The attitude of the ruling party and the government towards Dr Hamid Ansari who stepped down as the Vice President of India after serving for ten years, is disrespectful, to say the least.
Not only was Ansari shown the respect that should be given to a person retiring from a Constitutional position, but the Prime Minister and the incumbent Vice President humiliated him in different ways as well. Ansari’s statement that there was a feeling of unease and a sense of insecurity creeping in among the Muslims amid rising incidents of intolerance and mob rule, was what irked the BJP. What followed was a combined attack. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said that Ansari’s statements were part of political propaganda. In the official farewell given to Ansari in the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Modi displayed his ‘decency’ by arriving late as well as leaving early. He taunted the outgoing Vice President saying that his ‘scope remained limited’ and that he could now enjoy the freedom to think, work and talk according to his basic ideology. While BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya struck hard questioning Ansari’s dignity asking whether he was looking for ‘political shelter’ after retirement, VHP joint General Secretary Surendra Jain likened him to Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Above all, surfaced many derogatory remarks by the Sangh Parivar on the social media.
While speaking at the annual convocation ceremony at the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, Dr Hamid Ansari had spoken about India’s present scenario expressing his concern over ‘enhanced apprehensions of insecurity’ among the Muslim, Christian and Dalit communities. With cow politics and communalism of the majority community taking the form of violence, he was hinting about many not getting the protection of law. Later, he was interviewed by television anchor Karan Thapar for Rajya Sabha TV just before stepping down. Ansari during the interview spoke about the growing fear among the Muslims of being unsafe due to vigilante violence and intolerance. He quoted the words of Dr S Radhakrishnan, the first VP and the second President, in his farewell speech- ‘A democracy is distinguished by the protection it gives to minorities. A democracy is likely to degenerate into tyranny if it does not allow the opposition groups to criticise fairly, freely and frankly the policies of the government’. Unwilling to take in these criticisms as well as refuting them with facts, the BJP has proved the criticisms right by jointly attacking the person who expressed those criticisms.
It would be good to analyse whether the behaviour of the Prime Minister towards somebody who served as the VP for ten years, befitted his stature. Modi was portraying Ansari as a mere Muslim without highlighting him as a Muslim. When Modi said that Ansari’s tenure as a diplomat in West Asia, then as the VC of the Aligarh Muslim University and later as the Chairman of the Minorities Commission, his work remained limited in a particular area, the intention is clear. Through the usage of words like ‘same kind of people’ and ‘same kind of ideology’, it’s also clear as to who he attempted to otherize. Concealing the fact that Ansari served as the ambassador not only to the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, but also to Australia and forgetting the fact that he was the Permanent Representative of India to the UN might not be due to sheer ignorance. Anyway, it wasn’t Hamid Ansari sharing the apprehensions of the Indian citizens, who displayed sectarianism and narrow mentality. The nation expects words and deeds that’s essential to eliminate those apprehensions, from the PM. It’s futile to believe that the intolerance towards criticisms would increase the country’s glory. The leaders of the nation standing firm for the people according to the Constitution and advising the government as and when required isn’t unusual; it’s the intolerance displayed that’s unusual. Vajpayee who was the Prime Minister during the time of Gujarat genocide had sharply criticised the Modi government in Gujarat then. Many including K R Narayanan had voiced the economic and social issues for the people against the government. If even criticisms aren’t allowed in the present scenario, then that certainly proves that Hamid Ansari’s statement holds true.