OPINION
THE RAM MADHAV LESSON IN POLITICS
CHIDAMBARAM IS WRONG – The cry of Sushma Swaraj and the silence of Rajnath Singh
- S Pal
CHIDAMBARAM IS WRONG – The cry of Sushma Swaraj and the silence of Rajnath Singh



"Not one fellow minister or (BJP) party functionary" condemned the trolls hounding Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, claimed former Union Finance Minister and one of the sharpest critics of the Modi government, P Chidambaram of the Congress.

He is wrong. 

BJP's Ram Madhav, a man with a direct line to Amit Shah and Narendra Modi, condemned the trolls and even wrote an article in the same newspaper in which Chidambaram is a Sunday columnist.

The problem, in fact, is far more serious than what Sushma Swaraj's new found friends in different parties have pointed out. 

Not only did no union minister speak up for Sushma Swaraj, not only did Prime Minister Narendra Modi remain silent at the plight of a woman minister literally begging for support in the cybertown square as an army largely composed of men jeered her and humiliated her, not only did Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tell her to ignore the trolls instead of taking action against them, not only did even the ignored veterans keep their counsel, but Ram Madhav actually insulted her in black and white, in a leading English language daily, in an edit page lead article.
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Ram Madhav launched one of the most vicious attacks on Sushma Swaraj in the garb of defending her.
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After uttering one of the world's oldest homilies for the trolls that could only have come from his innate maternal instincts — "Don’t do unto others that you don’t want done to you” — Ram Madhav launched one of the most vicious attacks on Sushma Swaraj in the garb of defending her.

While condemning the trolls who asked her husband to beat her up, referred to her kidney problem, and generally questioned her patriotism, Ram Madhav gave the troll army the one justification that they were looking for to seem credible.

"Whether External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was responsible for the transfer of a junior-level officer in the passport office at Lucknow, whether she did so out of a sense of pseudo-secular enthusiasm or whether the officer in question had become a victim of a secular clique — these are important questions, but they are of secondary importance," Madhav wrote.

So the questions raised by the trolls about his own party's senior Union minister are all very valid. It is just that the trolls used very bad language. Madhav basically said it was alright to question Sushma Swaraj's patriotism — just use parliamentary language.

Was Sushma Swaraj indulging in "pseudo-secular enthusiasm"? Ram Madhav says the issue can be discussed, and there could be two or more different views on it but no one should indulge in trolling.

Conclusion: People were most welcome to discuss if Sushma Swaraj is an anti-national. Just avoid bad language.

"This is not because they are not serious questions, but because they need proper scrutiny before we arrive at a conclusion," says Ram Madhav.
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Conclusion: People were most welcome to discuss if Sushma Swaraj is an anti-national. Just avoid bad language.
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This was a man close to Modi and Shah and whose word counts as the party line whether it comes to Kashmir or any other issue, and he was telling the trolls: you raised very serious issue, but can we please keep the language nice?

Ram Madhav, at one place in the article, calls the questions raised by the troll army about the transfer of a passport officer, as "genuine questions raised by some social media."

If Rajnath Singh's advice to Sushma Swaraj was to ignore the trolls, Ram Madhav undercut his Union Home Minister also by terming the trolls' concern as "genuine issues."

He then used the occasion for some Muslim bashing, a favourite pastime of top BJP honchos, and the trolls. See how the twains meet: "The case pertaining to Tanvi Seth, the woman in question in the passport row, should actually have been used against the regressive clerics who insist upon changing the name of a Hindu woman to that of a Muslim in the nikahnama."

Wow! The trolls had missed this point. Ram Madhav is reminding them. Or is he chiding them for missing a cheap shot? Of course, woebegone Ram Madhav were he to point out why women change their names post-marriage in the wider Hindu society! Or suffix their husband's surname to their name, very often dropping their own surname. Who talks such stuff? Yes, Nivedita Menon. And she is an anti-national, as everyone who has ever worn a saffron bandana knows.

Ram Madhav, of course, might never have been invited by anyone to a social occasion, or he would have noticed the ubiquitous "Mrs and Mr Sharma/Verma/Bhatia/Malhotra" scrawled on the card pasted to the Gopal Sweet Shop box.

The only other reason could be that Ram Madhav is being selectively blind, and is telling the BJP's who's who to remain blind to the travails of Sushma Swaraj. Blind, and deaf and mute.
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The trolls had missed this point. Ram Madhav is reminding them. Or is he chiding them for missing a cheap shot?
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This is an orchestrated move, and Sushma Swaraj is not the only target. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is also on notice. 

Mark Rajnath Singh's utter insignificance when it came to Amit Shah's move of pulling the plug from underneath the Mehbooba Mufti government. In that case, Ram Madhav, who was the architect of the ill-advised BJP-PDP coalition and the hatchet man for the demolition job, did not even make a pretence about Rajnath Singh being in the loop.

All this even when Rajnath Singh was the one who was to study the report of the governor of Jammu and Kashmir and was to recommend Governor's rule in the trouble-torn state.

The irrelevance of Rajnath Singh is on display in the country's capital these days. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party government won its day in the Supreme Court, but the Centre was hardly in a hurry to hand over the keys. So a 2015 notification of the Union Home Ministry came in handy.

Mounted on the shoulders of Rajnath Singh is a gun targeted at Kejriwal, but the irony is that Rajnath Singh has not given any indication that his is a willing shoulder.

He has not even issued a statement on the subject. Who wants to hand over an issue to the troll army, many of its members followed by ministers in the Modi government? 

Kejriwal himself is giving some face-saving to Rajnath Singh by saying the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) might be "confused” about the Supreme Court verdict. Poor Rajnath Singh is not saying that he is very clear about it.

Kejriwal is telling the MHA to go to the court. The Centre wants Kejriwal to go back to the court and get an explicit order that the services were under the control of the CM and also to get the MHA's notification quashed.

The MHA is silent. It was silent on Kashmir. It is silent on L-G. It has been silent on the issue of lynchings. Its man at the top has even asked Sushma Swaraj to be silent about trolls.

Rajnath Singh's advice to Sushma Swaraj about ignoring trolls is actually his problem. He is worried that not just the PM but the PMO ignores him. 
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The irrelevance of Rajnath Singh is on display in the country's capital these days.
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He is worried about opening his mouth lest he finds out that instead of the trolls breathing down his neck, they may also ignore him. That will put the stamp on his irrelevance.

But in Delhi's power circles, people know the ground realities. Arvind Kejriwal said the ministry of home affairs has directed that services power will be with the L-G. He has not said that the stand has been taken by the Home Minister. The ministry speaks. The minister does not.

When a minister speaks up, as Sushma Swaraj did, he or she may find the reality even more scary. Either no one comes to your support, or they come to justify the trolls.

"It is improper to blame the Union minister for that decision (about transferring the passport officer)," Ram Madhav wrote. "Improper?" Is that the word Ram Madhav finally settled for after considering the entire range of diction at his command?

You troll one of the most powerful people in this country, the one who represents India in its dealings with the most powerful prime ministers, presidents, heads of governments and states, dictators, owners of nuclear bombs and submarines and hoarders of illegal, illegitimate arsenals, and you get away even after publicly telling her husband to pull her away and beat her up, and the harshest criticism that a kind pracharak of the RSS, top functionary of the BJP and confidante of the Prime Minister and ruling party's supremo could muster was to term their heinous doings "improper?"

Dear Sushma Swaraj, you who wanted ten heads of Pakistani soldiers for each one India loses, you who spared no poisonous words against your opponents, you who even threatened to shave your head lest a democratic electoral verdict is respected, you who did all one must in order to further the cause of the party, you who did not decide to tweet when lynch mobs were out on the street looking for what people stored in their refrigerators, you failed one test when you raised your voice for Tanvi Seth.

Rajnath Singh is still to make that mistake.

Do not do anything improper, and you will survive. Even an LK Advani has learnt that. Nothing happened to him and he happily sits to the left of the man who picked his pocket. Hope you will take Ram Madhav's advice and survive.
 
There's nothing more calming in life than the silence of LK Advani. You may join that group of calm people. Rajnath will follow. We can always do with more path-pradarshaks. 
 

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