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How Hindu Right press defended Nupur Sharma’s controversial Prophet remarks

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

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New Delhi: Former BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma only dared to repeat what Islamic preacher Zakir Naik had said, read an editorial in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated journal Panchjanya, referring to the former’s suspension from primary membership of the party over her remarks on Prophet Muhammad.

Apart from the diplomatic row over Nupur Sharma’s remarks, pages of the Hindu Right press were filled this past week with extensive coverage of the Gyanvapi mosque case, singer-rapper Sidhu Moose Wala’s murder, and the 348th anniversary of Shivaji’s coronation.

Prominent mentions also include an editorial by RSS leader Ram Madhav, where he wrote that the only challenge to PM Narendra Modi could come from the Prime Minister himself.

Panchjanya, in an editorial, alleged that some people are engaged in a “deliberate attempt to spoil India’s name” by saying Hindus have grown intolerant.

“Propaganda is being spread and allegations are being levelled that Hindus are becoming intolerant and violent. Their behaviour towards Muslims is not good. So-called intellectuals are raising this issue frequently in international media. But is it really so?

“The picture is the opposite. Some people are deliberately engaged in spoiling the name of the country. This game is being played through the media and academic world,” the editorial read.

“A BJP spokesperson and her family were threatened with rape, death because she dared to repeat what Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has been saying. On the other hand, a Muslim leader says that if he had known about the Shivling, he would have broken it already,” it added.

Citing the examples of Delhi University professor Ratan Lal and Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale, the editorial went further to argue that one can get away by targeting Hindu symbols. Ratan Lal was booked and later released on bail for allegedly making an offensive joke related to the Gyanvapi mosque row, while Chitale is still in police custody for sharing an alleged derogatory post on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.

Also Read: How Rahul Gandhi ‘defied’ Gandhi & Ambedkar: What Hindu Right press focused on this week

‘Only challenge to Modi’

In an editorial he wrote Tuesday for the Times of India, senior RSS functionary Ram Madhav said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “the BJP and the government”. 

“Dev Kant Baruah’s ‘India is Indira’ was an exaggeration in the 1970s, but ‘Modi is BJP and government’ is no exaggeration today… Modi’s rise to power in 2014 was due to his own popularity coupled with the support of his party and the ubiquitous Sangh Parivar and the strong anti-incumbency against the UPA government.

“But his continued dominance after eight years is due singularly to him. Everything about the last eight years was about Modi,” the editorial read, adding that the Modi “juggernaut might continue to roll on for many years and might break Nehru’s record tooThe only challenge to it could be Modi himself.

“Once ticked off by world powers for Gujarat riots and written off by the Indian political establishment as an inconsequential regional satrap, Modi carved his way through the national politics in the last two decades in a most determined and diligent manner. Using his popular goodwill, he made it a fait accompli for his party to anoint him as the prime minister,” he wrote.

Ram Madhav further argued that Modi’s rise to power cannot be attributed solely to Hindutva. “He (Modi) did have the backing of the Hindutva movement but that movement could take Lal Krishna Advani, one of its tallest leaders, only to 140+ seats just five years before Modi,” the RSS leader wrote.

Addressing the controversy over remarks made by former BJP functionaries Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, Madhav wrote: “Controversies, like the one about statements by some party spokespersons, are not new to Modi. Over decades, he has waded through them and mastered the art of converting them to his political advantage.”

‘Gyanvapi was a temple, will remain one’ 

The cover story of Hindu Vishwa, the fortnightly magazine of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), reiterated the claim that Gyanvapi mosque is a temple. “Gyanvapi mandir tha, mandir hai, mandir hi rahega (Gyanvapi was a temple, is a temple and will remain a temple),” said the cover of the magazine’s June edition.

“Hindu aspirations repressed for centuries are now manifesting. The courts have now started understanding the religious rights of Hindus. The way is being paved for the reconstruction of Hindu values destroyed by invaders. It has become clear that the coming era is the era of Hindu pride,” the cover story read.

In an article he wrote for the same edition of the VHP’s fortnightly magazine, journalist Ravi Parashar lauded the Calcutta High Court’s order directing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe religious conversions in West Bengal. 

The article went further to allege that cases of religious conversions are not being reported in the state due to “settlements” between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) volunteers and the West Bengal Police. 

Also Read: Will dig up past until ‘Islamists identify with invaders’ — in the Hindu Right press this week

‘In Modi era, only PMO & CMO powerful’

In his editorial for Naya India, Right-leaning journalist Hari Shankar Vyas questioned the tight grip of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) over policy making.

“The entire political system from the Centre to the states has become irrelevant. Now, only two institutions are relevant. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) at the Centre and the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in the states. There are more than 75 ministers in the central government but most of the ministers have no relevance,” Vyas wrote.

“Due to the charisma of one person, all the people of the ruling party have won elections and have become ministers by the grace of that person — hence that person has the right to think and take all the decisions. 

“It is not that the cabinet ministers of the government will be unhappy with this arrangement. They’ll be glad that they don’t have to do anything. They get instructions from above and, accordingly, they prepare the file and forward it. Everything is governed by the Prime Minister’s Office and the credit for everything also goes to the Prime Minister and his office,” Vyas wrote.

‘India should follow Shivaji’s Swaraj’

In an editorial to mark the 348th anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation, RSS-affiliated journal Organiser lauded the Maratha ruler’s concept of “Swaraj”.

“Marxist historians who try to make a saint out of Aurangzeb and other Muslim tyrants should know how Shivaji’s Haindavi Swaraj treated minorities and women. Although he fought several battles with Islamic sultanates of the Mughals, the Qutub Shahi and the Adil Shahi, he never harboured any ill-will against the Muslim people. Several Muslims were inducted into key positions in the administration and military.

“After Independence, Bharat had the option to follow Shivaji’s Swaraj and rebuild our nation on the civilizational foundations. But those who took the reins of power chose to take a different route. Our departure from our national ethos and slavish adoption of imported ideas has led us to social, intellectual, and economic deprivation,” the editorial read.

‘Inexperience of the AAP’

Referring to the murder of singer-rapper Sidhu Moose Wala in broad daylight, Right-leaning journalist Rajiv Tuli wrote in an editorial for India Ahead that the people of Punjab have been betrayed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government they elected earlier this year.

“They (people of Punjab) thought that they had made a tryst with destiny by giving a chance to a political phenomenon which gave them hopes, aspirations and dreams,” the editorial read.

“Imagine, the most famous singer of Punjab is killed in broad daylight in a Bollywood film style with the most coveted weapons which are not even easily available to the [sic] armies. And despite the fact that the city of Mansa where he was killed had just two exit routes and it takes four-five hours to cross the borders of Punjab, the killers are evading the clutches of law.

“It indicates the naivety and inexperience of the AAP in handling the state administration, particularly law and order which is the prime condition for any other business or social activities. The law and order of the state have touched the nadir,” Tuli wrote.

He went further to argue that promises of freebies by the AAP government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann are putting more pressure on Punjab’s economy.

“To divert the pressure of rising expectations which were fuelled by the AAP, diverting issues like Chandigarh Civil Services rules and old issues with Chandigarh is being raised. The ‘projection’ of the so-called ‘good government actions’ is backfiring,” Rajiv Tuli wrote.

‘Other religions & persuasions’ column in Census

In an article for the official website of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Professor Anand Paliwal has criticised the ‘Other religions and persuasions (ORP)’ column in the Census.

“Is it to show that the tribal society, which is an integral part of the Hindu society, is different by coining a different terminology for them?” asked Prof. Paliwal, who is a member of the ABVP’s central working committee.

“Is there any historical, social legal essence behind the above notion or was it started as a conspiracy… Whether it was Lord Macaulay or Christian missionaries, everyone knew that Hindu religion and culture is so advanced that without attacking it, conversion seems impossible.

“The work of conversion, which they found was easily executable in tribal societies of America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand etc., became a big challenge here because of Hindu religion and culture. This is the reason why attempts are being made to disintegrate Hindu society by coining different terminologies,” he contended.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: ‘Self-evident Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque is a temple’ — what Hindu Right press wrote this week


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