Intolerance Debate, Politics is Central

In Telegraph National Debate 2016, on the topic “Intolerance Debate Continues” Barkha Dutt made a powerful speech. Coming after fiery and feisty Anupam Kher, Barkha Dutt spoke for the motion and rightly said the topic of  debate was politics neutral. There was no BJP or congress. There is no disagreement that India and Indians need freedom from dikats given by right wing or left wing about what to wear, what to eat, what to think etc. No sensible person can disagree with Barkha Dutt’s argument on our freedom. 

At the same time it would be disingenuous on her or anyone’s part to claim that intolerance debate that is raging in the country is apolitical and not directed at Modi and BJP. If so, why in every TV debate of NDTV Ms. Dutt had called representatives of BJP and congress to say their side of the story? If the narrative is such that country as such has become intolerant, why not call civil society members and discuss the issue? Member of  her team and speaking for the motion, Mr. Randeep Soorjewala had a laundry list of his and his party’s pet peeves against BJP, that he read out in the intolerance debate. So, ofcourse debate has political undertone. 

Question is, has India become more intolerant after BJP came to power? It is true, many stupid comments were made by foolish people. It is true, may be right wing fringe felt emboldened after BJP came to power. But attribute every wrong doing of loony fringe to BJP is ludicrous. Mr. Pansare, Mr. Kalburgi were killed when central governmetn was run by UPA and states of Maharashtra and Karnataka were governed by congress party. Why were culprit/s not caught? Was the issue kept alive in anticipation that Modi will come to power and intolerance debate will be initiated? 

It is important to note that left liberals, a champion of free speech, banned Usha Uthuup from singing in Kolkata club in the name of “apasanskriti” or spurious culture. Ms. Nayantara Sahgal, the first person to return her sahitya academy award, had no compunction receiving the award a year after massacre of sikhs in Delhi. Many extra judicial killings have happened during forty seven year rule of congress party in India. Killing of young boys that joined ultra left Naxalite movement happened during congress rule of Bengal and continued in other states like Andhra Pradesh. About BJP less said is better. But can you judge a government from looney fringe? 

Politics is being played out everywhere on every issue after Modi government came to power. Media has no small role to play in the whole issue. Remember, how BJP was crucified after rape of a nun in Bengal. Later it turned out to be a criminal act.

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