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OPINION

If the Bollywood's ‘Gang of Sixty’ cares for secularism, it should vote for Modi…

If the Bollywood ‘Gang of Sixty’ REALLY cares for the survival of secularism in India, they should vote for Narendra Modi. Do they really care for secularism? They don’t. The names in Anjum Rajabali’s list are usual suspects, the leftists, Islamist bigots, Modi-baiters, secularist sloganeers, and a few others who will sign on any document without reading and mulling over its content out of a sense of cronyism. I'm also surprised to find the name of a devious and corrupt activist of dubious credentials Teesta Setalvad in that list. She is the one who has been bribing, and tutoring witnesses and partying with money given to her for helping the riot victims and may soon be cooling her heels in jail.

Secularism is not their concern.

Had it been their concern, they would have appreciated what Narendra Modi has done in Gujarat. He has set a shining example of secular governance. It’s worth emulation by everyone from Manmohan and Mulayam to Maya and Mamata. Gujarat is the only state where religion does not play any role in governance. Modi has even done better than Ashoka the great in this regard.

Ashoka was a Budhist yet he looked at his citizens with an equal eye whatever creed they followed. However, he actively preached and promoted Budhism and this was the main reason for the spread of this Indian creed beyond our borders.

Modi has not done that. He has neither preached nor promoted Hinduism. He has not made Gujaratis more religious. He has not built majestic temples. In fact, he demolished and removed temples when they came in the way of urban planning and renewal of Gujarat.

Modi has provided jobs without looking at the religion of job seekers. And today Gujarat has more Muslims in government jobs in percentage terms than the community’s share in the state’s population, a sterling achievement in comparison with the dismal record of other states. An average Gujarati Muslim is far richer, much better educated, and gainfully employed than his/her counterparts in other Indian states governed by secularist political dispensations.

This is only to prove that as far as secular governance is concerned Modi’s record is unmatched and unparalleled in post-independence India. Then what is it that drives the Bollywood hate-Modi campaigners who seem totally unconcerned about blatant appeasement of Islamists by Modi’s political opponents and religious bigots and their overt attempts to polarize Muslims and Christians against Modi in the name of secularism? Here is the answer.

The secularists, some deliberately and some out of there idiocy, are promoting causes so close to the heart of the sworn enemies of our nation. One of these causes is to see India in a constant state of political turmoil. The other one is to break India and destroy its essentially pluralist polity. The ‘Gang of Sixty’ consists of individuals who practice and promote ideologies essentially inimical to pluralism. Do Islamists, leftists, and Naxals care for pluralism? They don’t. However, Narendra Modi does care for it. He believes in the co-existence of a billion philosophies and ideas. He constantly preaches ‘Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramyaah’  (Let everyone be happy and disease free) and practices it too.  He appeases none and seeks justice for all.

This appeal also has another incendiary consequence intended or otherwise. It is designed to divide our nation. Look at the utterances of these Modi baiters. They say things like ‘If Modi becomes PM, I cannot live in India’. This is a mild one. The others go for blatant fear mongering. ‘There will be riots all over India if Modi becomes the PM.’ ‘India will be divided again.’  They say these things ignoring the fact that Gujarat has not seen a single sectarian riot and is the most peaceful and the safest state of India.

In this process, they have created a 1946 like environment when Jinnah played his Islamist card and mooted the idea of Pakistan. It created an unprecedented Hindu-Muslim divide. Hindus and all nationalists stood by the Congress party, which was termed as a Hindu party and Gandhi was called a Hindu leader then. Muslims largely went with Jinnah. Do the secularist zealots want the nation to head in that direction through their intemperate talk – creating a permanent chasm between communities? 

They use most uncivilized vituperative language for an obviously popular leader. They try to insult and run him down in every possible way and keep raising their ‘war pitch’ and as they do that Modi gets more and more popular.

His appeal transcends caste, creed, region, language, age, and gender divide today. He has united the nationalists from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, holding aloft the banner of economic growth, development, good governance, prosperity, and peace. In his intensive and extensive political campaign since the past six months never ever has he veered from these themes.  

On the other hand the Modi opponents keep coming back to divisive themes and have done their best to communalize these elections, probably hoping Modi to respond similarly. An intensely focused Modi has kept his cool in spite of grave provocations. Is his restraint strategic? No, it’s not. He is driven by certain convictions and nothing can exemplify it better that what he did in his Gandhi Maidaan rally at Patna. He saved Patna and prevented a serious communal conflagration from taking place and exhorted Hindus and Muslims to come together and fight poverty instead of fighting with each other. That speech changed many a heart. However, the secularists continued their tirade.

Now look at how far the secularist zealots can go. They don’t mind injecting the communal virus into our army.  What the Gang of Sixty has done is as terrible as what Aazam Khan did by dragging army into his appeasement and vote bank politics. The Gang of Sixty has divided the industry into Modi supporters and opponents by issuing a partisan appeal bracketing Modi and his supporters as communal. This has never happened before. The industry has exercised restraint in taking political sides.  The Gang of Sixty has branded as ‘non-secular’ the likes of Lata Mangeshkar, Paresh Rawal, Salim Khan, Anupam Kher, Kirron Kher, Vivek Oberoi, Tushaar Kapoor, Vivek Agnihotri, and countless others who would like Narendra Modi to lead the nation.

Their appeal is like the ‘Fatwa’ issued against Salman Khan by some clerics and his film Jai Ho just because he met Narendra Modi and had lunch with him. Incidentally, none of these celebrated names stood up for the bold and brave actor at that time.  They tacitly supported the ‘Fatwa’ against one of their own. And now they have issued a ‘Fatwa’ of their own.

It looks like a desperate move and a last ditch effort to put hurdles in the way of Modi. One is certain it will do more damage to the credibility of our Bollywood maulanas than to stop the triumphal march of Narendra Modi.

Rajesh Kumar Singh