New Delhi: With only the last phase of the mammoth seven-phased Lok Sabha elections left, most of India has cast its vote in the biggest democratic election in the world.
Yet, controversies, without which no election would be complete, continue to swirl – from a slanderous pamphlet about AAP candidate Atishi, allegedly circulated by the BJP in Delhi, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apparently scripted interview with News Nation anchor Deepak Chaurasia.
It was also a week where the prime minister left most of India flabbergasted with his statements about the Balakot airstrike in the same interview, where he spoke about how Pakistan’s radars would not be able to pierce through clouds and detect India’s fighter jets. “I am not a person who knows all of science, but I said that there is so much cloud cover and rain, which could be advantageous in escaping from radar,” he said.
The prime minster was fact-checked by the Internet yet again when he told Chaurasia that he had first used email in 1988 to transmit an image he took of L.K. Advani with a digital camera to Delhi.
TIME magazine also found itself in the eye of a storm with its latest international edition which described Narendra Modi as ‘India’s Divider in Chief’ on its cover. The article, written by novelist Aatish Taseer, which wonders if India would be able to “endure another five years of a Modi government,” was dismissed by the BJP and many of its supporters as the work of a disgruntled Pakistani citizen.
Here’s how the right-wing media viewed these developments.
‘An angry Indian rips into TIME magazine’
Atul Kumar Mishra, the ‘angry Indian’ described in rightlog.in‘s headline, penned an open letter to TIME magazine on its latest cover ‘India’s Divider in Chief’. First up, he congratulated the media house for “finally” focusing its “attention to a part of the world you didn’t believe existed until a few years back”.
As “a budding media professional,” he congratulates the magazine for getting rid of its “squinted vision” and for “leaping into the biggest election on the planet”.
“As you get to know more about India and Indian elections, you’d realise how simple and linear your life has been,” he says, before launching into an all-out attack.
“TIME magazine, you are a joke… You called my Prime Minister ‘Divider in Chief’. I am sure you had your reasons, but as an Indian, especially as someone who did his bit in ensuring that Narendra Modi sits in the PM chair, I feel it’s my responsibility to shut your elitist mouth with facts and data.”
Mishra cites the Jan Dhan Scheme as an “inclusion scheme unlike anything seen before,” which he credits Modi wholly for. He asks TIME questions about whether it knows about the prime minister’s achievements over the past five years, from getting toilets constructed to uniting “the whole world” to jointly celebrate International Day of Yoga.
Mishra then happily glosses over facts in his short report card for Modi:
“How many big riots took place in his regime? Zero.
How many small riots took place in his regime? Zero.
How many minority community members filed cases against him or his ministers? Zero
You call him divider based on what? Beliefs? Whispers? Unproven allegations? Unsubstantiated data?
Like I said, you are a joke, TIME magazine!”
In reality, Mishra says, Modi has “achieved a feat which even ancient kings failed to achieve”:
“He has unified Hindus who were otherwise divided into castes and sub-castes.
This man has achieved a feat which even the most powerful nationalists failed to achieve. He has unified the citizens to stand up for their country and never go down without a fight.
And you have the audacity to call him a divider. Even his enemies got united as soon as he sat in the PM chair.”
Open letter to Mohan Bhagwat, or the ‘re-invigoration’ of Hindu society
In a chilling open letter to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat published on Medium and republished by Swarajya, Rahul Dewan, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, blogger and ‘spiritual seeker’, advocates solutions on how to tackle the “Muslim population explosion” and protect India’s Hindu legacy.
With his open letter, Dewan says, he aims to “draw attention to a few issues which will continue to tie Hindu society down in a quandary and prevent its re-invigoration even if Modi ji were to come back to power”.
Starting with how he hopes to see Modi back as prime minister, Dewan says that many Hindus view this election “as a civilisational battle to protect the Hindu civilisation from decline in the land of its birth”.
“Tens of millions of us had wet eyes when we saw Modi ji on TV take a Ganga-Snana and during the Kumbh Mela earlier this year. In the pursuit of secularism the Indian state and it’s elected heads forgot that they are inheritors of the thousands of years old Indian civilisation… They forgot that the basis of this nation and its core-values has been the Hindu values upon which have risen the world’s greatest faiths and religions…”
“Finally, in Narendra Modi we have a practicing Hindu as an elected prime minister, not ashamed of demonstrating his Hindu-ness (and on the contrary proud of it). This has been rejuvenating.”
But even if Modi were to come back to power, Dewan says there are several issues – of which he cites three – that must be addressed to ensure that Hindu society is “re-invigorated”.
The first issue is with how “Hindu religious institutions are being subject to endless interference from the Indian state” even while “Article 26 is being applied to all religious minorities in India in letter and spirit”.
Only an apartheid state discriminates against the majority. This must change. There are constitutional amendments to Articles 26 to 30 recommended in the now lapsed Dr Satyapal Singh Private Member Bill. These must be adopted by the new government.
He then moves on to how “Hinduism is being killed slowly but surely” because of the amount of money entering India via the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
Dewan reminds Bhagwat of how the NDA government initiated a crackdown a couple of years ago, and cites some figures:
“In 2016-17, 60% of Rs 18,500 crore entered the country via organisations with explicit affiliations to international Christian missionary organisations, destined for Christian missionary organisations in India.
Compare this influx of nearly Rs 11,000 crore for Christian missionary work, with Rs 550 crore that came in for Indic religious institutions — religious institutions run by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, put together.
#HinduCharter, a project started by Hindus from all over the country, demands that all ‘institutional’ foreign-funding must be banned.”
Coming to his most incendiary point at the end, Dewan launches into why India must be prevented from continuing on its path to becoming a ‘Muslim majority nation’.
But “asking Hindus to produce more children or forcible birth-control of Muslim population of India are not practical solutions”, he says.
“Ghar wapsi” is the only “feasible solution,” he says.
“Millions of Muslims in India are aware of their Hindu roots and to date (proudly) retain references to their jatis in their names. Asking Muslims to feel proud of their Bharatiya roots and call them swadeshi Muslims is not good enough either.
Millions of Muslims in India will return to Hinduism if offered open platforms and processes for their shuddhi, and a way to return to their original jatis. Hinduism enables formation of new jatis if there is a lack of acceptance among any mainstream jatis. Marriages of their daughters, which is the biggest problem for returning Muslims, can be done within these multitude of newly-formed jatis.”
This is where Dewan asks Bhagwat to step in, as the RSS, according to him is the only NGO in India “capable of large-scale mobilisation of resources for enabling reconversion of Indian Muslims to Hinduism”.
“This is an urgent call of the hour. If the RSS does not open its arms to Muslims wanting to return to Hindu dharma, RSS as well as Hinduism will perish in the land of its birth. Even blaming RSS for not acting in time will not remain an option, for without Hindus, the memory and contribution of the RSS will be shoved into the dustbin of history.”
‘Atishi, AAP, and politics of the crybully’
Lashing out at “factual inconsistencies in AAP’s allegations” on the pamphlet that was circulated about East Delhi AAP candidate Atishi, novelist Mayuresh Didolkar says in an article on Swarajya that the “pamphlet issue is a textbook case of the left’s constant weaponisation of the victimhood narrative and its attack on due process in the guise of social justice”.
“In February 2018, I had written how Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is possibly the worst thing to happen to Indian politics. Sadly, since then, the Delhi CM and his merry band of cry-bullies have gone on to achieve new lows in politics…”
Calling the authenticity of the pamphlet into question, Didolkar asks why no formal complaint has been lodged by AAP or Atishi and why AAP instead knocked “on the doors of the DCW where an AAP sympathiser is in-charge”.
“Since Atishi herself is accusing Gambhir directly, anyone saying ‘I don’t believe Gambhir was behind this but I stand with Atishi’ is being duplicitous. If you think Gambhir would not stoop to this level, then you must condemn Atishi for slandering an honourable man without an iota of proof.”
According to Didolkar, “The argument that incidents like this serve the purpose of bringing the sexist attitude towards women in public in general and in public life in particular, has very limited validity”.
“As hard as the women MP, MLAs and other office bearers have, these are still women of riches and privileges in the context of the Indian society, and this privilege often accords them protection from many of the problems that ordinary women face every day.”