The Prime Minister of a nation with 172 million Muslims citizens did not mention the festival of Eid, which is in August, in his address to the nation Tuesday. Narendra Modi rattled off the names of all upcoming festivals such as Guru Purnima, Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Durga Puja, Chhath Puja, and Kati Bihu. He even announced an extension of the Centre’s free-ration scheme till the end of November, and detailed how much wheat, rice and chana families would get.
But there was no mention of Eid.
“From July onwards, the atmosphere of festivals begins to develop. Now see, we have Guru Purnima on 5 July. Then Saawan (month of Hindu calendar) will start. We will then have 15 August, Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam. If you move further ahead, we have Bihu, Navaratri, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali, Chhath Puja,” he said in his 15-minute address.
Guru Purnima is the closest upcoming festival, followed by Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh Chaturthi, and Janmashtami, all of which fall in the month of August. But Modi decided to take a convenient leap till Diwali, Durga Puja and Kati Bihu, completely skipping Bakri Eid, which will be on 31 July – 1 August.
This is new India where Muslim festivals can be ignored. But is this an act of omission or commission?
A deliberate slip-up
Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMM president, pointed out that Modi made it a point to mention chana in his address, but failed to mention Eid. Nonetheless, Owaisi wished the PM Eid Mubarak. Activist-scholar Umar Khalid questioned Modi’s popular claim of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.
.@PMOIndia aaj China par bolna tha, bol gaye CHANA par. Which was also necessary since your unplanned lockdown had left many working people without food.
Also noticed that you listed many festivals in coming months but missed Baqr Eid? Chaliye, phir bhi aapko peshgi Eid Mubarak
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) June 30, 2020
Did you miss out on Eid in the list of upcoming festivals? Sabka Saath?
— Umar Khalid (@UmarKhalidJNU) June 30, 2020
Modi, however, is not someone to miss such details. He often extols the fabric of India. He is well aware that his words, or his omissions, will be noted and analysed — and he wants them to be. It was nothing less than a deliberate skip, a design to hurt Muslim sentiments, and invisibilise them.
Some will say that he tweets on Eid. But that he does because not doing so would invite direct questioning and international attention.
Pick up any of Modi’s addresses, he rarely includes Muslims or Christians. This is a strong signalling to his core constituency that dreams of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
Many years ago, Modi refused to wear a skull cap during his sadbhavana fast in Gujarat. Today, he ignores a Muslim festival, even in such grim times of unemployment and widespread morbidity caused by a pandemic.
The only time Modi notices Muslims is when there is a protest on the streets. He recognises them by their clothes, and then his supporters spread Islamophobia identifying Muslims on the basis of their names, beards and burqas.
A Prime Minister who espouses slogans such as ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ would have at least shown the humility of acknowledging Muslims, who followed his lockdown call to stay indoors during Ramzan, while mosques remained shut. But Modi only has apathy to show for the community. Clearly, the idea of diversity is just a diplomatic postcard for Prime Minister Modi.
Views are personal.