Two weeks before the Gujarat assembly polls, India is today at its worst as far as sanity is concerned.
The ridiculousness of the country- wide protests against the movie Padmavati and the stoic silence maintained by the BJP and Congress leaders even after a bounty was offered on the head of actress Deepika Padukone, have rung alarm bells among the moderate Hindus and the country’s minorities. It is obvious that both PM Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi are keeping mum for the fear that an attack against the rioting Hindu far right wingers might eat into their respective vote banks in Gujarat.
The unravelling episodes of Padmavati saga have made India the laughing stock in the eyes of the international community.The movie is yet to be released. As such, not a single protestor knows how the director has portrayed the character of Rajasthan queen Padmavati in the movie. In the years 1963 and 1964 two movies were screened on the same queen and both went on board smoothly. After all it was Nehru’s India and there’s a world of difference between his India and that of the BJP. That modern India can plunge into the great depths of absurdity is a fact. After all it was just a few weeks back that the international media whacked the BJP government over its treatment of Taj Mahal.
What the world is observing right now is the steady decline of law and order situation and the unbelievable degree of tolerance towards the far right-winger sunder the BJP rule. Ever since his election Prime Minister Narendra Modi made mammoth efforts to project an image of a secular leader to the world. However, his strong Hindutva line became more than apparent with the appointment of Hindu Priest Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Toeing the line with the protestors the Chief Minister also said that director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has hurt the sentiments of the people with the movie.
The hardliner groups have rallied support in at least four states against the screening of the movie. However none of them have seen the movie and almost everyone is going by the rumours. When the trailer of the movie was out last month the only fault the protestors could find was a scene where the queen was seen dancing which they claim was against the tradition.
The bounty was offered for on Deepika Padukone by one Suraj Pal Amu, the chief media coordinator of the BJP in Haryana. While someone who claims to be a Bhansali fan has lodged a police complaint, Amu the latter has challenged the police to arrest him if possible. If this is not enough he has threatened to cut off the nose of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee if she allows the movie to be screen in Bengal. The BJP top brass continues to maintain silence over his behaviour.
The row over Padmavati was initiated in January by the Rajasthan based local Hindu outfit Karni Sena with an attack on Bhansali during the movie shooting. Later an undercover investigation by India Today magazine exposed that the group ran a massive extortion racket gleaning crores of rupees from movie makers.
The State of Rajasthan has very little to pride itself over today other than as a tourist destination abundant with ancient palaces and forts. Otherwise the modern Rajasthan epitomizes everything that India would want to hide. Of the 36 union states and territories it occupies the top three slots in crime, corruption and rape. It is also a state with one of the lowest female literacy rates. Surely this status quo calls for urgent good governance and law and order measures by the politicians and the civil society to improve the state.
Unfortunately this does not seem to be happening. Instead of late the state has been making headlines for the most absurd reasons. This point was brought to light by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor while BJP politician and former actor Shatrughan Sinha last week queried as to why Prime Minister Modi and Bollywood strongmen Amitabh Bachchan and Sharukh Khan are keeping quiet over the protests.
India surely has a long way to freedom.