by Subhash Gatade
Ram Madhav, the first official spokesperson of RSS (later removed or discharged from this role) and these days ‘loaned’ to BJP as a ‘senior leader’ engaged in what an analyst called double delete asana on International Yoga Day. The first of this kind of ‘asana’ – unheard before – was rather necessitated by the impetuosity with which the net savvy leader twitted about ‘absence of Vice President Hamid Ansari’ from the celebrations and the ‘blackout of the programme by Rajya Sabha TV which is chaired by him’ and later twitted ‘an apology about the confusion’ and within no time deleted both the tweets.
By evening it was clear that not only the Rajya Sabha TV had provided a live coverage of the programme but also provided clarifications about honourable Vice President’s absence. It was revealed that he was not invited for the programme by the concerned minister. In fact his office had to issue a press release to the effect because of the insinuations which were being spread targeting him and perhaps also tell the likes of Ram Madhav that there is something called protocol which the Vice President has to follow.
One does not know whether it would be possible for Mr Ram Madhav to comprehend such nuances of democratic procedures because for him such details are of no consequence. In fact if he was really concerned about absence of Vice President of India in the said programme, he could have easily phoned his office and made further enquiries. But as we know he just wanted to underline his absence from such a programme of ‘national glory’ when India was supposedly ‘leading the world’. It was an indirect way to further the illiberal and exclusivist agenda he has been exposed to since younger days.
We know that this is not for the first time that the honourable Vice President has been targeted in such a lowly manner and a campaign of calumny and insinuation has been launched against him. During President Obama’s visit also a similar controversy was raked up by the same elements when national anthem was being played during Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath. A photo of the programme was widely shared on social media wherein the President of India was seen to be saluting the national flag whereas Vice President Hamid Ansari and many other dignitaries were seen merely standing.
“Why didn’t Hamid Ansari salute the national flag?” This question seemed to be top most on the minds of the self-proclaimed defenders of patriotism then. In fact, home minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj didn’t salute the flag either, but as expected their patriotism was not questioned. Many hate tweets were hurled at the Vice President then ranging from “Jihadi sympathiser”, “anti-India”, “traitor”, few of them even demanded that he be impeached also.
Looking at the raked up controversy the Vice President’s office had to issue a press release then which underlined what is the protocol in such case. It said that when the national anthem is played, the Principal Dignitary and persons in uniform take the salute. Those in civil dress stand in attention. During the Republic Day Parade, the President of India, as Supreme Commander, takes the salute. As per protocol, the Vice President is required to stand in attention.
Both these cases where a concerted attempt was made to denigrate the office of the Vice President brings into sharp focus the modus operandi of the RSS and its affiliated organisations. They have no qualms in spreading falsehoods, stigmatising communities, breaking procedures, targeting institutions. With each passing day one is witnessing that their voices are becoming shriller and adamant.
The only option before every sane voice in this country at present is to remain constantly vigilant so that their machinations to further their majoritarian agenda receive challenge at every juncture
Perhaps it high time to remember the famous lines of Dr. Rahat Indori (which found mention in an appeal circulated by NRIndians Forum :
Jo aaj saahib-e-masnad hai kal nahi honge
Kiraayedar hain zaati makaan thodi hai
Sabhi ka khoon hai shaamil yahan ki mitti me
Kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai
(Those who are holding reins of power today would not be there tomorrow
They are on rent and it is not their own house
Everybody’s blood is immersed in this land
India does not belong to a particular individual)
Subhash Gatade is the author of Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi (2010) Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India,(2011) and The Saffron Condition: The Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neoliberal India(2011). He is also the Convener of New Socialist Initiative (NSI) Email : firstname.lastname@example.org