Friday, March 20, 2009

THE VARUN STING: WHO IS NOT PLAYING THE COMMUNAL CARD?

Rajdeep Sardesai, the CNN-IBN father of the Varun Gandhi sting, has written a column, "The other great-grandson", in the Hindustan Times today, saying that "we must not allow Varun to get away". Seemingly stung by the fact that the grandson of Indira Gandhi has joined the opposite political and ideological camp, Sardesai appears to be one of those many "liberals" who want to ensure that this potent family challenge to Rahul Gandhi is crushed at the very first step. That is why, the points raised by Varun Gandhi in his defence about the communal situation in Pilibhit have been summarily dismissed by him in one line: "With a substantial Muslim population, Pilibhit has a history of communal trouble". That is it.

So, what Rajdeep Sardesai is telling the nation is that wherever there is a substantial Muslim population, communal trouble should be accepted as a reality by the nation and nothing can be done about it. Speaking about it is communal; keeping quiet and letting things deteriorate is proof that you are secular.

Varun Gandhi has given out some details of the "provocative and communal" incidents that have taken place in his parliamentary constituency and the environment that prevails there:
  • Slaughtered remains of cows have been found in various homes
  • Thousands and thousands of people from the Hindu community have been placed under arrest under the NSA
  • Three temples have been vandalised in the block where he is supposed to have given that speech
  • Village pradhans have been threatened daily
  • Quota shop owners have had their quotas cancelled
  • There is widespread fear that arms are being smuggled into ghettos in this sensitive border area to be used against India
  • The Hindu community is in a siege in its own country
No one can deny that, if true, these are pretty serious developments. If false, then Varun Gandhi should be exposed for being a liar too, in addition to being a hate-mongerer. But, no one in the media has spoken about them at all. Rajdeep Sardesai, in fact, touches upon only one issue in his column: "If Varun today seeks to revive the cow slaughter issue, it should be seen in a specific historic context". He, in fact goes on to obliquely justify cow slaughter saying that in 1930, before the country was partitioned, "resolutions moved in the Central Legislative Assembly to ban cow slaughter had sparked off violence in the region". So, as per Sardesai, the intense Hindu sensitivity to cow slaughter must be slaughtered so that Muslims do not resort to violence. Perhaps the beef-eating Sardesai does not know or does not care that Hindus have been protesting against the killing of cows for centuries.

Not surprisingly, Sardesai and his channel CNN-IBN are totally silent on all the other points raised by Varun Gandhi, giving rise to the belief that there is truth in what he is saying. Their one-point agenda is clear: ensure that that Varun Gandhi poses no challenge politically to Rahul Gandhi, India's Crown Prince, as Rajdeep Sardesai always calls him on his channel and in his columns. That is why Tom Vadakkan dismisses Varun's claim of being a real Gandhi by saying that there are millions of Indians with that surname, while Abhishek Manu Singhvi calls Varun's, not Rahul's, Gandhi tag a mere "accident of birth"!

Vir Sanghvi is widely known to be close to the Gandhi family and the Congress party as a result. I wonder what he will have to say about this controversy. But, he is perhaps the only mainstream media personality who has so far spoken out against what is is increasingly beginning to look like the raj of fanatic Mullahs in the guise of secularism. In a column titled "Stand up to the mullahs" in the Hindustan Times of February 21, 2009, he says bluntly but truthfully "The real reason we give in to Islamic fanatics is...cowardice." Is it any surprise that former ISI chief Hamid Gul also feels the same way about India's response to the proxy war that his country has unleashed on this country?

Sanghvi believes that the fanatics "have identified the cowardice at the heart of our liberalism". What Sanghvi does not say but a lot of people know is that in addition to cowardice, they have also identified the utter dishonesty at the heart of our secular politics. It is a combination of both that gets TV channels like CNN-IBN to become part of political conspiracies to promote politicians and political parties in such a blatantly one-sided manner.

Is this selective pillorying of anyone who speaks for Hindus secularism? Is this relentless baying for the blood of Varun Gandhi really the voice of a truly liberal and impartial media and polity?

There is no doubt that Varun Gandhi went over the top in uttering a couple of words for which he must apologise and be admonished by his party. But, is Varun alone in playing the communal card as his vociferous critics are alleging? Are those who are willfully completely silent about the aggressive communalism of fanatics that provoked him into making those speeches not guilty of playing an even more dangerous communal card?


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Readers may also read:
1. Say sorry to India Varun
2. Will the Congress do better without Sonia and Rahul?