Trolling Hamid Ansari is shameful

The outgoing two-term vice-president of India put his finger on the pulse when he mentioned the ‘unease’ that many feel in this day and age.

 |  7-minute read |   10-08-2017
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As the two-term vice-president of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, retires today, August 10, after a glorious, and latterly tumultuous stint as the ex-officio chair of Rajya Sabha, he faces the same old toxic trolling that he’s perhaps now used to.

Ansari, one of the most distinguished public office-bearers in the country, has been targeted because the man has spoken his mind in an important and urgent farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha today. Ansari also said in an interview to veteran journalist Karan Thapar that there’s a “feeling of unease among Muslims” in this day and age, and the “ambience of acceptance [is] under threat”.

Ansari, in his Rajya Sabha farewell speech, said that “democracy can become a tyranny if the Opposition is not allowed to criticise the government’s policies”. He said the Upper House chair (which he was) “is just an umpire in cricket and not a player, and its only sourse of reference is the Rule Book”.

Adding that the “Opposition has the right to disrupt the House”, Ansari underscored the importance of democratic dissent and criticism within and outside the government, within the legislature and shadow legislature. This is significant, because many have taken a simplistic view of the Opposition’s questioning of the government on various issues political and sociocultural issues, and have tried putting “functional hours” of Parliament over and above civilised debate and existence in every sphere of the Indian society.

But Ansari was putting his finger on the pulse of the matter when he implied that minorities feel a sense of “unease”, while speaking to Thapar. He said there’s a “breakdown of Indian values”, “breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and overall the very fact that Indianness of any citizen [is] being questioned is a disturbing thought”.

Ansari correctly pointed out that “a sense of insecurity is creeping” in the Muslim community, which is apprehensive now more than ever in the 70 years since Independence. The outgoing V-P said the hoopla over nationalism was “unnecessary” and that “I am an Indian and that is it”.

It’s extremely important to mention here that Ansari has been a vocal critic of triple talaq, and even as he’s being trolled, accused of being a “mullah”, of being an “ungrateful Muslim”. The constitutional nationalism of Hamid Ansari, unfortunately, is lost in translation as the Sangh-driven din drowns out voices of sanity.

Sickening displays of rabid Islamophobia had a field day as the BJP-RSS social media battalion trained their collective guns at Ansari because he made the bitter diagnosis of what’s ailing India in 2017. As history is being whitewashed to erase Mughals from our textbooks, as the stalwarts of freedom struggle are erased from memory while the RSS, which sat out the Independence movement for it saw the Muslims and Christians, not the British, as the real invaders, paints itself as the deliverer, Ansari’s speech and interviews spelt out the trouble in the politest possible manner.

So, of course, the swarms of Sangh-affiliated trolls latched on to malign Ansari as the “ungrateful Muslim”, the “closet jihadi” and what not.

Sample these:

There were the ubiquitous admonitions that “despite being a Muslim”, Ansari was “allowed to become” the vie-president of India. Hidden in this narrative is the disgusting, fascist assumption that Muslims aren’t equal citizens of India, and that they can only be “allowed” to prosper, not as a matter of equal rights.

Even the most cherished Muslim president - the late APJ Abdul Kalam - had to face the “despite being a Muslim” quip from Union minister Mahesh Sharma.

The bile that poured in from some of the public figures was unbelievable.

In an interview to the Indian Express, Ansari said how “inclusive development” and “inclusive nationalism” are being compromised in India at present. He said:

“Now we know we do not have a national language. We have regional languages, we have official languages. When I was the Ambassador of India and I wanted to convince people for the diversity of India, I would keep in my wallet a Rs 100 note. So I could show not just the English and Hindi but the array of languages listed on it and show it to everyone. These languages listed on the note are not dialects but languages and of a certain pedigree. So that is the complexity and diversity of India and you have to live with it. We don’t eat the same food, we don’t have the same customs.”

It’s interesting that Ansari lauded PM Modi’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” motto, but he cautioned that the reality might be different because a narrow version of nationalism is being propagated these days.

Modi, however, praised, summed up, Ansari’s stint in these mixed metaphor of words:

Also read: Why should Hamid Ansari prove his patriotism?

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