Friday, 30 November 2007

Who's Afraid of the Fundamentalist Wolf?

Everybody, it seems, is out to appease the fundamentalists, whether they be saffron, green or dark blue. Especially so, if the appeasers happen to be politicians. Taslima Nasreen has decided to withdraw some lines from the second volume of her memoirs, Dwikhandita, because her descriptions of 1980s Bangladesh under military rule hurt the sentiments of the Jamaat-ul-Islami. Of course, this was after Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian foreign minister, suggested that those seeking asylum in India should take care not to hurt the sentiments of their fellow citizens. Her decision has been warmly welcomed by CPI(M) representatives, despite the fact that Comrade Prakash Karat had at one time thundered against the bourgeois parties’ inability to fight fundamentalism. Meanwhile, in Amritsar, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), controlled by the Shiroman Akali Dal, installed the portrait of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Golden Temple museum. Evidently, this was a demand voiced by radical groups, who had supported the present president of the SGPC in his quest for a third term of office. And in Gujarat, the Congress is busy making a friend of Gordhan Zadaphia, home minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots and now estranged from Narendra Modi.Of course, he cannot be admitted to the party but he can campaign against Modi...

If all this were not happening for real, I’d think I was witnessing a farce. Does the Jamaat support all that was done by Bangladesh’s military rulers in the 1980s? Are the radicals, who demanded the installation of Bhindranwale’s portrait in the Golden Temple museum, aware that he acted as Mrs. Gandhi’s stooge in creating an anti-Akali wave in Punjab? Have they read Mrs Gandhi’s Last Battle? Of course, the reason why Zadaphia is so popular with the Congress during election season is not far to seek.

What does this mean for the ordinary Indian citizen? Well, it means that any party that is in politics today sees power as the highest goal. None of them have principles. None of them are capable of seeing the country as one entity, as the founding fathers saw it. None of them will die for the country or for any principles, if asked to do so. And if you blame the border security guard or a policeman for taking a bribe to let a suspicious character go, only to find out later that the character was a dangerous terrorist, please think of the politicians who have made it their life’s business to appease all shades of fundamentalism, to bow down to all the little Hitlers, in an effort to remain in power for yet another term.

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