Security personnel detain wrestler Sakshi Malik during wrestlers' protest march towards new Parliament building | Photo: PTI
Why do you criticise the Prime Minister? How can you say such things about him? Don't you have even one good word to speak of the PM and the BJP ruled central government? Your bias is very much obvious. You see only the negative sides in everything. You always say those who have ears may hear and those who have eyes may see. You should examine your own eyes and ears first. The so-called neutrality of people like you is nothing but fake. This is the gist of the critique that Vazhipokkan's column is subjected to mostly.
This writer has nothing personal against the PM. My quarrels are with the power and the post he holds. There is basically one reason for that. The PM's post is the most powerful post in India.The central government means the PM all the way. There were many stalwarts in Nehru's cabinet like Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, Rajendra Prasad and Syama Prasad Mukherjee. They were all equally competent leaders. Nehru could never be the all powerful leader when he was surrounded by these colleagues. It was a different story during the Indira regime. Her followers believed India was Indira and Indira was India. Indira never wanted in her cabinet anyone who could surpass her in intellect and calibre. Morarji Desai was as adamant and stubborn as Indira when it came to matters of leadership. But there were not many bhakts either in his cabinet or his party. Charan Singh, Chandrashekar, Vajpayee and George Fernandez were not at all inclined to have any kind of devotion to the PM.
Virat Purusha of power
After the Rajiv Gandhi ministry, no party could get absolute majority till Modi assumed power in 2014. VP Singh, Chandrashekar, Narasimha Rao and Vajpayee were all lions. But they knew their limitations as they presided over governments which depended on many parties for its survival. That is one advantage of this type of government. Manmohan Singh's phase was a little more complicated. There was Sonia, the supreme leader of the Congress above the PM. So, Manmohan was always aware of the Lashman Rekhas. When Modi came to power in 2014 it was widely perceived as the return of the spring of democracy. Modi declared from the ramparts of the Red Fort that he was not the PM but the Pradhan Sevak. He also made it a point that development of the nation required the participation of the opposition as well. But that attitude was short-lived. What the nation saw afterwards was the metamorphosis of Modi into the Virat Purusha of power.
Today, the central government is virtually Narendra Modi. Recently the union cabinet minister for education declared that India was blessed to have a Guru like Modi. When asked about what factored in the new outlook of India's foreign policy Jayashankar, the minister for external affairs said that if he had to answer in one word it would be Modi. It will be really tough for any one to remember the names of most of the ministers in Modi's cabinet. In Modi's cabinet Modi only matters.
NAMO is the mind and matter of the BJP government at the centre. NAMO's followers like to believe that India gained independence in 2014 only. They are not even bothered to acknowledge the fact that there was a BJP ministry led by Vajpayee sometime back. To them NAMO is the Alpha and the Omega. Then it is only natural that when the wrongs are called out one tends to hold NAMO accountable. There is no point in criticising Amit bhai, Nirmala ji and Rajnath Singh ji. They are the foot soldiers. Those who know the real centre of power will never target the cavalry.
The eternal opposition
This writer would like to respond to the allegation that this column has only criticism. In fact, the answer has been given neatly and accurately by Parakala Prabhakar, renowned economist and husband of Nirmala Sitharaman, the minister of finance in Modi's cabinet: ''Parakala, you are only highlighting the problems, sitting pretty in your air-conditioned room. Don't just talk. Do something. Give us solutions. This is a trap I will not fall into. It is just another form of censorship.The primary intention of my writings and speeches is to raise a red flag when I see something going wrong; unpack the process of the country's drift towards ideas and actions that are inimical to our Republic's democratic, plural, liberal and secular creed; draw attention-consistently and with clarity- to the failures, inefficiencies,falsehoods and mala fide intent of the government.''
''To highlight the good done by the government, there are innumerable platforms in the country. In fact, there is a glut of such media platforms. The ruling party's own gigantic publicity machinery and well-funded digital army are also doing that job day and night. They overwhelm our public discourse with an avalanche of pro-establishment propaganda dressed up as news and expert opinion. So, mine is an unabashedly critical voice. it is, unrepentantly, a dissenting note.''
The journalists in India should hold these words as their guiding light. The duty of the journalist is to be the eternal opposition. They should always stand against power. Right now power means Modi at the centre and Pinarayi at the state. There is no point in criticising P Rajeev or Veena George in Kerala. The centre of power in Kerala is CM Pinarayi Vijayan. And the buck stops with him.
If one wants to take on the Congress, the target shouldn't be KC Venugopal or Jairam Ramesh. It should be Sonia and Rahul. They are the most powerful in Congress. The same theory should be applicable when it comes to Modi. Those who commit more injustices will be criticised more. There is no ground for moderate criticism when one is up against power. Words should be sharp like chisel. Blood should ooze out of anything that comes in the way. Remember the words of MP Paul about the writings of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer: ''words dripping with blood.''
The struggle in Jantar Mantar
Prime Minister Modi is criticised in this column too. This writer tried his maximum to avoid the PM this time. But who else can be held responsible when one talks about the sports stars who are fighting for justice at the national capital. Is it Sonia Gandhi who is denying them justice? Or can we put Kejriwal and Sitaram Yechury in the dock? Has the injustice been committed by Jawaharlal Nehru who passed away in 1964?
It is not at all a complicated issue. It's there for everyone to see. It is a case of sexual harassment. The aggrieved are the sports persons who won medals for India at the international level. Brij Bhushan Saran Singh , the BJP MP and the outgoing president of the Wrestlers Federation of India, is in the dock. Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Fogat, Sangita Fogat and Sakshi Malik, the four affected sports persons have been on the war path for 4.5 months.
Brij Bhushan is no small fish. He is one of the prominent faces of BJP in UP. A six time MP from the state, he could tilt the balance in at least six constituencies in UP. He was also one of the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. He also has the reputation of speaking in front of television cameras about committing a murder. Maybe these are the reasons why the Police refused to register an FIR in the beginning.
The Delhi police was forced to register the FIR only after the SC intervened. One FIR has been registered as per the POCSO act. If an FIR is registered under POCSO then the accused has to be arrested immediately. The investigation will start after the arrest only. Because the accused is booked for sexually harassing the children. If he is allowed to roam free there is every likelihood that he may target more kids. POCSO was enacted to prevent sexual harassment against children. But even POCSO is helpless before Bhushan. It shouldn't be forgotten that Bhushan has a criminal background. It is really strange that such a person is allowed to be free even after he has been booked under POCSO.
Sachin, Where Are You?
Delhi police is not answerable to the Delhi government. Even an ordinary constable may not obey an instruction from the CM Aravind Kejriwal. In case that constable pays attention to the CM, most probably he will have to face the wrath of the central govt. Delhi police is controlled by the central home ministry. None other than Amit Shahi is heading the home ministry. He is described as the manfriday of Modi. But Amit bhai seems to be unwilling to find any substance in the wrestlers' demand for the arrest of Brij Bhushan. Then who should the sports persons turn towards for justice? Who can ensure justice to these hapless human beings? That one and only person is NAMO. The bhakts are more than happy to pronounce that NAMO is the Viswa Guru, who has come to this planet to save the daughters. NAMO is the PM, who gave the mantra of Beti Bachao to India. But the fight for justice at the Jantar Mantar has still not been noticed by NAMO. It is not clear if NAMO is right now preoccupied with the mission of liberating the global women as he is slated to preside over the G20 meeting soon. Anyway, NAMO has been leading the world and India without being shaken by any of these developments. The outcry for justice from Jantar Mantar has cast a shadow over the glowing image of NAMO.
Neither BJP nor the central government could find any link between the Jantar Mantar protest and Pakistan. One of the protestors had earlier described himself as Bajrangi.The protestors have been careful enough not to get tagged with any political party. That too has played spoilsport with BJP's plan to tarnish the image of the sports persons.
The Jantar Mantar struggle has proved beyond doubt that sports icons like Sachin Tendulkar have failed miserably in fulfilling their duty towards their fellow human beings. Remember Sachin's response to singer Rihannah and human rights activist Greta Tunberg when they extended support to the farmers' protest. Sachin told them to mind their own business since Indians knew how to handle their issues. Right now, when members of the Indian sporting community are crying out for justice the 'God of Cricket' is silent. This is where we realise the value and significance of sports persons like Kapil Deva and Neeraj Chopra. Human beings become human beings when they react against injustice even if it is perpetrated by the most powerful.
Behind Modi's silence
Even Mohan Bhagawat, the Sarsanghchalak of RSS wouldn't have to think twice to answer the question whose side one should be on this issue. It is as simple as that.But still Modi continues to keep mum. The FIR by the police reveals that the PM was informed about the sexual harassment by one of the sports persons two years back. The FIR has recorded her statement which tells us that the soothing words of the PM saved her from the brink of suicide. But Modi's silence has now proved that those words were nothing but hollow.
According to journalist Vir Sanghvi, Modi's silence has specific reasons. Sanghvi says that Modi has learnt some lessons from the last UPA government. When the Manmohan Singh govt was rattled by allegations of corruption both Sonia and Manmohan were equally determined to act up on those insinuations. That's how Shashi Tharoor and A raja had to resign. The Congress government held Anna Hazare and Aravind Kejriwal in high esteem and never portrayed them as anti nationals.The Congress leaders were under the impression that these acts of correction would be viewed as prompt responses against corruption and that people would once again rally behind the party. But people thought otherwise. They came to the conclusion that Congress had become the centre of corruption and all the corrupt had the backing of the leadership.
Modi has adopted the policy of not paying any attention to the allegations of corruption. He thinks that if he acts on these allegations that will be tantamount to accepting the guilt. He is of the firm belief that the image of being the invincible and infallible leader is what India needs. Modi had to bow his head only once all these years. And that too only when he realised that the farmers could rock the apple cart of UP election.
Sangvi points out that it won't be that easy for the sports persons to get justice from the Modi government. Sanghvi wrote the article much before the farmers intervened in the struggle by the sports persons. They have now declared that they would take up the fight if the Modi govt doesn't arrest Brij Bhushan before June 9. The farmers have led one of the most iconic fights against the government in the history of independent India. The PM , who has remained unaffected by the struggle till now, will have to sit back and take notice.
The Crooked Timber of New India
The Modi regime is marked by its contempt and sneer towards democracy. It feels that there is too much democracy in India while the truth is that India has been inching towards electoral autocracy. This government has taken a doctorate in the art of weakening democratic institutions one by one. They believe in installing the sceptre of power in the parliament while continuing to silence all the notes of dissent in the country. They tend to forget the fact that it was the people who gained independence from the colonial powers. They simply go for optics one way or another. That is why the sceptre installation became such a mahotsav for the BJP led government.
It was immanuel Kant who said that no straight thing was ever made out of the crooked timber. Parakala Prabhakar calls the Modi regime the crooked timber of new India. The crooked timber means nothing good will come out of it. The only remedy is to dismantle the present one and go for straight timber.
Remember how the prominent members of the Kauravas remained deaf and blind when Panchali was insulted and humiliated. That was the beginning of the end. Is it the same message that is now emanating from Jantar Mantar? The beginning of the end of those who tend to show Vinash kale viprit budhi. Is it only this writer who feels that the signs on the wall of time do indicate this simple truth?