The comments made by Hamid Ansari, the outgoing Vice-President, in an interview on the “breakdown of Indian values” in the country in the wake of repeated incidents of attacks against people from minority communities have triggered sharp attacks from the BJP. The ruling party is so angry that even the Venkaiah Naidu, who quit the BJP ahead of the Vice-Presidential election, indirectly attacked Ansari. It’s hardly a secret that BJP supporters have had apprehensions about Ansari. The Hindutva online army had launched several attacks against the vice president in the past. On such an occasion, Ansari was slammed on social networks for not saluting when the National Anthem was being played on the Republic Day celebrations in 2015. The critics had even questioned his patriotism and Indianness. Later on, Ansari’s office had to release a press note, saying, “When National anthem is played, Principal Dignitary & persons in uniform take salute. Those in civil dress stand in attention.”
This time, the criticism came from both the BJP’s online army and party leaders. In the interview with Karan Thapar, the two-term vice president said a feeling of unease and a sense of insecurity is prevailing among the Muslims in the country. He also described the questioning of Indianness of citizens, which the Hindutva outfits regularly do while referring to minorities, as a “disturbing thought.” When Thapar asked him if he shared his concerns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ansari said: “Yes…yes. But what passes between the Vice President and the Prime Minister in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged conversation.” “Breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought,” he said, referring to the beef lynching and other organised violent incidents in the country.
Ansari’s comment has got the BJP in its favourite mode—launching tirade against critics. Priti Gandhi, national executive member of BJP Mahila Morcha, tweeted to her 225,000 followers: “For 10yrs my Hindu majority nation accepted you with open arms, placed you at the pinnacle of power & you still feel uneasy? Agenda kya hai?” BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya just continued from where Priti Gandhi stopped. “I condemn his comments. He has made political comments as he is retiring. He is still a vice president and such comments do not suit his office’s dignity. It seems he is making such comments to find political shelter after retirement.”
The Viswa Hindu Parishad, another Sangh outfit, accused Ansari of following the path of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. “With his remarks that Muslims feel insecure in the country, Ansari has insulted the post of the Vice President, the government and the entire Hindu community,” VHP Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain said in Delhi. “It is unfortunate that Ansari followed Jinnah rather than adopting the paths of former President APJ Abdul Kalam and freedom fighter Maulana Azad,” he added.
Even Venkaiah Naidu joined the Sangh chorus. “Some people are saying minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda. Compared to the entire world, minorities are more safe and secure in India and they get their due,” Naidu, who will take over as Vice President on Thursday, told new agency Press Trust of India, without naming anyone. “If you single out one community, other communities will take it otherwise. That is why we say all are equal. Appeasement for none justice for all… “They (minorities) got in prominent positions including constitutional responsibilities because there is no discrimination, and also on account of their merit,” he added.