Refresh your memory, Smriti Irani
I congratulate Smriti Irani for the audacity and recklessness she showed in Parliament last week during a discussion on the recent incidents in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Hyderabad University. I was amazed to watch her performance, which was a heady cocktail of melodramatic hand movements and oratory expertise. Smriti spared no effort to turn the parliamentary forum into her own stage. The absence of the main opposition party gave her complete freedom to paint institutions of higher learning like JNU and Hyderabad University with the colours best suited to the ideology she espouses.
Let me refresh Smriti Irani’s memory a little by advising her to recall that it was not long ago that the storm-troopers of the BJP-led government and different wings of its parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were after the blood of Rohith Vemula. In the letters written by Smriti’s own Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD), he was branded an anti-national. After accusing Rohith of managing a false certificate, stopping his stipend and ensuring his suspension from the university, Smriti suddenly remembered Rohith “the child” on whose dead body a cruel political game has been played.
I have no objection if the daughter of a Punjabi father and Bengali mother challenges the House to find out which caste she belongs to. But then can we forget the way the arms of government were busy planting stories that questioned Rohith Vemula’s Dalit status? Is it not an irony that senior ministers of the Modi government made Rohith’s caste an issue, emphasising that he was not a Dalit? We also heard Smriti announce putting her neck on the line while replying to a query of Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati. “If you are not satisfied with my reply, I will cut off my head and place it at your feet,” Irani said. Let me tell Smriti that her fellow countrymen are more mature than she thinks and people laugh at such unnecessary bravado.
With elections due in West Bengal, Maa Durga is the new Ramlala for Smriti’s Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). May God certainly forgive Smriti for reading the portions from an unauthenticated pamphlet, turning our revered Goddess into a tool of BJP’s sectarian politics. Why drag Goddess Durga in JNU’s current scenario? Smriti wants to have a discussion on this on the streets of Kolkata and we all know why.
Smriti reminded the Parliament how Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said that India is not just a piece of land. Let Smriti also recall how she had made the decision to go on a fast unto death in December 2004, demanding the resignation of the then Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. I still remember how Lal Krishna Advani and Gopinath Munde had to work hard to change Irani’s mind from showing a mirror to her own party.
The same Smriti now refuses to see her own true face in the mirror. She might take pride in the fact that she was born, though after 45 years, on the day Bhagat Singh laid down his life for the nation. But she must be mature enough to understand that martyrs of our freedom movement never defined the nationalism the way we see it today.
Smriti Irani also told us that she did not want to quote Chanakya in her speech fearing she would be seen as saffron and thus, chose to quote a Roman philosopher and said, “ a nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious, but it cannot survive treason from within”. I agree with the HRD Minister, who is in charge of the education of our great nation, when she quotes this Roman philosopher and says, “an enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly, but the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely and their whispers heard in the very halls of government itself”.
She did not name the philosopher. It was Marcus Tullius Cicero and I found every word of this quote pointing four out of five fingers towards RSS sponsored designs. Let me also remind Smriti that though Cicero was a philosopher, political theorist, and a constitutionalist, the whole world knows how he executed the “conspirators” without due process during the second Catilinarian episode.
Therefore, let’s all pray that God leads us to the truth from ignorance and to light from the darkness.
(The writer is CEO of News Views India. Views expressed are strictly personal)