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‘Hindus ridiculed continuously’ — Hindu Right press on poster for Leena Manimekalai’s ‘Kaali’

ThePrint’s round-up of how pro-Hindutva media covered and commented on news and topical issues over the past few weeks.

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New Delhi: Hindus are being mocked and ridiculed “continuously” while “even mentioning” the Islamic founder and scriptures could lead to death threats, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) mouthpiece Organiser said in an editorial this week.

The editorial was referring to the controversy that broke out over Tamil film-maker Leena Manimekalai’s poster for a documentary film. The poster for Manimekalai’s movie ‘Kaali’  shows a woman dressed as the Hindu goddess ‘Kali’ smoking a cigarette and holding the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community.  

“Leena Manimekalai dared to share a derogatory posture of Maa Kali, the Hindu Goddess considered to be the symbol of death, time, and change. The Trinamool Congress loudmouth Mahua Moitra justified it as her right to free speech and the authentic depiction of Kalika Mata,” the editorial said. “How to deal with (sic) such a dichotomous situation where even mentioning either the founder or scriptures of monotheistic religions like Islam leads to death threats, while Shiva, Ganesh, Saraswati and Kali, various forms of the Supreme worshipped by Hindus, are continuously mocked and ridiculed.”

Meanwhile, two other opinion pieces in the weekly Organiser criticised the Supreme Court for its observations of former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma, whose remarks over the Prophet Muhammad led to outrage both within and outside the country.

On 1 July, a bench of Justices J. B. Pardiwala and Surya Kant, which heard Sharma’s  petition to club together all the First Information Reports against her over the Prophet Muhammad controversy, had said she was “single-handedly” responsible for what is happening in the country.

In his write-up for Organiser, retired bureaucrat C.V. Ananda Bose called the Supreme Court’s action “judicial activism”. He wrote that the observation that Sharma had “set the whole country on fire” appears to be an implied approval of “the act of manslaughter” in the backdrop of the murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur.

“The sinister implications of the passing observations of the two judges should disturb any sensitive soul. Is the court approving retaliatory violence by unruly mobs on the basis of an ‘irresponsible’ statement made by an individual? Does it mean that the law and order machinery and the Constitution will cease to be operative at the slightest provocation by a loquacious person,” Bose wrote. 

Another article in the same magazine — written by lawyer Surendra Nathan — asked if the judges had crossed a line (the ‘Laxman Rekha)’ with their “outbursts and unwarranted remarks”. 

In an opinion piece in the Sunday Guardian Live, Maj. Gen. Dhruv Katoch (retired) blamed “fake narratives” for repeatedly creating communal tensions in India. 

“The last decade, or most specifically since 2014, when the BJP-led NDA registered a thumping victory in the national elections, certain vested interests, who had lost power, deliberately started creating tensions in society to stoke such violence, at times with finances received from sources outside the country,” the director of the independent research centre India Foundation wrote. 

He also said the Supreme Court’s act of holding Sharma responsible for the present circumstances was “going a bit too far”.

“Can Nupur Sharma, because of her remarks, be held solely accountable for creating mayhem in the country? That belies the very nature of the radicalised mindset,” he wrote. “It was sometime in the 1960s that radicalism started growing in Kashmir, which led to the tragic genocide of Kashmiri Hindus in 1990. This radicalisation, promoted by funds received from the Gulf countries, was not confined to Kashmir alone but encompassed many other parts of India and has now also become a threat to those very countries which spread such a discourse, besides being a threat to India. So to castigate the former BJP spokesperson as the sole cause of violence in India was perhaps going a bit too far,” Katoch wrote. 

Also Read: Muslim leaders not discarding ‘Sar Tan Se Juda’ philosophy — Hindu Right press on Udaipur killing

‘Mamata Banerjee knows woke politics doesn’t get votes’

In an opinion piece at Firstpost, Right-leaning journalist Ajit Datta said the Trinamool Congress’s decision to distance itself from Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra’s comments  in support of Manimekalai has proved that the party and its chief Mamata Banerjee realise that “woke politics does not fetch votes”.

Moitra had called Kali a “meat-eating” and “alcohol-accepting” goddess in her comments supporting Manimekalai.

“Immediately after these comments were made, her party came out and distanced itself from them. Shashi Tharoor then came out in her support, and funnily enough, his party came out and distanced itself from Tharoor. Clearly, even sections of the Opposition that have blinded themselves with hatred towards the ruling party, do not subscribe to this colonially-inspired or woke-inspired brand of elite politics,” Datta wote. 

Datta called politicians like Moitra and Tharoor “fringe elites”, and claimed some of them had made it big in politics not because of their “secular or woke credentials, but despite them”. 

“Rahul Gandhi, who often speaks like a philosopher, would have continued being the scion of the Congress irrespective of how muddled or how misunderstood his thought process is. Shashi Tharoor is not a three-time member of Parliament because his constituents read his books or admire his vast vocabulary. Similarly, Mahua Moitra is often compared to the outspoken American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but her entire political career and relevance rests on Mamata Banerjee’s assent,” Datta wrote. 

Senior RSS leader Bhagaiyya wrote an opinion piece in Panchjaynathe Sangh’s Hindi mouthpiece — explaining the importance of Bhagwa Dhwaj  (saffron flag) and why the organisation considers it, and not any one person, its “guru”. 

 “The Sangh does not worship the individual. The individual is not eternal, the society is eternal,” Bhagaiyya wrote in his piece. “The person may be great. There have been many personalities in our society, many still exist today. Hundreds of salutes at the feet of all those great personalities, but the RSS is doing the work of organising its national society, the entire society, the entire Hindu society, on the basis of nationality, on the basis of the motherland. Because of this, we have considered the saffron flag as our guru, and not any individual.” 

The Panchjanya also carried an analysis of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh after it completed 100 days of its second tenure.

Shantanu Gupta, the author of two books on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, wrote that the Uttar Pradesh government was maintaining its “legacy” of having a strong law and order system while demonstrating commitment for economic and social development. 

Apart from managing duties as the chief minister, Gupta wrote, Adityanath also won Samajwadi Party’s bastions Rampur and Azamgarh and was “strongly facing vote-bank politics”.

‘Advertisement versus action in AAP’

In his opinion piece criticising the Aam Aadmi Party’s advertising policy, RSS functionary Rajiv Tuli claimed that the party was more in the news for its advertisements than for its work. 

“The sphere of politics has also not been free from the power of marketing. Political-marketing has become an indispensable part of political activities. Huge money is being spent on advertisement which is not confined to election times. In the Indian political scenario, crores of rupees are spent on what is broadly known as political-marketing,” he wrote in India Today.

“On an average, the AAP government is spending a whopping Rs 1.34 crore a day on ads from the public exchequer. In one such instance, in two years, the AAP government of Delhi has spent Rs 68 lakh on stubble decomposer for the environment, but Rs 23 crore was spent to project it through advertisements which is more than 40 times the actual work! The same module has been replicated by the recently formed AAP government in Punjab,” Tuli claimed.  

Also Read: ‘Sena compromised fundamental ideology’ —what Hindu Right press wrote on Maharashtra crisis

Sri Lanka and the lessons for India  

Right-leaning columnist and professor Makarand R. Paranjape said that the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka has taught India the importance of “strong, if not visionary, leadership, social cohesion, fiscal prudence, and the smart steering of the ship of state through globally troubled waters”. 

“For us in India, the lessons from Sri Lanka should be obvious,” he wrote in his op-ed in Gulf News. “As opposed to excessive populism, doles, bailouts, ideological grandstanding, and continuous civil unrest. The latter are among the biggest threats to democracies and free societies the world over,” he wrote, adding that for India, the enemies are “much more internal than external”.

‘Moratorium on custom duties on e-transmission harmful’

In his blog, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch’s co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan argued that the World Trade Organization’s moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions was hurting India’s efforts to become Atmanirbhar (self-reliant). This, Mahajan argued, was done because developed countries pushed for it using “all diplomatic and arm-twisting tactics to renew the moratorium”.

“The issue here is not only about loss of revenue, it’s a much larger issue for a country like India, where our start-ups and software companies are able to make a variety of electronic products, where we can make movies and other entertainment products in our own country, but when all such products are imported undeterred, without tariff, there is little incentive to produce them indigenously. This tariff moratorium on e-products is actually killing our efforts of Atmanirbhar Bharat, benefitting US, European countries and China,” he wrote. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: ‘Ridiculous, based on disinformation’ — what Hindu Right press wrote on Agnipath protests




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