By Abdul Bari Masoud, MM News
New Delhi: Noted academicians and intellectuals have come out in open to oppose communal and fascist forces warning that the country would be bogged down by pogroms and violence if Gujarat’s controversial chief minister Narendra Modi came to power. Interacting with the media at the Press Club of India here on Monday, eminent Kannada writer and Jnanpith awardee U R Ananthamurthy said an atmosphere is being created to allow Modi to rise and even media and liberals were doing it. He was flanked by Planning Commission member Dr Sayeda Saiyidain Hameed and litterateur Ashok Vajpeyi. While Ashok Vajpeyi said the present election is fight between uni-culturalism and multi-culturalism as India’s civilization is deeply rooted in religious and cultural diversity.
They have expressed concern over the rise of Hindtuva politics while underlining the need for defeating the BJP in the coming general elections. Ananthamurthy accused influential sections of the media of manufacturing consent in favour of Modi in the ensuing elections. He said he will fight these forces till his last breath. Ananthamurthy, who had said he would leave the country if Modi becomes Prime Minister, said those remarks were made when he had been “overcome by emotion”. He clarified that he had no such plan saying that he would “remain very much in India and swim against the current if communal forces that take hold of power at the Centre”. He said India is going through “a period of consent’ under which dissent against Modi has been overlooked.
Opening the debate, Ananthamurthy slammed BJP’s ‘strong India barb’ saying that the idea is discriminatory, a reference that, he feels, disenfranchises tribals and other smaller identities. “I don’t want a strong nation, but want a supple (Sarvodaya) India”. He clarified that a “supple” government can meet diverse demands rather than a strong government which would impose homogeneity.
He said the media and liberals have not adequately pointed out the danger the country faces if Modi comes to power. “There is a fear of violence… But it can also happen slowly in an invisible way that we go on changing and the whole Indian character will change… That is much worse than bloodbath and things like that,” said Ananthamurthy. On Gujarat’s ‘developmental agenda’, he said, “Modi’s developmental agenda will fail the idea of India”. Citing the examples of US and China, he said both countries are strong as they both wipe out their tribal population that can happen in India if fascist forces come to power. “If Modi comes to power it may result in a “shift in our civilisation.” “I have a feeling that we may slowly lose our democratic rights or civil rights, when there is a bully. But much more than that when there is a bully we become cowards,” Ananthamurthy said. When asked whether he feared that the country would be bogged down by pogroms and violence if Modi came to power. He quipped “Yes, that is a basic fear”.
Ananthamurthy said BJP always speaks lies as former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said he is drawing Rs 1 lakh salary as the chancellor of Central University. He said he never took any salary when he was with National Book Trust and Sahitya Academy. He also made it clear that his preference was AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi and the Congress in Karnataka in order to defeat Modi.
Coming down heavily on the media, Ashok Vajpeyi said corporates were taking a part openly in the elections and raised question over the source of money in the polls. He also asserted that there is no Modi wave as the media want to make believe it. “I don’t comprehend what sort of wave is sweeping the country as 1989 elections the country did not witness any wave”. The election debate has come to such a low that genuine issues have gone to back-burner, he said.
Syeda Hameed said Modi has built its ‘development narrative’ on falsehood. She quoted data to show the failure of Gujarat on human development index. Gujarat was behind other states in many key areas, she added.
Ananthamurthy and others were invited by the Press Club of India. Its president Anand K Sahay said the interaction was meant to give a wider perspective to media persons.