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This is an alliance of deep subversion


The swarm of nationalism has exposed the hollowness and defeated the designs of the usual Left-liberals who recently created a confrontation at Ramjas College

February, it seems, is their favourite month to excite, and incite. In an eerie coincidence, the champions of hatred and disintegration were back in business in Delhi University last week, with their nauseating cacophony — exactly a year after their ruckus at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). In what appears like an orchestrated attempt to stir a controversy and shame those who take pride in flaunting their nationalist sleeves, a bunch of Left-leaning messiahs of freedom of expression went on a spree to build and push lopsided narratives.

After members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) objected to an invitation to a JNU student who faces a sedition case and is known to spew venom at the idea of India, students belonging to All India Students Association (AISA) engaged in a fierce clash with them. What followed was a string of chain events, including the over-zealous and avoidable reactions by Delhi Police. The media and social media space was swarmed with this lopsided narrative — freedom of expression was muzzled, state had become oppressive, intolerance had taken a new form. All kinds of distorted linguistic and imagery constructs were indulged in, which this tiny group is apt at forming.

And as if on a standby, the champions of tolerance, liberty, democracy and freedom, took little time in pushing forth the account of Gurmehar Kaur, projecting her as the towering icon of peace and harmony, and how deeply she was perturbed over the recent developments. In weaving a compelling construct, few could match the finesse of the Left, and this was on display yet again, akin to a replay of cacophony that followed the infamous JNU cry for freedom in February 2016.

The incidence is in many ways an indication of the discomfort and nervousness of chest-thumping secularists over the unhindered ascendancy of the Right-wing ideology, the rise of the BJP and the extraordinarily surging popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Groomed into a culture of cynicism against the Indian state and pregnant with their inexplicable sympathies for Pakistan, these intellectual rioters, supported by their political masters, are getting into the habit of taking the public sphere to hostage. The Bisada, JNU and Rohith Vemulla incidents are grim reminders of this.

Piqued at the massive gains made by the BJP across the country, as exemplified in party’s handsome gains in the recent civic polls in Odisha and Maharashtra, and earlier in Haryana, they are desperate to push narratives that could potentially discredit the party, and the Government it leads.

They seem very far from it. For they are up against a suave team of Prime Minister Modi, who will not take things lying down and will beat these Leftists on their own turf. In a swift and smart riposte, many Ministers of the Government have come out to rubbish this lopsided narrative.

Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu poked a big hole in the ‘freedom of expression’ narrative by saying that “freedom of speech doesn’t mean the right to offend”. Freedom of expression, he said, cannot be used as a tool to create social tensions or hurt the sentiments of the people. Aiming at the perennial sceptics, Naidu added dissent was agreeable, not disintegration. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, known for his fierce frankness, reacted by saying that freedom of expression was not a licence to shout anti-national slogans and asked people to “criticise the Government but not abuse the motherland”.

Union Law and Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked of the sceptics, “Do they have the right to campaign for breaking of India under cover of freedom of speech?” The cynics were also greeted with innovative response from the ABVP which carried out a ‘Tiranga March’ in the Delhi University campus and asserting the sanctity of national pride and Vande Mataram.

This is certainly not so achche din for champions of hatred and intellectual rioters who by all indications, to borrow Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley’s term, seem to be into an “alliance of subversion”. The swarm of nationalism has exposed their hollowness, and defeated their designs.

By Navneet Anand

The Pioneer