My article carried by DailyO.in - influenced in part by the well-documented India Today campaign in this regard- urged Modi to take an emphatic stand against the anarchy that some anarchist elements have unleased, hiding behind cow hides.
To me it is gratifying that the prime minister has spoken, albeit late. What matters is that he has spoken. And spoken, as Modi speaks.
It is unfortunate that the reactions from the mouthpieces of various parties are negative and nervous. Their eagerness to denude the PM's stand of any ethical merit or political sincerity is, to me, as reprehensible an ethical lapse as the atrocities against Dalits themselves. That is because, the underlying purpose is to paralyse the political will to bell the cat.
|Dalits were beaten up in Gujarat's Una on July 11 for skinning a dead cow.|
One cannot help feeling that the opposition parties that have spoken up in haste, are worried that Modi's words might arrest the atrocities! They were, I dare say, secretly rejoicing that Modi's silence was burning his tongue.
They knew only too well the enormity of the Dalit issue in the precarious permutations and combinations of Indian politics. They were eyeing the three forthcoming crucial state elections with a sort of lip-smacking glee. They knew that the only way they could get the better of this Niagara-tongued orator was to let him slide to the edge and fall off.
They did not have it in them to worst him at the electoral game, otherwise.
Those who show mercenary over-eagerness to stymie the stand of the PM should be ready to be confronted by the people of India. We do not belong to any party. We only want to live in peace and to be justly and wisely governed.
Why has this simple, bottom-line expectation today become an ever receding mirage?
The opposition parties that accuse the PM of "delay" in taking cognisance of cow-vigilante-anarchism must answer the question: Why didn't they, if they were concerned at all about this issue, put up a joint and determined front to resist the death-dance of anarchy, which is what it was?
Why did leaders of various parties visit Una on different days, under different colours, forcing the rest of us, who are party-neutral, conclude that their only aim was to milk Dalit misery for mercenary political gains. If there is anything more reprehensible than brutalising helpless Dalits for plying their traditional trade, it is the unscrupulous exploitation of their misery for political gains and the unwillingness to do anything towards eradicating this atrocity?
What we expect from opposition parties is not their needling the ruling party, which they are free to do. But that doesn't interest or benefit us one bit. It only worsens our apprehension that problems will never be solved and that this charade of political saber-rattling will go on, in utter indifference to our needs and woes.
Well, there is a reason why the parties now aggrieved by the PM's denunciation of anti-Dalit atrocities waited in impotence till he spoke. All of us know what it is. None of them has the moral authority to take the issue head on.
As of now, we know no party that is above prostituting Dalit misery for political gains. It is our accursed tragedy that there is no credible voice -like that of the Mahatma or Vinoba Bhave - that carries conviction in the public space. The lamentable predicament of Dalits in this country amounts to a deafening denunciation of all political parties, including the Congress.
Some of the Congress leaders were at the forefront of hounding me, for opening up a little space for Dalits within the precincts of caste and class privilege that St. Stephen's had been degraded into, over the years. I challenge any one of them to stand in the public space and, hand on heart, say that they care for Dalits.
If they think that the rest of us are foolish enough to confuse their enmity towards BJP for their love for Dalits (or, the rest of us), they not only cheat Dalits but also insult the intelligence of the rest of us. This must stop.
How do these political soothsayers know that the PM is insincere? He may well be. But only time will tell. It is irresponsible and unethical to damn anybody in public on the basic of attributed intentions. Intentions are never in evidence in the given context.
They bare their bosoms only in the future, near or distant. Only when these bosoms are bared, do we know if they are leprous or lovely.
When a person is damned merely on the basis of his intentions, it means only one thing. Those who do so are insecure that the intention in question might be true!
This self-seeking, mercenary anxiety hides its ugly face behind a crowd of ghosts of the person's past failings. On what basis can they, or anyone else, conclude that Modi's silence for nearly two years is the assured proof of a habitual insincerity?
Pardon me, we are living in desperate times. (Not that there is anything particularly wrong with "times", as such. It is human depravity that infects time with desperation.) We are like a drowning man who, in his desperation, clutches at even a piece of straw.
The PM's statement is, at least, one such straw. For goodness' sake, please allow us hold on to it. If it snaps in the next twist of the political screw, or is lost behind the rolling waters of time, we will count it as our misfortune. Haven't we, after all, lived with many a misfortune these many decades? Well, it doesn't matter to us if one more is added to that already long and seemingly interminable list.
Thank you, prime minister, for speaking up. We hope, for the sake of our country, that you will live up to your words.
A man is, you know, only as good as his words. And his words, only as good as his deeds.