28, Oct 2015
Writers were not blind to ‘love jihad’ or ‘ghar wapsi’. Our agitation was not manufactured.
by Keki N. Daruwalla |
As dust settles over the anti-Sahitya Akademi protests, certain questions hang in the air, unanswered. Why did politicians see a hidden political knife somewhere in this unrest? Why did they feel insecure in front of toothless but not voiceless writers? What turned a protest coming from cultural and human unrest at the Akademi’s apathy into something with political trimmings and tassels? Why on earth did scribes go after writers? What part did the akhara-and-dangal politics of TV channels at primetime play in this affair? And, for a lover of Greek tragedy, what role did hubris and Nemesis play in the whole affair?
Obviously, space restricts me from detailed answers. A large segment of the political class fears writers and thinkers, just as fanatics in the Middle East feared sufis. The political knife came into play because of the murders on the ground — Mohammed Akhlaq and the Dalit children. Not just that. Writers were not blind to “love jihad” and “ghar wapsi” and other such manufactured movements. Our agitation was not manufactured. Nemesis, the goddess charged with checking presumption, strode in even as the culture minister dismissed Akhlaq’s mob-murder as “an accident”.
I observed the fall of the Morarji Desai government closely. One reason was the conflicting statements made by leaders. The public couldn’t stand it. The other reason was that Vinod Pande, a good astrologer (and later, cabinet secretary), predicted that Desai would fall by July 17, 1979. Politicians took record-breaking leaps from the sinking Janata ship. The hypocritical excuse they trotted out was that they wanted no truck with the Janata party members belonging to the RSS. The Jan Sangh segment, incidentally, had by far the best ministers in the cabinet — Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani, who spoke less but worked excellently. The government fell two days earlier than predicted by Pande. I was special assistant to Charan Singh at the time.