What Rizvi has to learn from Gagandeep Singh

Foremost, my salaams to Sub –Inspector, Gagandeep Singh , who not just saved  a human life in Uttarakhand’s  Ramnagar but also showed that a cop’s  first and  basic duty is to protect, no matter what  the ruling political mafia is up to!  

If there’s even the slightest sense of fair play left in the administrative system, this young police officer  ought to be publicly honoured with a bravery award. After all, he singlehandedly took on a communally surcharged mob to protect a hapless  victim of divisive hatred.

And quite on the contrary, you have  the chairman of the National  Commission for  Minorities, Syed Ghayorul  Hasan  Rizvi , sitting rather too comfortably in his air-conditioned office,  uttering well- scripted  hollow words along the strain that the Modi government was  working for everyone… no  discriminations along  religious  lines, no atmosphere of fear,  all going fine with the  minorities of  India !

No shocker, after all, it’s a known fact Rizvi had campaigned for Narendra  Modi in the Varanasi elections. With that, well rewarded.  Placed on that high slot! Coming up with whatever is perhaps getting ordered by his right-wing bosses.

Last week Rizvi had come  up with an ‘all’s okay’ comment in the backdrop of  Delhi Archbishop Anil  Couto’s stating rather loud and clear  that there’s a  turbulent political atmosphere prevailing in the country which posed a threat to the  very democratic principles…in fact, Couto had written a letter to all parish priests in the Delhi archdiocese  before the Karnataka elections,  calling for a ‘prayer campaign’ ahead of the 2019 general elections.

And though he was verbally attacked on television channels,  he didn’t give in to the rounds of  bullying. He stood strong and determined .Simply saying that he was speaking the truth. Nothing but the truth. How very honest and hitting Anil Couto’s words.

And as the former President of India, Congressman Pranab Mukherjee, is getting ready to travel down to Nagpur to address the RSS recruits on 7 June, I want to ask him a few  basics:  Has he read books on the communal ideology of the RSS? Has he read about the divisive politics unleashed by the RSS? Is he aware of the destructive capabilities of the right wing outfits manned directly or indirectly by the RSS?

In fact, as  news came in, of Pranab Mukherjee’s  decision to address the  RSS recruits, I sat back to re- read his latest book  ‘The  Coalition Years -1996-2012’( Rupa),  to see if I could find traces of his leanings to the   right-wing in the  pages of his book.

I had reviewed this book last autumn, shortly after it was launched, and what I had found to be more than disappointing was the  fact that certain specific communal  happenings like the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 had been left out …no mention of that pogrom in any of the chapters of this book. This, when the Gujarat pogrom is  considered one of those  turning points in the  recent  history of  India which heralded the  blatant rise of the fascist forces in India and the disastrous offshoots.

Perhaps, as  a  seasoned politician, Pranab Mukherjee didn’t  want to dwell on  political  killings and  massacres done by his fellow politicians. No dragging out of skeletons from political cupboards, no revealing of the behind-the -scene plotting,  no clearing of haze from the murky  build-ups, no queries or  accusations heaped  on those sitting in the Opposition.

In fact, as I had mentioned  in my review of this book,  the entire book reads like file jottings, polished and  spruced up to  take the shape of a book. Though  he has been a witness to the political scenario in the country but there is not just a lack of passion in his writings but also lack of his view and viewpoints on the  various political buildups of that phase – 1996  to  2012 . This, when right from the mid-90s, India has been witnessing changing political patterns with the  rise of the  right-wing parties.

He could have taken us back stage, to the backgrounders, to the happenings on the political scenario. After all, he was in the  thick of it for  decades –he entered Parliament at the  age of  thirty -four and rose to become the 13th  President of India.  During his  political  years he had  held various  portfolios-  Minister of  Defence,  External Affairs, Commerce and  Finance. He was also elected to the Rajya  Sabha five times and twice to the  Lok Sabha and he was also  member of the Congress  Working  Committee for 23 years .

In his book,  Pranab Mukherjee does not also dwell on his days at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The book closes with these lines: ‘We left Central Hall in a procession as  before, and  reached  gate no: 5.  This time it was I who took the Rashtriya Salute of the President’s bodyguard and then boarded the car. I sat on the right and the outgoing President Pratibha Patil,  sat on the left. I was seen off by the Vice President, the  Speaker, the Prime  Minister and the Chief Justice of India. In the return procession,  I greeted Sonia Gandhi and other leaders, governors, chief ministers and other guests…Thereafter, the outgoing President was given a farewell salute by the President’s Bodyguard.  Both of us boarded the car, which took her to her new residence in New Delhi. Subsequently, I returned to the  Rashtrapati  Bhavan and went upstairs to the Dwarka  Suite adjacent to  Nalanda  Suite - the first one for me  and the  second one for  Mrs  Mukherjee -  and started  my first  day in Rashtrapati  Bhavan. My entry into   Rashtrapati Bhavan on 25 July 2012 marked the end of my 46-year-old political career which began in February 1966. It had indeed been a long and arduous journey.’

How I wish Pranab Mukherjee had given us, the readers, glimpses if not details of his days as President of India. I do realize the book ends in 2012, but he was appointed President of India in summer of 2012 and so even those five months could have provided ample base for some of those experiences as President of India.