I was in Mumbai last evening with Salman Khan in Bigg Boss House. After taking a break from shooting, I landed in Delhi to cast my vote. At our local polling station, I saw long queues of voters lining up to cast their vote. I was filled with a sense of pride for my country and our democracy. At the same time, there were thoughts brewing in my mind about what is happening in this country in the name of democracy. How is it that our Parliament enacts a law, by majority in both the Houses, passed by our elected representatives, and yet some people and groups say, we will not accept this law.
These protesters claim that they are fighting to defend the Constitution. They are adamant that the government must first withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act and then they will be ready for dialogue. Can anybody be above the Constitution, by holding the national tricolour and carrying the Constitution book on the head? How is it that a law that has been challenged in Supreme Court, on which hearing is yet to begin, is being targeted by protesters who say we will not accept this law and demand that the law be withdrawn first?
What can we say when some people allege that Narendra Modi is a Hitler, a dictator? A mass leader who governed the state of Gujarat for 13 years, after winnings elections after elections, a leader, on whose work and fame, the ruling party won two Lok Sabha elections consecutively, how can that leader be compared with a dictator like Hitler? A leader who is elected by the masses is being called a Hitler, while the leaders who have been rejected by the masses, claim themselves to be guardians of democracy? What an irony.
Remember, Modi was blamed for instigating communal riots in Gujarat in 2002, he was called 'maut ke saudagar' (merchant of death) by a party chief, he was interrogated for several hours by police when he was chief minister, the investigation was done under court supervision, he was lampooned by the mainstream media for years, there were court cases, and ultimately Modi got a clean chit from courts.
And now remember the leader who is calling Modi a Hitler? His grandmother was unseated as member of Parliament by Allahabad High Court, and in order to save her throne, she changed the law and declared a state of emergency. The lady, who threw the entire Opposition in jail, for raising voices against her authority, and clamped censorship to shackle the press. Think about her party, where, except for five leaders, not a single leader or worker raised voice of conscience to protect the Constitution. How can we forget the leader who tore up a Cabinet resolution of his party's prime minister in public? Did he not insult the Constitution on that day? And now, the very same leader who has inherited such a heritage has become the defender of democracy, and Modi becomes a murderer of democracy? Can somebody explain the logic behind this?
A slogan is being raised "Withdraw NRC". How can NRC (National Register of Citizens) be withdrawn, when it has not been introduced at all? And yet these protesters say, if the government does not withdraw NRC, we will not have any talks. Should we not listen to the assurances of our elected Prime Minister that the government would take all sides into confidence, if at all, the NRC is implemented, no proof about ancestors will be sought and that nobody would be deprived of Indian citizenship? Or, should we listen to those who claim that the NRC process is already on and that proof of citizenship is already being sought? Should we listen to those who neither want to read nor listen to reasoned logic? They are parroting a single line, that Modi wants to throw Muslims out of India, that we (Muslims) were silent when Modi enacted triple talaq abolition law and we were silent when he got a favourable verdict on Ayodhya from the apex court. Now, Modi wants to throw us out.
Can somebody ask these naysayers whether Muslim males were persecuted on grounds of violating Triple Talaq abolition law? Was this law, enacted on Supreme Court's order, a blow to Muslim identity? Is this law not meant to protect Muslim women, who suffer when their husbands utter the dreaded word 'talaq' thrice? Similarly, the Ayodhya verdict was given by a Constitution Bench of Supreme Court. Had Modi wanted, he could have bypassed the apex court by bringing a law and hand over the disputed land to Hindus, but he preferred to wait for the final verdict. Modi could easily have taken credit for the Ram temple by bringing a law, but he waited for the apex court to deliver its final verdict. How can this be termed as Modi''s act against Muslims?
Let me point out: those who are stoking fear in the minds of Muslims are not ignorant. They know it very well that the Citizenship Amendment Act is not meant to terminate anybody's Indian citizenship. They also know that when the NRC will be implemented, no Indian will lose his or her citizenship, nor will they be thrown in a detention centre. For those trying to create fear among Muslims, CAA or NRC are non-issues. For them, the real fear is about how Modi has brought about a fundamental change in the political lexicon. Mainstream party leaders are no more visiting Maulanas and local community leaders in search of Muslim vote banks. On the contrary, they prefer not to be seen with Muslim groups and Maulanas. They now fear lest the Hindu voters get angry. It is because of this fundamental change in Indian politics, brought about by Modi, that Rahul Gandhi flaunts his 'janeu' (sacred thread), Arvind Kejriwal is more than willing to recite Hanuman Chalisa in front of a crowd, and Mamata Banerjee recites Durga Stuti from the rostrum at a public meeting.
Since 2014 there were two Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections in all the states, but in none of the elections, Modi sought to pamper the Muslims by offering bonanzas. He did the opposite. In Uttar Pradesh, he did not field a single Muslim candidate, and yet scored thumping wins in both Lok Sabha elections and the crucial assembly elections. For the assembly elections, Akhilesh Yadav joined hands with Rahul Gandhi and jointly campaigned, while for the Lok Sabha elections, Akhilesh Yadav ditched Rahul and jointly campaigned with Mayawati, but all these parties lost heavily. In the state assembly elections, Modi did not field a single Muslim candidate. Modi has changed the game completely. It is not for me to say whether refraining from fielding a single Muslim is politically correct or not. I am only pointing out at the political fallout on other parties. Rahul Gandhi began visiting temples and Arvind Kejriwal avoided going to Shaheen Bagh. Kejriwal went one step further. He stopped making personal attacks on Modi for the last one and a half years, because he knows that he would lose heavily if he does so.
Sadly, Rahul Gandhi has not learnt anything from Kejriwal. At a Delhi poll rally, Rahul alleged that Modi always spoke lies, but he probably forgot that he had to tender an unconditional apology in Supreme Court for telling a lie. Rahul had misled the media and the public by wrongly attributing to the apex court an order on Rafale deal. Rahul should think twice before levelling any allegation. He should know that if you point a finger at anybody, the remaining four fingers in the palm always point to the accuser.
Rahul should learn from Kejriwal. The Delhi chief minister went to the extent of calling Modi a 'psychopath' and a 'coward'. He had also alleged about Modi's 'settings' with Pakistan. But whenever he made personal attacks at Modi, he lost elections. Not once, but thrice. For the last one and a half years, he has stopped making personal attacks at Modi. On the contrary, he recently came out in support of Modi, when a Pakistan minister Fawad Chaudhary tweeted to say that "People of India must defeat Modi madness". Kejriwal quickly retorted with a tweet - 'Narendra Modi is India's PM and my PM. Delhi elections are India's internal matter and we will not tolerate interference from the biggest sponsor of terrorism'. Similarly, when Modi announced setting up of Ram Janmasthan Trust for Ayodhya, the opposition questioned the timing of announcement, but Kejriwal responded by saying that the formation of the trust was a welcome step and it was not proper to question the timing.
What I am trying to say is: if Rahul starts following Kejriwal's steps, he would gain in the larger context. It will help Congress, presently fighting for its survival, to some extent. Difference of opinion is essential in a democracy. Every individual and party has the right to raise its voice, question the government of the day and oppose its policies if it deems so. But, dissent and criticism must not descend to the level of abuses.
To say that if you fail to give jobs to jobless youths, they will start beating you after six months with a 'danda'(stick) is unacceptable. Similarly, dissent should not lead to misleading the common public. While opposing a government's policies, one should not go to the extent of creating baseless fear in the minds of the public and inciting them to resort to violence. Those who swear by the Constitution must understand that their language of dissent should be balanced, based on authentic facts, and their logic should not be based on false assumptions. This will make our democracy strong and vibrant, and the dignity of democratic institutions and constitutional posts will remain intact.