Tolerance, Intolerance and Politics for Dummies (and Anupam Kher)
Anupam Kher with wife Kirron during her electihon campaign in Chandigarh
Flavour of the past few weeks has been the tolerance tussle and series of Interviews of Anupam Kher by every channel of any consequence. However, Anupam Kher lacked any systematic articulation of his criticism of Award Wapasi. Understandable, because he is not a trained pracharak who can defend the most indefensible with logical acrobatics and an innocent face. That is the forte of Shri. Ram Madhav and the likes of him.
The biggest faux pas of Anupam Kher was picking on Nayantara Sahgal for questioning her timing of return of Sahitya Academy award now and not during the Emergency. Little does he know what this distinguished person has sacrificed for her independent critical sense. This dignified woman during her brief presence on TV, reminded us of yesteryears when public life was elegant, in stark contrast with the rabble rousing pygmy politicians of today
The lack of depth in Kher’s criticism of Award Wapasi is possibly because he may have acted impulsively in the first instance and now with the turn of events, finds himself overwhelmed. It is equally possible that his handlers find his extempore comments part of diversionary tactics working well in tandem with the smoke screen of his stardom.
However, let us for the moment go for a more benign explanation.
The 2014 General Elections for 16th Lok Sabha saw the BJP emerging as the majority party under the leadership of Narendra Modi. It is a tragic outcome of our electoral system where the victor is the one who passes the pole first. Tragic because no party had ever before won more than half the seats with a vote share of just 31%. Indeed, the previous lowest vote share for a single-party majority was in 1967, when the Congress won 283 out of 520 seats with 40.8% of the total valid votes polled.
This followed by the Presidential style of Governance of Prime Minister where power is centralised with the Prime Ministers Office and only one person that is PM who appears to be doing all thinking andtalking with an impression cultivated systematically that policy is (only) what he speaks.
Further, the BJP Government in power left no instance to exhibit blatantly its apprenticeship under RSS thought leaders and its subservience to the RSS Ideology which is anything but tolerance for modern multiculturalism. What they advocate is a kind of Hindu majoritarianism and the Congress party has helped their cause with great generosity while the others have with their incompetence.
Consequently a number of Sadhavis and Sadhus who are BJP Lok Sabha members and off late some party office bearers have started giving irresponsible statements and spitting out communal venom which definitely does not indicate tolerance. Adding fuel to the fire, the RSS comes out with statements like the issue of reservation needs re-examination.
Further events like the serial killing of intellectuals of certain conviction, organised mob violence targeted at the minorities, Sudheendra Kulkarni's face smeared with black ink donning the front page of all newspapers will need lunacy, if not a huge jump of the imagination to believe that all is well and we are living in a tolerant plural society amenable to reason.
Now for the Prime Minister who is the ONLY PERSON who matters, as far as Governance is concerned, these things not being his mann ki baat does become a matter of concern. So much so that one starts wondering if this all meets his tacit approval. More so when his own secular credentials are doubtful.
It will not be out of place if one starts thinking this onslaught is a systematic attempt on the one hand to gain more elbow room for a particular ideology, and on the other to test mood and inclination of the intelligentsia and general public in order to modulate the pace of intended transformation.
Now Mr. Anupam Kher, if this is the reason (as I understand it) behind the returning of awards, what is your view now?
Fascism does not come in overnight, it begins with a subtle creation of a (non existent) Ghost or the “Other” whom we are made to fear and hate through orchestrated propaganda. Add to this the physical elimination of a few which sends a message to the larger community of like minded folks. Then comes the moment of truth when what you question initially perhaps becomes the reality.
Wise men have said correctly "those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it ".