News channels and political parties have been tremendously busy for the last few days, not only in churning out breaking news related to the recent ink attacks, but also expressing concerns over the idea of India, which according to them is under threat due to “rising intolerance under Modi Govt”.
Popular news anchor Barkha Dutt also pitches in to hint that ink is the new blot on India’s democracy
In summary, a couple of incidents in which protestors blackened/inked the faces of politicians reflect rising intolerance, a blot on democracy, a suppression on freedom of expression, and threatening the very idea of India itself!!
Before I proceed further, let me make myself very clear here. Any form of physical attack, be it ink attack or face blackening or shoe throwing or even abusing are highly condemnable. Having said that, what I am really suprised about is the selective outrage of media, celebrities & secular politicians who perceive the same/similar incidents differently, depending on who is at the receiving end, and/or depending on who is in power at centre.
Let me illustrate with examples. Rewind back by few years, back when Congress was in power at the centre, precisely at the time when there were a series of shoe throwing incidents which had not spared even the Congress VP Rahul Gandhi!!
Did we see any media outrage or did any party attribute these to the “growing intolerance” & blamed Centre? In fact, parties like AAP which call themselves torchbearers of honest, clean & ethical politics, actually rewarded such radicals by giving them LS tickets, let alone condemning such acts.
Barkha Dutt, who is now concerned that ink has become a blot on democracy, was actually trying to wash off such shoe attacks by hinting them as “legitimate” protests by the “marginalised” and even hosted shows speaking in favor of the “marginalised”, thereby indirectly justifying such shoe hurlings.
So, how is it that a series of shoe hurling incidents under Congress rule never bothered anybody and were even justified, but a couple of ink protests recently have turned India into a “fascist land with growing intolerance under Modi Govt”?
I think most of the secular liberals would now say that shoe hurlings & ink protests are different leagues altogether and cannot be compared at all. Ok, fine then, let’s come back to ink protests itself.
Today, a general air of perception is being built to portray ink protests as something which had never happened before and is being promoted by intolerant Modi Govt. Following is an example of how influential personalities like Sanghvi & Gul Panag are using sarcasms to invariably attribute such ink protests to Modi.
Can we step back for a moment and recollect events from not so distant past? Have we forgotten the series of ink attacks on Swami Ramdev in 2012 when Congress was in power?
Were there any outrage about growing intolerance when Swami Ramdev was attacked?
In fact, Gul Panag, who is now making sarcastic tweets to take potshots at Modi for “growing intolerance”, used to enjoy such ink attacks back in 2012 and had even mocked Swami Ramdev when he was attacked.
So, how is it that influential personalities who were never bothered about such ink protests during Congress rule and used to subtly justify such protests, now suddenly feel threatened due to similar ink protests under Modi Govt? Is it because the ink on Swami Ramdev was secular ink (hence acceptable to the media & secular parties), whereas the ink on Rashid is communal?
In another incident from 2010 under Congress rule at centre, when a social worker blackened a rival political leader’s face, Congress went on to hail him as a hero, instead of condemning such an act.
How is it that blackening faces of rivals were considered heroic acts (but never considered as intolerant acts) under Congress rule, while the same incidents are now considered blot on democracy by the same Congress party and further linked to “growing intolerance under Modi?”
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been innumerable ink protests and listing all of them would require a book altogether. However, following are some of the popular ink attacks from the recent past, which were surprisingly not considered intolerant.
Let me again clarify that I am not in favor of ink attacks, face blackening, shoe hurling etc and a debate on the credibility of such protests is beyond the scope of this discussion. All that I am trying to analyze & question here is the selective outrage of media & secular parties which were least bothered about such protests in the past (under Congress rule), but have now been building a public perception of so called “growing intolerance” around these hyperbolic & sensationalized incidents in a desperate attempt, linking it to the so called “fascist” Govt under Modi which according to them is suddenly “a blot on our democracy” & is “threatening the idea of India”.
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