Shashi Tharoor has said that if BJP returns to power, the Indian Constitution as it stands would be torn to shreds and a new Constitution would be imposed on the people.
Never underestimate the ability of ‘intellectuals’, especially of the secularist variety, to sound not just downright silly but also revel in their silliness. Shashi Tharoor, one of the leading intellectuals in the Congress fold, has said that India would become “Hindu Pakistan” in case the Bhartiya Janata Party returned to power, and also gained a majority in the Rajya Sabha. For good measure, he added that the Constitution as it stands would be torn to shreds and a new Constitution would be imposed on the people.
Have the courts not made it clear that the basic structure cannot be touched under any circumstance?
Soon enough, another intellectual of a similar kind, former Vice President Hamid Ansari, responded in an equally silly fashion. He said that he had not heard the statements Tharoor had made, but he knew for sure that since Tharoor was a well-read person and had even written some books, the latter would not say anything frivolous. Thus, one intellectual gives a clean chit to another without even knowing what the other had said! But this is not about intellectuals, though a piece of advice for Ansari is due: He should stop playing devious games and instead join politics because his camouflage is not working. Let’s not forget that his conduct in the later years of his vice presidency was questionable.
Returning to the subject at hand, why did Tharoor say what he did? Was it just a case of an over-heated intellectual mind at work, or was there a design in his remarks? While the first cannot be ruled out — he is, after all, facing a serious personal case which may have triggered some sort of chemical reaction in his brain, and which in turn may have led him to delusional thoughts — the second possibility is more real.
Let us not forget that Tharoor made his “Hindu Pakistan” observation within hours of Congress party president Rahul Gandhi meeting a bunch of Muslims — ‘intellectuals’, yes — and reportedly telling them that his party had wronged the Muslim community in recent years. Tharoor may be erudite but his desperation to remain in the good books of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has reduced him to an object of ridicule. When was the last time that the Constitution was undermined to the detriment of the people of this country? It was when Internal Emergency was imposed by a Congress regime led by Indira Gandhi. That was the time when even the basic structure of the Constitution was tampered with.
Assuming that the BJP does get an overwhelming majority in the next general election and also gets enough numbers in the Rajya Sabha, how would it — even accepting for the sake of argument that it wants to change the Constitution —discard the present document and replace it with a Hindutva one? Have the courts not made it clear that the basic structure cannot be touched under any circumstance? Is Tharoor suggesting that the courts would be stifled too? Is Tharoor not questioning the intelligence of the voters?
The desperation to fix the Hindus had got so extreme that one of the party’s senior leaders, AK Antony, had to advise the leadership to tone down the condemnation.
It was over 70 years ago that MA Jinnah had got Pakistan on the premise that Muslims could not expect to live with dignity in a Hindu-majority India. His theory was rubbished by millions of Muslims who refused to buy his nonsense and remained in and with India. Now Tharoor is presenting the same noxious theory, repackaged. Jinnah had resorted to fear-mongering and got away with it, but Tharoor and his party will pay a price.
If one wants, there are dozens of ways to criticise the Modi Government or the BJP, or even the RSS. Why drag in the term “Hindu’, and then additionally draw comparisons with Pakistan? It is part of the Congress’s larger game plan to demean the Hindu community. Earlier, senior Congress leaders had spoken of ‘Saffron terror’ and ‘Hindu terror’. The desperation to fix the Hindus had got so extreme that one of the party’s senior leaders, AK Antony, had to advise the leadership to tone down the condemnation and be seen as less anti-Hindu or pro-Muslim.
But with the Lok Sabha election around the corner, the caution has been thrown to the winds and the Congress is back to Muslim-appeasement and Hindu-bashing. However, this is unlikely to fetch gains for the party, much like it did not in 2014. In most important States, such as in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Odisha, regional parties have already cornered the minority votes. On the other hand, discrediting the Hindu community could lead to a polarisation the Congress needs to be terrified of — that of the majority community, if not fully at least substantially, deciding to vote against the party.
Much as Rahul Gandhi may visit temples or his cohorts may project him as having worn the sacred thread and being a devotee of Lord Shiva, the bare fact is that the party he leads is seen to be driven by its bias in favor of the Muslims. The Samajwadi Party paid a heavy price for a similar image in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election. Will it be deja vu in 2019, this time with the Congress at the receiving end?
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.