Where does the spirit of democracy lie?text_fields
American journalist Sabrina Siddiqui's question in the only press conference held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last nine years and the ripples it created have once again sparked debates about democracy and minority rights in India, as much in India as abroad. It was clear that one of the prime agenda of the Prime Minister's US visit was an image building at international level in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The organizers have seen some success in planning and implementing the necessary campaigns. But their calculations were upset by the unusual anti-Modi campaigns that emerged from civil society organizations in the United States. And none less than former President Barack Obama too warned in a television channel interview that minority rights must be protected in India, otherwise it will harm the country, a comment that was least palatable if not irritating to the BJP. After the Prime Minister's pause before answering the question of the American journalist Sabrina Siddiqui about what steps have been taken to protect the rights of Muslims and minorities in India and to uphold the freedom of expression, and the international media picked up that, the BJP unleashed a fierce cyber attack, abandoning all the spirit of democracy.
While Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh are the top leaders of the party who came forward against Obama, their IT wing and its head Amit Malviya are leading the cyber hunt after Sabrina. It eventually took the White House itself to come forward to condemn this intolerant, anti-democratic cyber attack. A few days after the Prime Minister's return, a statement of concern about democratic values came from the White House, but unfortunately only the ruling-Sangh Parivar leadership failed to grasp the extent of the damage to India's image all this caused. US National Security Council Co-ordinator John Kirby said that they were aware of the reports of that torture and added, "It’s unacceptable, and we absolutely condemn any harassment of journalists anywhere under any circumstances. It was antithetical to the very principles of democracy that were on display last week during the state visit". The statement contradicted the Prime Minister's claim that Hindutva India has the DNA of democracy. What the BJP leadership really needs to answer is why the Prime Minister is unable to face a natural enquiry that can be raised by any journalist who observes the social and political happenings in India.
It is clear that the Prime Minister, who has nothing to say about Manipur where communal riots have been going on for two months, is so vocal about the Uniform Civil Code only to add fuel to the campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Consequent Muslim hatred is likely to break barriers In the days to come. The Prime Minister raised the issue in Bhopal. The Prime Minister is using the Uniform Civil Code as a tool of Muslim hatred, skillfully hiding the fact that it is not only Muslims that oppose the Uniform Civil Code. And adding triple talaq and the Kashmir issue to the electoral recipe is not accidental but part of a definite plan. A meeting of more than 30 tribal organizations held in Jharkhand the other day requested the Law Commission to withdraw the legislative move stating that the Unified Civil Code would destroy their tribal identity and encroach on the rights of tribals. By obscuring the fact that all minority communities and different sections of the majority religion do enjoy the protection of civil law, the Prime Minister is directly becoming a propagandist of extreme Hindutva. It ratifies the criticism that he is dividing the people of the country and sowing the seeds of division and hatred among them. The spirit of democracy should not be expressed in words but in deeds. Threats of intolerance are calls for mob violence, whether in cyber space or amidst the mob. They do not bring justice, nor will democracy flourish there. No one's rights will be fulfilled. They only serve to spread hatred like wildfire, as seen in Manipur.