An unfortunate row as Ansari bows out

As is their wont, the BJP and others in the Sangh Parivar wilfully misconstrue any criticism of their time in office as being against the country.

Outgoing vice-president Hamid Ansari, before laying down office on Friday after a 10-year stint, fell foul of the ruling BJP due to his frank assessment lately offered in the Rajya Sabha, of which he was Chairman, and in an interview on the Rajya Sabha TV channel that he helped found, on the state of social fissures and challenges to national unity that appear to have intensified of late. The nation should be happy that its highest constitutional functionaries are not afraid to speak home truths to the government. Just-retired President Pranab Mukherjee spoke several times about the growing intolerance, though he took care to couch his criticism in careful language. The outgoing V-P has been forthright, and this has evidently angered the BJP.

He said Muslims and the other minorities are feeling insecure due to the vigilante justice being summarily dispensed of late. He noted that this was against the ethos of our society. He also spoke of the responsibilities of the minorities (though this was been highlighted in the news reports), but he did emphasise it was an essential feature of democracy to ensure security and the common rights of citizens to them. Another noteworthy feature of his remarks was to dwell on the healthy spirit of dissent and criticism of governments in a democratic system. As is their wont, the BJP and others in the Sangh Parivar purposely misconstrue any criticism of their time in office as being against the country. The outgoing V-P’s candid observations could not escape this fate. But it was worrying, and not merely a matter of deep discourtesy, that incoming vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu should launch a scathing assault on Mr Ansari, saying the words he had spoken were “political propaganda”.

This was downright personal, in the same vein as the vilification by a BJP general secretary who said that Mr Ansari might be hoping for “political rehabilitation”. Small-mindedness of this nature ill becomes those placed in high positions in any institution — even a political party. The VHP of course remained its usual self in saying that Mr Ansari was sounding like Mohammed Ali Jinnah and may create “another Pakistan”. Mercifully, the fusillade of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was indirect. He referenced Mr Ansari’s distinguished lineage (grandfathers from both sides having been Congress presidents before Independence, members of the Constituent Assembly and associated with the Khilafat movement), his many years dealing with West Asia as an Indian diplomat, and post retirement his association with the Minorities Commission and Aligarh Muslim University, to hint that Mr Ansari only had Muslims on his mind. The PM also pointedly noted that after retirement Mr Ansari was freed from all constitutional restraints and could work according to his beliefs. A peevish, low-grade, affair, all things considered.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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