Anupam Kher: Stop scare-mongering on Modi and freedom! If you're talking so much of 'freedom of expression', you do have it!

Acclaimed actor Anupam Kher decodes the huge electoral win by Narendra Modi, addresses fears of rising Hindutva and shrinking freedom of expression, and outlines what the govt should do on Kashmir.

 |  7-minute read |   26-05-2019
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On BJP’s mandate;

It’s actually the people's mandate. But I feel it is also reflective of the disconnect which the opposition had with the people and the connect the BJP had on ground level. It is a victory of delivering what is promised, in terms of development and it is also making people feel aspirational.

Mr Modi himself is a great aspirational example — if a boy who was a chaiwala coming from a humble background can work hard and can rise from a mere worker in a party to the chief minister of a state for 15 years and make a difference and then be the Prime Minister of the country, people see that possibility. They are moved and inspired. And importantly, his attempt to have a very clean system and his direct approach with the people, I think that worked.

In contrast, as I saw it, the opposition had no blueprint, no vision — their only thing was, let’s get together and remove Mr Modi. This was not an agenda for the country. They had no vision for the country, their vision only got translated into their wanting to have personal gains.

On not having a proper opposition now;

You can’t have an opposition for the sake of opposition! It is done by the electoral formula, done by people voting out those people.

They were the epitome of corruption, they were the epitome of intolerance towards a man who was successful and won in a democracy. So, what was the hatred for him? There is no case of corruption against his government in the last five years; there is no huge unrest, etc.

These parties have demolished themselves. When the BJP was in opposition, it was a very formidable opposition. But this has been done by the people to these groups.

On filmmakers opposing Modi;

They have their own democratic rights, that is opposition. The opposition did not come alone from only political parties; along with them, there were teachers who signed petitions, actors and filmmakers.

My view is that despite all that, if a mandate — and such a historic mandate — has been given, then it is the choice of the people.

filmmakers-pti-insid_052519042254.jpg'Filmmakers opposed Modi. Still he got a historic mandate. It's the choice of the people.' (Photo: PTI)

The fact is, the people rejected all that because there was a design to it. They wanted to discredit the democratically elected leaders without having an alternative on what they think can be done for the country.

To say he is intolerant and he is dividing the country, when, on the ground, nothing like that was happening, is unfair. In fact, Muslims must have voted for him, that’s why he has won with so much majority. Even other minorities have voted for the BJP. The whole idea of triple talaq was a positive for women.

We may think these problems were small, like the toilets issue and bank accounts. But the fact is, India is not a cosmopolitan state where people have uniform access to basic facilities. Or where certain urban editors think that India should be run like this.

On Shabana Azmi trolled for congratulating Modi;

We are all going through some trolling or the other! It is her democratic right to congratulate or canvas for anybody. I personally feel that their canvassing for Kanhaiya Kumar, well, there was something a little odd about it.

azmi-twitter.jpeg-in_052519042357.jpg'It's her democratic right but I personally feel Shabana should not have campaigned for Kanhaiya Kumar.' (Photo: Twitter)

Going by reports, Kanhaiya did belong to the gang which apparently said, Bharat ke tukde tukde. Technically, of course you may say that it was not proved, etc. But I was a little surprised.

Still, everybody gets trolled these days, who does not? Even God gets trolled.

On fears of Hindutva;

Did you see a rise of Hindutva in the last five years? Did Narendra Modi become the Prime Minister due to a Hindutva agenda? The only agenda is that he has reached out to the people.

This once again is one of those conspiracy theories which people have already started — let’s plant this 'Hindutva' notion. This is all rubbish.

This paranoia should end with the results. Narendra Modi has included everybody in his vision. Did any Hindu-Muslim riots start in the last five years? If Bharat Mata ki Jai bolna and Vande Mataram bolna is Hindutva, then I think it’s very sad that people think like that.

On freedom of speech; 

If this perception continues, there will be no proper opposition for the next 50 years. Unfortunately, they are following the same path again, saying ‘Ab barbaad hojayenge’ (we’ll get destroyed), hum darenge (we’ll be scared).

For God's sake! The person who has won has won on the basis of his work! And the fact is, all filmmakers are making the movies they want to make, yet they are signing petitions, saying that BJP should not come in power. So, basically then you think the people who are saying BJP is good, people like Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar, are they idiots just because they are saying that they are very happy with the prime minister?

It’s high time people stop misusing all this talk of freedom of expression. The fact that we are talking so much of 'freedom of expression', that means we have freedom of expression! What more do you need?

On Rahul Gandhi;

I think he needs to start from ground level. He has not actually worked — which is the office he has worked in as a worker? He has just been made a title-holder, from general secretary to president of the party.

He needs to know and understand India. He needs to get rid of the sycophant friends around him and have a look at ground reality.

Attacking Narendra Modi is not politics.

rahul-pti-inside_052519042553.jpg'Rahul Gandhi should start from ground level — and get rid of his sycophant friends!' (Photo: PTI)

To my mind, the loss of Amethi is the biggest wakeup call that anybody can have. I’m so proud of Smriti Irani!

On BJP's promises to Kashmiri Pandits;

I hope they work on those now — and they remove Article 370. I truly hope so. There are possibilities. I see a plan by the government to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits. Let’s hope this government does that.

In Kashmir, it’s the terrorists who are creating unrest. I’m a victim of the terrorism that saw four lakh Kashmiri pundits thrown out by militants.

Today, in Kashmir, we are finishing off these militants because of this government. Separatists are inside jail — at least something is happening.

Yet, the elections are also happening, Farooq Abdullah has won, there is democracy. It’s time that people stop being cynical and let the government do their job because it’s a democratically elected government. Any intelligent person should learn from results like this — if terrorists were being unnecessarily targetted in Kashmir, they would not have won by this kind of margin.

And on a career in politics;


Not yet — but I’m happy with Kirron ji’s victory. Again, she has won because she has worked hard for it. All the propaganda that opposition people were saying, that she doesn’t work and doesn’t stay in Chandigarh, all rubbish!

People have voted for development, for nationalism and for their aspirations coming true.

(As told to Rohit E David)

Also read: A Hindutva Tadka: How Yogi Adityanath added a dash of heated Hindutva to PM Modi's campaign



Rohit David Rohit David @rohitedavid

Senior Assistant Editor, DailyO

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