Few people stop to
consider it, but division is a natural state that teaches us the importance of
the old saying, “United we stand, divided we fall”. It’s not altogether bad,
then, if you have a plan with what to do afterwards. The thing is that divisive
sentiment is not all that rare, so when someone rails about conspiracy theories
to divide communities, we need to look at the evidence carefully. In this
country we are all free to say whatever we like, subject to some exceptions of
course. I’ve been in so many situations where the persons speaking to me
(haranguing me, more like) is not listening to my response at all. They’re just
banging on about what they believe I’m guilty of, usually something criminal,
in intention if not action. In short, they’re pushing only their point of view
because their feel their story is the only one that matters. My explanation is
usually dismissed with contempt. But that’s all right for them because I have
nothing worth hearing.
Let me say I have nothing against this. It’s normal when two people or two sides are arguing, whether in school or in Parliament. My friends in the opposition always begin with the premise that we have nothing worth saying, we have done nothing worth praise. And I must admit that we’re not very far behind. But hyperbole is very much a part of democracy (Americans go a lot further than us), we are all individuals with our own ideas of how the world should be ordered. At the same time we should not forget that we have things in common as well.
The hard truth is that there are many divisions among us and there is no point pretending otherwise. That is how we were exploited by our alien rulers in the previous 20 generations to keep us under control. Also, some of these aliens are still among us though they are not ruling anymore and it is both unfair and mischievous to accuse me or other well-meaning people of hate speech when we point this out. What we’re saying is that there are many threats to our way of life from within the country and without, and we should face them united. There should be no objection to that if everyone feels part of the whole. If they don’t that could become a problem. Are we wrong to point that out?
About this unity business, I feel that we’re strong individually but we could be a lot stronger if we showed more solidarity and behaved like a team. It’s a thing we realise only when we actually come together as one. This is a bit like all those strands of thread on a loom before the weaving starts. The threads are placed according to a plan, so the weaver is working to produce a design that has already been worked out. Without that they are just so many disparate threads, easily snapped, easily replaced, weak in their separateness.
Just look at China, it spans a continent, three times our size, spread across five time zones. Actually, they have only one time zone, one language, one script, one party for unified direction. And see how far they have gone in the last 30 years.
Once that cloth is woven, though, it’s a different story. The threads are part of a larger framework, much stronger for the bond, and indivisible. No one sees the blue thread or the yellow thread but the whole cloth where each strand has its place. You see where I’m heading with this? This is what causes all the trouble. When these liberal bleeding hearts whine about how we spread division, all we’re doing is to point out the differences, in faith, in language, in diet and in political affiliations. And how much stronger we would be in our determination for the nation. We’re not mocking these different people or marking them, we’re simply trying to, okay, let me explain.
Just look at China, it
spans a continent, three times our size, spread across five time zones. Actually,
they have only one time zone, one language, one script, one party for unified
direction. And see how far they have gone in the last 30 years. Even standing
still, they move quicker than most societies. The wealth they have created both
inside and outside the country is incredible. And it has happened because China
has a single leadership with a singular vision. They don’t pamper religious
That is what I’m talking about and that is what we’re trying to achieve. I have nothing against minority religions and minority beliefs. I do wish, though, that they were more compatible with us. That’s the gist of our message to them but they spin it into a saga of hatred. All we ask for is a little tolerance but what we get is a recital of irreconcilable differences. It can be frustrating; more than one of my friends have suggested importing a made in China steel hand to show them the error of their ways. I usually smile at the suggestion. Obviously we can’t do it their way, we’re an open society. And, really, we don’t have to, there are other ways that suit our anarchic temperament better.
But however we go about it, we do need a master narrative, like an overarching roof to show that we’re Indian. There’s nothing sinister about the project, it’s like singing in harmony. The trouble is our, well, neighbours, want to sing a different tune. They don’t understand that without a common plan we are left only with confusion about direction and ambition. We’ll be returning to the lost decades. Have you ever seen a cart with five yokes, with five horses hitched to them? No, and the reason is that it would be a complete disaster. But let me stay with this a little longer, there is more to explain.
instance, used to be the buzzword for a long time, even though it gradually
shifted from its original motive of redistribution of wealth and power to
handout state. It became the Great Equaliser, making everyone equally poor and
equally miserable. But while it lasted, everyone was on board that train until
it went off the rails, making a bad situation catastrophic. The point is that
everyone sang that song, even if badly. To our great sorrow, only some people
join in our hymn to the future. We sing of prosperity for everyone, with
everyone but there is a loud silence from some sections.
This is where some of our more devout friends have gone overboard, trying to rope in the reluctant and recalcitrant. They may have resorted to force in their enthusiasm. I don’t know, the jury is still out, the verdict is pending. Now, I’m not excusing the coercion or the violence that has been exercised, however noble the objective, but maybe there were mitigating circumstances. We should look into this matter deeper before we condemn our brothers and sisters. They are among our most sincere and honest supporters and we should stand by them in this hour of trial. But I will say this; if the law finds them guilty we will accept whatever burden the courts lay on them. We are, after all, a nation of laws.
My friends, patriots and citizens, I hope you understand that we are moved not by hatred but inspired by a vision that our greatest sages have articulated so eloquently. Who doesn’t want to see their homeland bloom like the lotus in the morning sun? This is why we try to persuade all patriots to join the common cause. Their faith doesn’t matter, only their single-minded devotion.
We are divided. No one
can deny that. I speak as one who has spent over 30 years in that maze, trying
to find a way out of it. Believe me when I say that the only way is unity, a
lesson we have been patiently repeating for more than half a century. We are
willing to show everyone a way of life that is in tune with our deepest cultural
traditions and at the same time ensures that the larger interests get first
place. As you can see, dear friends, this message is finally getting through to
our brothers and sisters everywhere. A patriot who had the public interest in
his heart would applaud us, though we are only doing our duty, but we have been
relentlessly abused, reviled and vilified, sometimes physically assaulted, by
interests who say we are trying to destroy the diversity that is a hallmark of
our history. If only they heard themselves.
Diversity is one of our outstanding attributes and greatest strengths. We have never denied it. We may be the only country with 22 official languages and more than a hundred other major linguistic groups, more versions of the Ramayana than fingers on our hands. We celebrate these and other differences but there is diversity and there is division that is the prelude to chaos. Our critics seem blind to this last development, which we have watched with dismay in the last 40 years even as we doggedly continued with our mission praying that Bharat would wake up before it was too late.
The illusion was masterfully spun but, as a great man said, you can fool all the people for some time only. People finally realised that what they were seeing was wholesale appeasement masquerading as diversity. Their response since then has been hearteningly forthright. The deceivers are getting their just deserts. And what have we got? More abuse, more lies and more doublespeak even as more and more of them echo our sentiments, blissfully unmindful of their hypocrisy. What do you think would have happened if we hadn’t done our duty? We would have been universally hailed for subscribing to the delusion of a carefree bacchanalia of fellowship. We chose the hard way and we paid the price, gladly.
Was it painful, our prolonged ill treatment for pointing out the obvious? It was, but we don’t regret it for a moment. It was necessary to run that gauntlet for we had a message to deliver. We are grateful, dear friends, that we were able to get it to you in time and also that you knew what to do with it. The reward for our toils has been more than we ever dreamed of but we know that you have also given us your trust and a great responsibility. I can make you only one promise. It is graven on our hearts and we will treat it as a sacred mission. If we fail it won’t be for want of trying.
My friends, citizens and patriots, you have given us your marching orders and we will move heaven and earth to make your dreams come true. That is a solemn promise. We will allow no obstacle deter us from our path on which we will always be guided by the Constitution for we are above all a nation of laws.
I can’t stress this point enough, for our
ill-wishers are trying to paint a picture of a ruling party that has contempt
for law and order. We are accused of using the police and other agencies to
target and hunt down political opponents, foisting cases upon people who don’t
agree with us and overlooking the sins and crimes of our supporters. In short,
they are accusing us of promoting a combination of Animal Farm and 1984
(I do read sometimes), in complete disregard of the Constitution. My normal
reaction would be to shrug and brush off the lies and get on with the job. But
I think you deserve better, dear friends, so bear with me for a while.
When we first took office in 2014 we swore to clean up a system where corruption had become the normal mode of operation. Everything had a price, everything could be bought, including the nation. All that was needed was an open wallet and the patience for negotiation. There were so many hungry mouths to feed that someone was always in line. If the investor was adventurous enough he could shop for the best bargain. Let’s say the fertiliser minister needed a cash infusion. You could offer to help in return for a licence to set up a plant, or pretend to set up one, import the product and sell at a premium or as a Made in India product. Or maybe health insurance seemed a better bet because of a vast new government scheme. Perhaps a coal mine offered a more secure opportunity. They were nothing if not flexible; they believed in options for the customer. Well, we put a stop to all that. Since we took office there has not been even one media report of government corruption.
That was not enough, however. We had to do more for this cycle would stop only when the offenders were caught and punished. When it is clear that crimes have consequences, fewer people will be ready to take the risk and we will be able to restore the sense of rightness in public life. So we launched a series of prosecutions against the suspects, and guess what? A lot of them had been ministers in the previous government or powerful civil servants. The moment we began investigations there was predictable outrage from the suspect parties of persecution, witch hunt, using government agencies to harass, frame and muzzle anyone who had the courage to stand up to us, and so on.
We welcome different opinions, we always have, see our record. It’s just that when there is a threat to national security or law and order we can’t just stand by. It’s our duty to take action.
Bogus theatrics, dear
friends, but you know that. Still, when it goes on without pause the clearest
minds get clouded by doubt. When weeks and months pass without filing charges
two kinds of suspicions emerge. One is that there is no evidence and that we’re
desperately trying to hang on through procedural delays, the other is an
impatience with all this preoccupation with appearances, followed by a demand
for summary action.
To the second line of thought I can right away say “Sorry, we don’t do this, we have to follow the law to the letter.” I have said many times that the Constitution is our guru, our secular Gita that applies to everyone regardless. We cannot ignore it merely to secure a conviction here or there. And besides, how is it fair to demand a conviction in violation of the facts? That too is corrupt practice.
As for the first, only someone who has investigated financial offences can understand how difficult it is to find clinching evidence. These transactions are neither recorded nor booked, there is usually no paper trail or anything leading to the crime, only suspicious circumstances. So we file requests for more time to investigate, pass the case from one agency to another that is better equipped, longer interrogations, pleas opposing bail lest the suspects tamper with witnesses and evidence, and so forth. Some of these things seem to be denial of justice but, really, we’re just trying to preserve the integrity of the case. In addition, I must stress that my government has followed court orders to the letter even where grave matters of national security were involved. The only cases we have filed are those that might lead to a conviction and every action we have taken is strictly legal. In any case the court is our master in this instance. Whatever they order, we do that.
There is a lot of talk in some sensitive circles about the frequent use of tough sedition laws and prohibitory orders to crack down on dissent but I take exception to that. We welcome different opinions, we always have, see our record. It’s just that when there is a threat to national security or law and order we can’t just stand by. It’s our duty to take action. The problem is that the word “duty” is something a lot of our liberal friends really don’t understand. It means sometimes you have to do things you don’t like because there are no good options. Our own deepest cultural traditions tell us that an errant child must be shown the right path. We believe that if you spare the rod you spoil the child. So though our ways may seem brutal, at bottom we are activated by a loving concern for people who don’t know better.
I think it’s also time I clarified our approach on something else that makes our liberal friends apoplectic, arrest and denial of bail. I must point out that we don’t deny bail, we have no power to do so. We simply request the courts to that effect in the case of suspects who we believe have the potential to disrupt public order. We have no interest in arresting or detaining people for long periods in jails that are overcrowded to begin with. Sometimes, though, we need that interval to convince suspects to mend their ways and give up their more refractory friends. If the court agrees to the extension, is it fair to blame us for presenting a strong case? That is our duty, after all, carrying out the court’s orders.
We have been accused, dear friends, of politicising faith and using it to drive a wedge between communities. But all we did was practise it and with pride. We made it clear that we knew where we belonged, unlike the secularists who loudly denounced the exploitation of faith for political mobilisation while doing it themselves through so-called minority outreach, with promises of protecting their interests. As if anyone needed any protection over and above what the law offers and the Constitution guarantees. These people were the originators of and, at one point, masters of communal politics, but the public sees them for what they are. Their days are over but they still keep pointing the finger at us, as if anyone is going to believe them now. It makes me sad to see the gibbering ghosts of a movement that define us for a long moment in our history, and sadder that we have no worthy adversary to keep us on our toes.
We are embarked on a great journey to raise our country above all others and we will definitely make mistakes on that road. It is made all the harder when there is no one to correct us. But we will persist, with your grace and support, dear friends. You have given us the honour and the burden is a heavy one but we will carry it for as long as you endorse us. I hope your blessings will be with us.