Across the Aisle by P Chidambaram: The Gramophone Company

Francis Barraud, a Liverpool native and painter, had a brother named Mark. Marc passed away. Francis inherited a cylinder phonograph player, recordings of Mark’s voice and Mark’s fox terrier named Nipper. When Francis played the records, the dog ran to the gramophone and listened intently with a confused look to where the voice was coming from. Francis painted the scene and called it “His Master’s Voice”. The Gramophone Company bought the painting in 1899 for £100. The logo became so popular that the company changed its name to HMV eight years later. Nipper was immortalized in London in 2014 with his own blue plaque.

not in the margin

When I read last week that two BJP spokespersons were subject to disciplinary action (Mrs Nupur Sharma was suspended and Mr Naveen Kumar was expelled from the party), I remembered Nipper’s story. Without intending any disdain, I would like to refer to the duo hereafter as Nupur and Naveen. On June 5, Nupur received a letter that began with the words: “You have expressed views on several matters that are contrary to the party’s position”. It left me wondering what is the

BJP’s stance on matters concerning Muslims and Christians who are citizens of India?

Nupur and Naveen are loyal foot soldiers of the BJP and listen carefully to their leaders. As many of you observe, read and listen Nupur and Naveen. For example, in the 2012 election campaign in Gujarat, they heard Mr Narendra Modi say, “If we raise the self-esteem and morale of 50 million Gujaratis, the plans of Alis, Malis and Jamalis will do us no harm.” They would have wondered who the Alis, Malis and Jamalis were, who the “us” are and why would the Alis, Malis and Jamalis make plans that harm “us”?

Memorable words

In the 2017 elections to the UP state legislature, the prime minister summed up his views on sabka saath, sabka viswas in a memorable speech: “If you create a kabristan (cemetery) in a village, then a shamsan (cremation ground) would become There should be no discrimination.” The words must have left a deep impression on Nupur and Naveen.

They heard the words of Mr. Amit Shah on April 11, 2019. He said, “We will ensure implementation of NRC across the country. We will remove every infiltrator from the country except the Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs… The BJP’s promise is to get rid of the infiltrators… The illegal immigrants are like termites. They eat the grain that should go to the poor, they take away our jobs.” Nupur and Naveen must have been convinced that these were the right words uttered by the right person in the right place.

On December 15, 2019, at an election rally in Jharkhand, the prime minister said the people who “caused trouble” were “recognizable by their clothes”. Nupur and Naveen probably listened to that speech; and may have decided to identify people by their clothing.

During the UP Legislative Assembly election campaign, Prime Minister Adityanath said repeatedly: “The competition is much more advanced. The battle is now 80 against 20.” Nupur and Naveen must have heard these words and it must have burned into their consciousness that the “20%” was the enemy.

No one doubts the BJP’s position on Muslims which can be traced back to MS Golwalkar (“Guruji” in the RSS). Muslims are not wanted in India or in the Indian parliament and the legislature. Of the 375 BJP MPs in both Houses of Parliament, not a single Muslim MP will be by the end of this month. The BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate in the elections for the 403-member UP assembly or the 182-member Gujarat assembly. In 11 states with a BJP prime minister, there is one Muslim minister. Since Mr SY Quaraishi retired in June 2012, no Muslim has served as Election Commissioner in the EBI. The list is long.

In my opinion, Ms Nupur Sharma and Mr Naveen Kumar have faithfully expressed the views of the BJP on various matters. They listened to the Master’s voice and spoke in their own way.

The BJP is the modern Indian The Gramophone Company.

Deaf ear doesn’t work

The opposition, including Congress, had repeatedly warned the BJP and the government of the fallout from its anti-minority policies and phobia. They had warned the government about the anti-Romeo squads, the love jihad campaign, CAA, NRC, the repeal of Article 370, the anti-conversion laws in the state legislature, raising non-issues like hijab, halal and aazaan, the Uniform Civil Code and many other things that are clearly Islamophobic. The government was deaf. Now, when the UAE and 15 other countries condemned the statements of the BJP spokespersons, the government is cracking down on its defense. The Secretary of State’s heavy artillery has been withdrawn and the Secretary of State’s dexterous drafts have been brought into play.

The sad truth is that the Prime Minister has not uttered a word of condemnation. He thinks he can handle this storm too. And life goes on. The truth is that political life in India will not continue to the exclusion of 202 million Muslims. This time it is not the opposition but the world that Mr Modi has warned.


Twitter: @Pchidambaram_IN

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