Syria, Pakistan or Afganistan. All muslims are safe in India except those who listen and follow people like Ansari. He has proved that there are some persons who will not improve their habits even if rewarded with highest office. In first place he did not deserve this post (VP) at all
    Reply
  3. A
    ansuman
    Aug 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm
    Not at all --in fact BJP exposed a undeserving VP whose claim to fame is -his Muslim background and typical Muslim mindset.Diplomat like him rank low and has no chance to become VP if he was Hindu.Good riddance - let someone -who really is a mass leader with character take over and transform the unruly house called --Rajya Shabha,
    Reply
  4. S
    SC
    Aug 12, 2017 at 1:03 pm
    Minorities are safe in India but they needed protection from Muslim leaders or secular intellectuals like the outgoing Vice President of India Mr. Ansari.
    Reply
  5. A
    Aniruddha Mahajn, Amravati
    Aug 12, 2017 at 10:45 am
    BJP TO ASSASSINATE DEMOCRACY! Since BJP assumed office,there is a feeling of beset in religious minority communities who have been just negotiating the violent attacks and mere derogatory comments by Sangh Pariwar. Andhra,UP,Bihar,Chhtisgarh,Gujrat,Orrisa,Karnatak,MP,Maharashtra the Desert Land are simply trending for the lynching the esteem of Dalit and Minorities,in the case government needs to play the parental role rather then to s the critic on the religious grounds which is just like showing a hatred expressions towards the lower class communities by the Men in Power. It is similar to assassination of Freedom of Expressions,in fact the Democracy. The Government also reminds me of the Right Wing Populists of European Unions whose root characteristic is to loathe the Muslims which is in their veins. BJP needs to take the wise man into consideration to take a valid move realizing that the Dalits and the Minor Communities are vital then the Black-Money and Cows in the Nation!
    Reply
  6. V
    Vi Do
    Aug 12, 2017 at 9:31 am
    Venkaiah Naidu began his career as VP with a lie that minorities are not in danger , they are safe , india is most secular and all that blatant lie. This shows that he still is a party man. Shame!
    Reply
  7. Load More Comments