Updated: August 15, 2021 7:32:10 am
The Government’s decision to declare August 14 as “Partition Horrors Remembrance Day” drew sharp criticism from the Congress and other Opposition parties. Barring the Bahujan Samaj Party which supported the move and the Samajwadi Party which declined to comment, the Opposition’s refrain was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was playing “divisive politics” over the sacrifice and trauma of people torn apart by Partition.
“The divisive duplicity of the Prime Minister stands exposed,” said Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a statement. “When there are no elections, PM exhibits his love for Pakistan and congratulates the neighbouring country on March 22, the day Muslim League passed the ‘Partition Resolution’ in 1940, and congratulates it on every August 14. But when elections are near, he starts diversionary politics at home.”
Surjewala also shared the PM’s congratulatory letters to Pakistan on August 14 and tweets on March 22. “It seems preparations are in full swing to repeat the ‘Shamshan-Kabristan’ drama in view of the impending UP elections,” he said.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Majeed Memon said it was better to “forget August 14” than to remember “the massive loss of lives, disharmony and hatred which were the fallout of Partition.” He added: “If the PM wants the people to remember that we need to live in peace and harmony, then he must tell his BJP leaders to refrain from spreading venom towards the minority community.”
The Trinamool Congress, too, slammed the move. “Who are the people responsible for Partition? The Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS were all equally responsible…By declaring Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, the PM can’t write off the ugliest human tragedy that had affected the people of Punjab and Bengal in 1946-47,” TMC’s Sukhendu Sekhar Ray told The Indian Express.“Neither the BJP nor the Congress would want actual history to be taught to young Indians because if they knew what actually happened neither would get support.”
Another key Opposition party DMK expressed its criticism. “Independent India is 75 years old but you are trying to rekindle the hatred between the communities. India was never one country, there were many princely states and Mahatma Gandhi united them to fight for freedom,” party spokesperson TKS Elangovan, told The Indian Express.
“It may be his (PM’s) view. It cannot be the nation’s view. Many people will not agree with it. It was a sad day. But was there any alternative? It’s been 75 years. What are we commemorating?” asked BJD MP and leader of the party in Lok Sabha Bhratruhari Mahtab.
Said CPM’s Politburo member Mohammed Salim: “Those who actually participated in the freedom struggle have decided to focus on our golden past, whereas those who never participated (in the movement), but instead spread communal hatred and riots, are now calling for a Partition Horrors Day? Instead, we should be looking forward and building an inclusive, democratic, secular India.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal accused the PM of “double standards”. “I would like to request the Prime Minister that there is no need for a Partition Horrors (Day)…The horrors witnessed during the Covid pandemic, concentrate on that. No PM has ever written letters (to Pakistan) on Pakistan’s Independence day, now a lot of letters are being written – this is a double standard,” said party spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha.
While a Samajwadi Party spokesman declined to comment, the Bahujan Samaj Party supported the move. “We agree with the announcement made by the Prime Minister and the Home Ministry. The Partition of our country was a moment of pain and sorrow. Thousands of people were displaced,” party MP Malook Nagar said.
“Therefore, we should remember 14th August in that way…The Central government as well as state governments, union ministers and state ministers, former ministers, MPs and MLAs should prepare an atmosphere that the same thinking may never arise again.”