BJP must apologise to freedom fighters

BJP must apologise to freedom fighters

Yatnal's attack on Doreswamy is a new low in the party's discourse.

We should have perhaps expected that it would come to this – calling the freedom struggle a “staged drama” and calling freedom fighters “fake” – the day the BJP’s top leadership started calling those who opposed it ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘tukde-tukde gang’ and the like. Such poison, such intolerance, such arrogance had to seep into the lower levels and then rise through their veins to the top floor in their bodies. And the ever-present desire to please the likes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and rise in their esteem makes these history-challenged persons who have become ministers, MPs and MLAs to blabber any nonsense about anybody, without bothering to look in the mirror at themselves and introspecting.  

One day, Uttara Kannada MP Ananthkumar Hegde calls Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom struggle and Satyagraha a “drama” staged for the benefit of the British. The BJP leadership does some public drama of asking him to explain his remarks, and then does nothing to correct his propaganda, let alone punish him. And so, when one errant member of the Parivar goes unpunished, others take the cue. So a Basanagouda Patil Yatnal calls a much-respected freedom fighter, 101-year-old H S Doreswamy, one of the last of that brigade of legendary sons and daughters of India, a “fake freedom fighter” and even a “Pakistani agent” – all because Doreswamy has made it clear that he is no Modi ‘bhakt’. We can proceed to defend Doreswamy, who as an activist even at his age has taken on the Congress and JD(S), too, on issues like corruption, the steel bridge proposal, dumping of garbage in villages, etc., but he needs no defence. Certainly not against the likes of Yatnal. Indeed, Doreswamy’s widely regarded by people and politicians as Karnataka’s conscience-keeper. The leadership of any other party would have felt ashamed of the level of discourse of their party men and women.      

And it gets worse. The “Go to Pakistan” remark for anyone who opposes Modi and his government’s policies or actions has become passé for even these self-proclaimed ‘nationalists’. They have now graduated to calling for those they call “anti-nationals” to be shot dead. Bring a law to shoot them dead on sight, Agriculture Minister B C Patil says; shoot them dead without trial, says Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan; shoot them dead and let them go to “Jannat”, says Yatnal, clearly implying that anybody who opposes Modi or BJP is an Islamist Jihadi. Such is the mentality and messaging that resulted in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh, not to mention the Delhi riots. Let’s hope the BJP leadership wakes up before it is too late to retrieve the idea of India and the image of India. It must start immediately by punishing the likes of Hegde and Yatnal for their remarks and by collectively apologising to Mahatma Gandhi, Doreswamy, all freedom fighters and the entire nation.

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