'Tavleen Singh and Lord Rama'10/04/2012 14:13:12
Dr. Vijaya Rajiva
It was with great interest that the present writer watched the public program on national television, NDTV's 'Path now clear for national role for Narendra Modi ?' (April 10, 2012, with anchor Barkha Dutt). The panelists in the discussion were well known figures such as Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP, Lord Meghnad Desai and journalist Tavleen Singh. The question that was being discussed was whether the SIT Report clearing Shri Modi of any guilt (by association) in the Gulbarg Massacre of 2002 in Gujarat would now pave the way for Shri Modi to play a national role ?
The question quickly focussed on the problem of perception, even though as anchor Barkha Dutt pointed out , the Chief Minister was clearly winning the legal battle. Would Shri Modi ever shake off the association with the Gujarat riots of 2002 in the public perception of guilt ? Needless to say, the question itself was loaded and assumed that a majority of Indians, outside the circle of the'beautiful' people had made the association.
Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad made a cogent and persuasive case that the people of Gujarat had moved on precisely because in the intervening 10 years there had been no riots there (whereas under the previous Congress governments there had been frequent riots) and the state was moving on with the prosperity that Chief Minister Modi had initiated with good governance and development. He began by saying that all riots should be condemned ( and Gujarat has had a long history of riots) and that the guilty should be brought to justice. Many have already been convicted and the cases are going on in the courts. He added, with justification, that the there has been a vilification campaign against Narendra Modi, both nationally and internationally ( there is no doubt now that such a process has been going on).
It is not clear why Lord Meghnad Desai was invited to speak, apart from the fact that he is good at putting out homilies. In this case his position was : let the Chief Minister make a public apology and all would be well ! This, ofcourse, is a red herring. It is a disingenuous way of getting Shri Modi to admit to something he is not guilty of, and then jump on him with the argument that he has confessed !
Journalist Tavleen Singh disagreed with this saying that the problem of perception would never go away( this appears to be wishful thinking on her part). By her judgment Narendra Modi had failed to control the mobs (not accurate, since the army was called in at the earliest, while his requests for help from neighbouring states was not even heeded). When asked by the anchor whether the SIT Report had not made a difference, she replied in the negative. This is surprising for someone who holds forth on the rule of law. The SIT (Special Investigative Team set up by the Supreme Court to specifically examine whether there was any evidence against Shri Modi that could be used for criminal prosecution) had cleared him, but this did not satisfy Ms. Singh presumably. The Indian legal system is not sufficient for her to clear Shri Modi. She will have her pound of flesh ! She proposes that nothing less than a Truth and Reconciliation Commission could clear Mr. Modi once and for all. Apart from the fact that the Gujarat riots were similar to the Partition riots of 1947 and not like the condition of the blacks of South Africa under white racist rule, she seemed oblivious of the fact that a manufactured commission would only reopen wounds which the people of Gujarat had laid to rest. This too is a red herring. It is possible that she is hoping to play some star role in such a commission.
However, what was most astonishing was her airy statement about Modi's circle who would pray to the Lord for this reprieve from the SIT. " Lord Rama, or whoever they want to pray to. . . . ." were her words. There are two questions that come to mind.
1. Who would Singh herself pray to if she wanted to pray, if indeed she does pray ?
2. Does she have a problem with Lord Rama being prayed to ?
The really SIGNIFICANT question is whether Tavleen Singh would have said on national television, under a different set of circumstances : Allah or Jesus Christ or whoever they want to pray to ? Surely not. Neither of these two minority communities like to have their deity's name taken in vain. The response would be swift, all too swift, as she herself knows ! Whereas, anything goes, when referring to a Hindu deity.
Her reference to Lord Rama, and this said in a pejorative way, is an indication of how the 'beautiful' people are insensitive to the sentiments of the Hindus. This appears to be a general pattern, as the present writer has observed on several occasions. It is also indicative of the liberal/ elitist approach to the Hindu ethos of the Indian subcontinent. It is also a bowing down to political correctness. The minorities can never be touched, whereas Hindu sentiment is a free for all opportunity to win the approval of the
All in all, Ms Singh appeared in the program to be self righteous and a fit accompaniment was provided by a court jester present !
(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).