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

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".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They