Skip to main content

AAP's fake Gandhigiri? Mahatma had sought peace in Beliaghata, epicentre of riots

By Aviral Anand*
In the days leading up to India’s independence, when communal violence roiled areas of Kolkata, Gandhi insisted on staying in Beliaghata, the Muslim-majority area, in the midst of deadly riots. Whatever one might think of Gandhi, he believed in walking the walk, and offering his own self as the physical mediator and presence in the event of a crisis. He was able to put his body on the line.
He could have chosen to be elsewhere in Kolkata and held one of his famous prayer-meetings, hoping for a peaceful solution to the riots; for that matter, he need not have been in Kolkata for his prayer meeting -- he could have held it anywhere in India. But he consciously chose to be in the epicenter of the disturbance. That to him was the right thing to do; Kolkata was not even Gandhi’s main base of operations.
Even as parts of Delhi were engulfed in deadly violence since Sunday February 23, Delhi’s recently re-elected chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, chose to pray at Rajghat on Tuesday, February 25, rather than visiting the areas experiencing horrific violence and personally urging peace. This is the very city that entrusted so much faith in him just a few weeks ago -- faith for being their supposed well-wisher, their guardian and their benefactor.
However, one might like to spin this, especially by harping on the limited jurisdiction and powers that the Kejriwal government has with respect to Delhi, one cannot excuse the absence of a chief minister from the scenes of the disturbances.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), as part of the election campaign, had the hubris and presumption to plaster a “I Love Kejriwal'' message across the city, on various forms of advertising media. Love him they did, the citizens of Delhi, it seems, as indicated by the overwhelming electoral success of AAP.
But, the rhetorical question that may well be raised now is, “Does Kejriwal also love them -- and how far is he prepared to go as part of loving them?” Will he choose to be by their side, especially those vulnerable and being targeted, in their hour of need and crisis or will he exercise his famous “tact” again by keeping a safe distance and only uttering pious platitudes from afar?
One leading daily in the capital attempted to answer the choices available to the Kejriwal government in a very matter-of fact, prosaic manner in an article titled, “Explained: What Kejriwal government can/cannot do about Delhi violence.”
Praying at Rajghat will not magically transfer Gandhi's qualities into Kejriwal at a moment of deep crisis, when immediate, decisive, direct personal action is needed
That, however, is merely a matter of technical detail, like some minutiae, utterly irrelevant to the urgency of the moment. Gandhi was neither an elected representative, nor did he command the police or the armed forces. What he did command, to an extent, was moral authority and the strength of his convictions, which is what he put on the frontlines. 
Those are qualities one had hoped Kejriwal had to some extent; if not moral authority, then at least the moral courage to go to the scenes of violence and urge that it stop. Evidently, even that is too much to expect.
Praying at Gandhi’s mausoleum will not magically transfer those qualities into Arvind Kejriwal, especially at a moment of deep crisis, when what is needed is immediate, decisive, direct and personal action. Neither will it invoke the spirit of Gandhi to magically quell the ongoing violence. That was not the Gandhi way, one of beseeching some revered figure to intercede. Instead, it was always one of leading by personal example, of being there with the people in their hour of need.
More than 20 lives have been lost, and the Muslim community has been severely attacked and targeted. They had reposed their trust in Kejriwal and AAP, despite all the outward signs of majoritarianism that Kejriwal openly exhibited and endorsed. It had seemed they had taken the high road and looked past AAP’s strategy before elections of political aloofness from the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Delhi.
But this latest act of not coming out openly in their support and hiding behind the pretext of administrative limitations and general helplessness will probably not go unnoticed.
---
*Socially-concerned citizen based in Delhi, believes in solidarity with global struggle of working classes, indigenous and other marginalized peoples

Comments

It is high time congress and aap.must cease to fund shaheenbagh disturbance. Aap must learn a lesson and be careful in creating disturbances.
subhash gatade said…
The article raises an important question which supporters of AAP need to answer who were patting it for the 'smart move' of not falling into the Hindu-Muslim trap as desired by the ruling dispensation at the centre during elections and lauding it for its focus on 'governance'

A section even believed that AAP’s electoral victory is a rejection of hate politics sponsored by the BJP and not bothering to know that there was roughly 8% swing in votes in BJP’s favour and was an outcome of only the most vitriolic campaign it has led in recent times.

As this scenario unfolded during elections it was incumbent on any political formation—especially one with the wherewithal and experience of being in power, and which does not subscribe to communalism as a political tool—to take hate-mongers to task and ensure legal action against them? AAP had miserably failed in this, for it decided not to engage in these debates at all.

Disturbingly, for long Kejriwal took no stand on Shaheen Bagh, but when cornered in a debate he questioned Shah’s inability to clear the road of protesters. “If Delhi Police was under the state government’s jurisdiction, it would have opened the Shaheen Bagh road in two hours,” he said. Thus, inadvertently or not, he pandered to the majoritarian prejudice against minorities. (https://www.newsclick.in/Towards-BJP-Hindutva-Lite-Template)

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Abysmal deficit of water, food waste recycle treatment 'impacting' Chennai life

By Simi Mehta*  We are living in a state where the most basic needs like food and water are not assured to the people residing in the urban areas, which account for the biggest sources of food and water wastage. Socio-economic inequality in society which is pervasive in urban areas is one of the main reasons for this.