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”.
#HamidAnsari might be bashed for Yoga day and National Anthem issues but his wife had been a real support on #tripletalaqBest wishes both! pic.twitter.com/34IMLAYXUv— Geetika Swami (@SwamiGeetika) August 10, 2017
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.
#HamidAnsari just proved that how much ever India gives to Muslims they will never accept it as their own countryForever cribbing mullahs https://t.co/KH4l9tWGtB— Archie (@AcridArchu) August 10, 2017
#HamidAnsari & his socialite Begum had denied to help 8 yr Cancer Patient Muslim girl on 24 August'16, But now staying Muslims are unsafe. https://t.co/gBLsNe1oJr— Prashant P. Umrao (@ippatel) August 10, 2017
For #HamidAnsari"Nationalism is Anti-Islamic"Congress made him VP & everyone knows which ideology he was promotinghappy he is thrown away pic.twitter.com/DJ55nA3fJ4— Republic Of India (@RepubIicofIndia) August 10, 2017
For 10yrs my Hindu majority nation accepted you with open arms, placed you at the pinnacle of power & you still feel uneasy? Agenda kya hai? https://t.co/Z8pzWddTG0— Priti Gandhi (@MrsGandhi) August 9, 2017
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.
Sir #HamidAnsari is right when he says Indian muslim is scared..See how a innocent muslim forced to bcm VP for 10 yrs & enjoy luxurious life— Paresh Rawal fn (@Babu_Bhaiyaa) August 10, 2017
History will remember #HamidAnsari as aberration for VicePresidency of India,he always thought himself as Muslim & Communist,than an Indian!— Ashok Garekar (@DrGarekar) August 10, 2017
#HamidAnsari after enjoying office for 10long years he got enlightened dat Muslims are in fear?y was he quiet in malda?aren't Hindus humans?— ☬SINGH ਰਾਜਪੂਤ☬???????? (@HatindersinghR) August 10, 2017
"If They Build I Will Bomb Ram Temple" ~ Haji Mehboob#HamidAnsari Thank the Hindus who tolerated this nonsense inspite of being a majority— susmita chakraborty (@sush091979) August 10, 2017
When #HamidAnsari had refused Tilak/Aarti at a Dushera event,had he forgotten he is not only a Muslim but V-P of all Indians? #Ungrateful— Vijay SP (@vsp888) August 10, 2017
The bile that poured in from some of the public figures was unbelievable.
Will not be surprised if #HamidAnsari joins #Hurriyat.— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) August 10, 2017
After enjoying iftar parties in Rastrapati Bhavan, his era ends and he is feeling unsafe. Hypocrisy at its best. Hamid Ansari— KashmiriPandits News (@kpnewschannel) August 10, 2017
#HamidAnsari today proved how #Congi's have nursed & given important chairs to such dangerous #AntiIndia communal people.— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) August 10, 2017
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:
One minute. That is all it takes PM Modi to sum up #HamidAnsari in Rajya Sabha as he retires as VP of India / Chairperson of Rajya Sabha. pic.twitter.com/HfIVaY5FDT— Akhilesh Mishra (@amishra77) August 10, 2017