Stubbed out: Gandhian ideas

The Mahatma's effigy was burnt and Narendra Modi's critics were arrested

By Upala Sen in Calcutta
  • Published 3.02.19, 11:38 AM
  • Updated 3.02.19, 11:38 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
PM Narendra Modi pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 71st death anniversary at Rajghat in Delhi, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. PTI

To think it has come to this. On January 30, the national secretary of the Hindutva outfit, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, celebrated Gandhi's assassination, garlanded the image of his assassin Nathuram Godse and shot the effigy of the Mahatma with a toy pistol. There was fake blood too, just in case anyone doubted that Lady Saffron — also known as Pooja Shakun Pandey — had missed her mark. Police booked some Hindu Mahasabha activists but other than that there was no word of condemnation from one or more of the higher-ups.

The other cheek

Last December, in Uttar Pradesh's Sambhal district, a BJP leader assaulted a man for critiquing Narendra Modi and saying he would vote for Akhilesh Yadav. The man was arrested for disturbing peace. That same month in Lucknow, two labourers and a printer were arrested for putting up posters that said: Jumlebaazi ka naam Modi, Hindutva ka brand Yogi. Meaning, Modi symbolises false promises, Yogi is the true brand for Hindutva. In September, a woman was arrested at the Tuticorin airport in Tamil Nadu for shouting anti-BJP slogans at the Tamil Nadu BJP president, Tamilisai Soundararajan. The woman, Lois Sofia, had reportedly said, “Down with Modi, BJP-RSS fascist government.” In November last year, Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha was arrested on charges of sedition for a social media post in which he criticised the BJP and the RSS and the chief minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren Singh. He is yet to be released. Biren Singh told media: “I can tolerate criticism but not the humiliation of my leaders; he was abusing as well as humiliating the national heroes like Rani of Jhansi and PM Modi.” In 2017, a wheelchair bound man was abused and manhandled for not standing up when the national anthem was playing. Kashmiri students supporting the Pakistan cricket team have been expelled. Men and boys are routinely lynched for not being respectful to cows.

How’s the Josh?

In the course of his Mann Ki Baat on January 30, Prime Minister Modi urged the nation to pay its father a two-minute tribute, as if gratitude and remembrance were a quick snack, instead of a life-long engagement.

That day, a smiling Pooja Shakun posed with her cronies and a pistol and went bang, bang, bang. They vowed that there would be many such celebrations across the country year upon year. Following this, a case was filed against 13 people, and there were witnesses aplenty, but till Saturday there was no news of any arrests. How’s the Josh, people?

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