Do you know who Rohit Pradhan is? Neither do I. But apparently Outlook thought it fit to carry this nonentity’s sorry excuse of an article against Narendra Modi, a poor imitation of Salil Tripathi’s eminently venomous piece in Mint last year. We’ll get to that later but first we need to strip the first five paragraphs of Rohit Pradhan’s 1017-word long textual bile to unmask what it really is: naked communalism. While we’re at those first five paragraphs, check out these gems:
Lionized by a deviously clever PR machine and an invidious personality cult, Modi…the wily chief minister…he is a pedestrian chief minister…
Rohit Pradhan’s pathetic sleight-of-hand attempt fools none. By repeating the “arguments” of the “critics” of Modi’s development by peppering them with his own “invidious” and “wily” masala, he sets the stage to bash Modi in his own sad way. In the process, he trips all over the place, over contradictions of his own making and reveals himself as a Muslim vote bank-mongering communalist.
Of all things, he picks on the 2002 Gujarat riots. Rohit Pradhan is pretty late in the game. The Gujarat Riots Cottage Industry has been milked for all it’s worth and the udder has dried up. Even Teesta Setalvad wouldn’t take Pradhan’s article seriously now. But then fools rush in where angels fear to tread etc and so we’re treated to this laughable line:
It is true that the Gujarat strongman has not been convicted in a court of law and it is possible that he may entirely escape legal punishment.
Did it ever occur to Rohit Pradhan that “not being convicted in a court of law” also means found not guilty by law? Which is where we get the first hint that Pradhan’s piece is tinged with communalism. In his communal worldview, lack of conviction means “escap(ing) legal punishment (sic).” How? Because it’s Narendra Modi under whom
2002 represented a massive administrative and moral failure. Modi’s subsequent actions—whether his inability to apply a healing touch or his attempts to protect the likes of Maya Kodnani—reveal a troubling lack of basic humanism and moral scruples.
This never ceases to amaze me. The likes of Rohit Pradhan sitting on King Solomon’s seat of judgment and lecturing people about morality. To do that, Rohit Pradhan at the very least needs to show us exactly one evidence to prove that 2002 was a “massive (sic) administrative and moral failure,” and his assertion that Modi protected Maya Kodnani. Unless Rohit Pradhan is dumb or ignorant or doesn’t read the papers, Maya Kodnani was sentenced by the courts. Equally, Pradhan needs to understand a basic truth: “healing touch” or forgiveness is sought when someone has wronged another person. Given that every inquiry all the way up to the Supreme Court’s SIT giving Modi a clean chit, why does Rohit Pradhan and his ilk want Modi to seek forgiveness for a mistake he hasn’t committed?
But then, with such assertions of value judgements, Rohit Pradhan invited us to examine the record of the Institution he is affiliated to, and of which he is a Fellow. We shall do that soon.
Before that, we shall examine the first of his several essay-length contradictions.
The strongest argument against Modi is…that he is seen as the face of 2002 riots. He is viewed as emblematic of India’s unfair treatment of its minorities; a thin veneer of secularism hiding an ugly face of Hindu majoritarianism.
Sure Modi is “seen” and “viewed” as all these things in just the same way that I “see” and “view” Rohit Pradhan as a dimwit who can’t make a reasoned argument; in the same way that I “see” and “view” Rohit Pradhan as a Hindu hater and in the same way that I “see” and “view” Rohit Pradhan as someone filled with baseless hatred against Narendra Modi who has appeased no caste or community or sect so far, and in the same way that Rohit Pradhan’s Institution is emblematic of Think Tanks’ misleading representation of their stated goals; a thin veneer of Indian National Interest hiding an ugly face of Muslim appeasement.
And then in the very next line, he says:
Now, it would be unfair to blame Modi entirely for this troubling state of affairs.
In which case, why does Rohit Pradhan characterize him as emblematic of Hindu majoritarianism? Does Rohit Pradhan even know what real Hindu majoritarianism would entail? It would entail the fair and even sympathetic treatment of Muslims by Hindu kings—even the iconic Krishnadevaraya had a copy of the Koran kept next to his throne as a symbol proclaiming that he treated Islam with equal respect. Like him, almost every Hindu king gave grants to and allowed Muslims to build mosques and practice their faith without fear. And as things stand, Muslims in Gujarat are much better off compared to Muslims in other states. Rohit Pradhan also needs to show us evidence of exactly one riot or criminal act against Muslims under Modi’s decade-long dispensation. Just one. (Tehelka’s doctored reports and fake sting ops don’t count.) And this in a state notorious for Hindu-Muslim riots, all of them under Congress rule. Indeed, a Vastanvi heaping praise on Modi says a lot.
This then seems to be the ire of the likes of Rohit Pradhan. Under the guise of criticizing an imaginary threat of “ugly” Hindu majoritarianism, they want Muslims to be mollycoddled; they want Muslims to be treated as second class citizens instead of as equals who can compete on the strength of their merit; they want Muslims to be afraid of Hindus and they want special privileges for Muslims because they’re minorities—aren’t minorities human beings?; they want the Indian state to tax the majority to subsidize the minorities; they want the Indian state to privilege one group of people at the expense of the other based not on reason or need but religion. Why?
The hint to the answer lies in Rohit Pradhan and his Institution’s support for the worst elements of Muslim separatism, with the Owaisi brothers leading the charge. In his own words:
There is a real danger of Muslim dissatisfaction with the Indian democracy and Modi’s accession would only further exacerbate it.
These selfsame words emerged more violently from the mouth of Akbaruddin Owaisi a few weeks ago in a different language. That is the only difference. And herein lies yet another Rohit Pradhanesque contradiction. Elsewhere he says it’s unfair to demand perfection from only Modi, that Modi’s critics are biased, that no other politician has received such severe scrutiny as Modi has, and that it’s unfair to blame only Modi for “this troubling state of affairs.” Given all this, why and how would only Modi’s “accession further exacerbate this state of affairs (sic)?” Of course, Pradhan doesn’t bother answering such trivialities given how lustily he defends Akbaruddin Owaisi and other Muslim separatists:
…it is this environment of grievance and scepticism which promotes the rise of sectarian Muslim parties like the Assam United Democratic Front and Peace Party perhaps reaching its apogee in Akbaruddin Owaisi’s alleged hate speech at Nirmal…The average Indian Muslim may oppose some of Owaisi’s more vitriolic comments but would agree enthusiastically with his litany of complaints against the Indian state.
“This” environment formed the basis of the Muslim League’s call to partition India. “This” environment isn’t unique to India. It is occurring across Europe where entire landscapes have been transformed into violent Muslim-only ghettos, where native people have become aliens in their own land, and where like India, Muslim-appeasing spineless politicians have wetted their pants in face of the threat of brute violence, and where people like Geert Wilders are subjected to inquisition for speaking the truth. It’s not as if Rohit Pradhan is unaware of all this. Yet the fact that, despite this, he terms Akbaruddin’s naked hate speech as “alleged” says a lot about Rohit Pradhan’s perversely communal mindset. People like Rohit Pradhan are Owaisi-enablers. Barely 10 minutes into the speech, Akbaruddin oozes hatred against Hindus, against India, against Hindu Gods and Goddesses, against everything Hindus revere and needless to say, against Narendra Modi. Is this why Rohit Pradhan jumps in to defend Owaisi? Rohit Pradhan has the moral responsibility to explain how all of this—recorded live—is merely “alleged.”
If Rohit Pradhan is honest, he would have made the full disclosure that Takshashila Institution of which he is a Fellow, once courted Asaduddin Owaisi, the elder brother of Akbaruddin Owaisi. Indeed, the founder of this Institution boasted of a “stimulating exchange of idea with MP Asaduddin Owaisi, over a fine Hyderabadi dinner.”
The Takshashila Institution calls itself an independent and non-partisan body which pursues the Indian national interest unambiguously. It’s clear to anybody who has traced its evolution that today it has been reduced to something that’s slightly better than the Congress party’s and by extension, the English media’s mouthpiece. From an ill-informed bashing of the mythical terror of Hindutva to whitewashing Islam’s historical atrocities on India to glossing over the violence wrought by illegal Bangladeshi immigration to defending Government clampdowns on free speech to apologizing for vile separatists like the Owaisi brothers, the Takshashila Institution has simply echoed the Congress party’s line. Entirely “non-partisan” positions. And given this record, one wonders how Rohit Pradhan, a Fellow of this Institution, has the gumption to give a lecture in morality and scruples to a constitutionally elected Chief Minister. Don’t you have any shame or decency, Rohit Pradhan?
But there’s worse.
…former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may not have enjoyed widespread support among Muslims but was not treated as an enemy either. Call it what you will, but it is this ‘Muslim veto’ which makes Modi unacceptable as India’s next leader.
Rohit Pradhan again echoes His Master Akbaruddin Owaisi’s Voice. Recall Owaisi’s speech, his hate-filled call for “25 Crore Muslims of India” to unite and show the Hindus this selfsame “Muslim veto.” Except that his language is unprintable. Pradhan’s line taken independently of Owaisi’s speech is still alarming. In effect, he’s saying that unless one—Modi in this case—appeases Muslims, he can’t become India’s next Prime Minister. Why does Rohit Pradhan want India to remain hostage to his own vile coinage of a “Muslim veto (sic)?” How does it serve the Indian National Interest that his Institution claims it pursues? But then it’s entirely consistent with Pradhan’s twisted worldview—Narendra Modi is perhaps the only politician who has appeased no constituency, who has transcended vote banks. But Rohit Pradhan wants him to genuflect before the Muslim vote bank. Why?
There’s still worse.
Even if the promise of a high Modi-led growth is accepted at its face value, it is simply not worth risking the fraying of India’s multiple fault lines.
And here lies exposed yet another facet of the hypocrisy of both Rohit Pradhan and the Institution he is a Fellow of. The Takshashila Institution and its founder are big advocates of free market capitalism and are vocally against Governmental interference in business. And here’s a Chief Minister whose refrain happens to be Minimum Government, maximum governance, a slogan which is accompanied by a record of impressive achievements both in development and governance. And Rohit Pradhan argues against it. Why?
But what Rohit Pradhan is really saying is this: it’s okay if the Indian people are impoverished by a band of daylight robbers, it’s okay if they go back to the Socialist Seventies of Severe Shortages, it’s okay if their freedoms are trampled upon, it’s okay if tens of thousands of illegal immigrants imperil both safety and economy…indeed any atrocity and any Government-made calamity is okay but Narendra Modi shouldn’t become the Prime Minister. That then it the crux of Rohit Pradhan’s poisonous piece.
How can you face yourself in the mirror, Rohit Pradhan?