On May 26, there was a smooth and dignified transfer of power into your hands supported by hundreds of millions of citizens hopeful of a glorious new era after a dismal period of misrule. In a significant part of the oath you took when you were sworn in as prime minister, you promised to uphold the unity and integrity of India. Members of your council of ministers, who were sworn in after you, also read the same solemn oath that was broadcast live to every corner of the country from the grand forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
In the six months since May 26, you have repeatedly asserted here and in the many foreign lands you have visited, that you are committed to inclusive growth and development for all segments of our society. You have also specifically highlighted the loyalty and patriotism of Indian Muslims. These declarations are reassuring.
During the same six months, hate speeches and incendiary acts against Muslims by several individuals and groups belonging to the Sangh Parivar are deeply wounding. False accusations of “love jihad” directed against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh during June-September, recent aggressive and provocative actions against minority groups in five outlying areas of Delhi and communal tensions in other states, promoted by majority mahapanchayats, BJP legislators and Parivar activists have brazenly contradicted your commitments and declarations.
As prime minister of all of India, you cannot and should not look away from these affronts to your authority. You are greatly admired for your commanding presence and your firm and bold actions. It is now time for you to restrain through words and deeds all activities, individuals and groups that subvert the unity and integrity of the nation. Muslim terrorists and extremists are being firmly and forthrightly dealt with. Those who seek to terrorise Muslims and some other minorities should also be apprehended, regardless of their political connections. The rule of law and the equal protection of laws must apply to all citizens of this country. The rule of law must also apply to those who wish to desecrate the rainbow culture of India — a vital issue that is beyond the scope of this letter.
Delhi, the great capital city, epitomises that old but still relevant cliché about our vast and varied nation — unity in diversity. All attempts to turn this proudly multicultural and multi-faith city into a warren of warring ghettos cannot be tolerated by you. In the context of the impending Delhi assembly polls, electoral campaigns that deliberately disturb social and communal harmony need to be firmly controlled.
You may recall that ever since 1969, the Shiv Sena, with the encouragement of successive Congress regimes, has converted Bombay-Mumbai, a city that was India’s most vibrant commercial centre, into a morass of divided localities. The violent disruption on November 12 of the proceedings of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha by Shiv Sena and Congress MLAs provided yet another example of the depths to which Mumbai has been made to sink. Delhi cannot be allowed to go the Mumbai way.
The historic capital of India, ruled over the centuries by Prithviraj Chauhan, Shah Jahan, Viceroy Willingdon, Jawaharlal Nehru and now by you, Narendra Modi, must be a centre of progress, peace and harmony — a shining example of your vision of building a glorious country. You should be esteemed as the Vijay Bharat Samrat, much beyond a Hindu Hriday Samrat.
Yours, with hope, Jawid Laiq
The writer is a Delhi-based political correspondent