Yesterday, certain Bollywood personalities led by my very dear friend and renowned scriptwriter Anjum Rajabali, issued an appeal to public at large.
In their appeal, simply put, they have warned us that India is in grave danger from divisive and communal forces led by a ‘man-they-won’t-name’ (read Modi). These A-lister personalities have reaffirmed their faith in secular nature of ‘their‘ India. They have appealed to all Indians to stop these communal forces by voting only secular parties. In order to save India’s cultural diversity, its pluralism and above all ‘Sickularism’.
Because India is vulnerable.
Suddenly, it reminded me of Indira Gandhi’s era where she always cautioned us about looming dangers from CIA conspiracies. Then Rajiv Gandhi started warning us against foreign elements trying to destabilise India. Sonia Gandhi led UPA has brought us to this. Where Indians are pitted against Indians.
I am saddened and very angry. Armed forces and Bollywood are India’s two most secular institutions. Mr. Anjum Rajabali and his ilk, in their obsession with Modi-hate have betrayed the film industry. I am sorry your appeal has obfuscated us more than enlightening.
I have few questions and I am sure you would like to answer to help me help India.
1. I am going to vote for Modi. Am I secular? Or communal?
2. I have decided to vote for the only man who says repeatedly that India is his religion and her Constitution is his holy book. If I vote for ‘that-man’, how will I threaten the secular fibre of India? Pl. enlighten.
3. Millions of Indians (read Hindus) love Modi. They respect him. Adore him. And some also worship him. Like many worship Shahi Imam of Congress. By hating their leader, calling him a grave danger to India, aren’t you playing a communal card? Aren’t you questioning the judgement of millions? Aren’t you hurting the sentiments of millions? How is your appeal secular?
4. Secular, as I understand means that religion should not play any role in governance. If it’s true then why were you quiet for last 10 years when the ruling party was continuously giving alms to Muslims? Did you and your fellow signatories utter a word when PM MM Singh said that minorities have first right over natural resources?
5. You say India is vulnerable.Yes. I agree. India is vulnerable to Maoists & Naxals. (Coincidentally, I see a lot of your signatories have certified Maoist leanings), terrorism, poverty, unemployment corruption and crumbling institutions. What’s your hidden logic that you find ‘secularism’ as the only threat to India? Pl. enlighten.
6. Do you want me to believe that India will collapse if ‘the-man-you-won’t-name’ Modi comes to power. You write – The need of the hour is to protect our country’s secular foundation. Some of you are learned men. Where does this ‘secular foundation’ come from? India was always a Hindu nation. Until it was invaded and looted by Moguls, British and Congress. India has survived that. India is secular because of its Hindu culture. With its millions of Gods and Goddesses and millions of reincarnations, none understands secularism better than the natives of this country. If Hinduism wasn’t secular in its DNA, it wouldn’t have survived for thousands of years. It’s the very secular nature of Hindus that it never ever invaded or attacked any other country or civilisation. Its the Hinduism that encompasses all other faiths and religions and not the other way round. Hindus have let Muslims and British rule us. It’s the Hindu sensibility that has let an Italian run this country for 10 years. There is a Shahi Imam who also appeals to vote against communal forces. Who are these communal forces? Hindus? Or a party which believes in Hindu secularism and is led by ‘The-Man-You-hate‘ who says 10 times a day that his only mantra is ‘Justice for all. Appeasement for none.‘ So whom are you pointing your fingers at? Who is threatening India?
7. Your representatives, in Times Now debate said that they are not pimping for any party. But you are asking us to choose. If its not Modi led BJP, then who do you want us to vote? There are only two national parties. BJP and Congress. Who is secular, according to you? Unless you meant SP, BSP, AIIDMK, LJD, TMC, NCP etc. What is compelling you to talk in cryptic language and not naming ‘the-man’?
8. Mr. Robin Bhatt, your spokesperson, on TimesNow admitted that Modi is secular. Mr. Hansal Mehta, on the other hand, in the same programme, says he hates Modi but that’s his personal opinion. How is it that even before the ink dried up your signatories are distancing themselves with ‘personal’ and ‘official’ positions? Are you a political party? Like AAP? Or lis it that AAP is speaking through you? How can there be two opinions if some passionate ‘saviours’ of ‘art & culture’ have come together for a cause they believe in, so passionately? Is it possible that some people like Robin Bhatt and many others have signed it blindly because of your deep association with them in Writer’s association?
9. Why is it that most of the signatories also happen to be part of the same association that you have very constructively nurtured? I happen to know some of them closely. Are you sure they feel neither obliged nor compelled? Is this their absolute free and conscious voice? If they felt so strongly about India’s vulnerability how come they have never ever uttered a word about politics of any kind? How come they never spoke on social issues, at least?
10. If your fellow ‘secular’ filmwallas feel so strongly about the ‘secular foundations‘ and its preservation, thereof, how come they never uttered a word against Muzzafarnagar riots? Or against Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav? Or Azam Khan? Or Abu Azmi? Did Imtiaz Ali object when Ayesha Takia (ironically, Both started their careers in a film called ‘Socha Na Tha’) to Abu Azmi’s communal comments on a public platform? Why suddenly?
11. I have an observation to make. Why is it that the Leftist crusader of truth, Shri Patwardhan, while speaking only looks down, never looking in the eyes. You are a genius scriptwriter who studies characters. Is this how men with convictions address the most sensitive issue which can shatter the secular foundations of Hindustan?
12. You know Bollywood is the biggest brand India has. People follow Bollywood more than cricketers and politicians. Your appeal has created an impression that entire Bollywood endorses your views. Have you written a disclaimer in your letter that these are your personal views and have nothing to do with Bollywood? Maybe not. But when Media called it Bollywood’s stance did you try to call the same editors to deny it with the same enthusiasm? Or are you taking advantage of a position that was never to be misused for political or personal gains?
13. Do you seriously want us to believe that secularism is the sole issue of these elections? And not development? Are you telling me that hungry, jobless people will ensure more communal harmony then well fed, employed people. Do you seriously mean that a corrupt India, lawless India, uneducated India and a weak India has better chances of preserving ‘secularity, inclusiveness & pluralism’ than a modern, educated and strong India? Or is it that like many Maoists/Naxals/ Leftists you also see development as biggest threat to their own existence and their political agenda?
14. Shrimati Sonia Gandhi also issued an appeal few days ago. Is it a coincidence that your appeal is reinforcing exactly the same? Can you vouch it for yourself and the other signatories that none has ever been beneficiary of Congress’s alms? And that noone of you have any vested interest in what you appeal? And that you have no political agenda? And none is firing from your shoulders like did with Arvind Kejriwal? If not, where was the need to get organised and send an appeal in such a hurry? Did you send this mail to all listed film professionals or just to those who you knew will sign either blindly, or would use this opportunity for their own agendas?
(I know the above question may upset few of your secular signatories but I must ask as the 15 crore young Indians are going to vote for the first time and they are vulnerable. I just want to ensure that they don’t feel cheated later.)
15. Last but not the least, I have two young kids in a very impressionable age. Next time if we happen to meet what should I tell them… “this is your secular uncle? Because he did not vote for Modi.” Is that the only thing you have reduced yourself to be called a ‘Secularist’?
In conclusion, my fellow film makers, I’d like to make a small correction in the mission statement of your appeal where you write:
“However, one thing is clear: ‘India’s secular character is not negotiable!
Not now, not ever.”
I find it narrow and rhetoric. Hence, I’d like to make a small correction and modernise it to suit the aspirations of millions of Indians:
“However, one thing is clear: ‘India’s United character is not negotiable!
Not now, not ever.”
And also add: