Writers Vs. Righters: Threats of a Totalitarian State

Writers Vs. Righters : Threats of a Totalitarian State
Dr.H.S. Chandalia
Writers have expressed their serious concern over the growing intolerance in the society and the governments’ indifference towards the incidents of brutal violence and shameless arrogance shown by some organizations which are allies of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party. The brutal murders of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M.M. Kalburgi have not been taken seriously by the Union government and the state has failed to give a message that the voice of reason will prevail and those who promote superstition, fundamentalism, communal hatred and religious fanaticism will not be spared. To make the matters worse the Union minister for culture Mahesh Sharma made a statement that if the writers don’t find the atmosphere congenial to writing they should stop writing. This is adding insult to injury. The spate of returning the Sahitya Academy Awards still continues and writers from Rajasthan including poet Nand Bhardwaj and Ambikadutt have also returned the awards. Among those who have returned the awards include noted authors like UdaiPrakash, Ashok Vajpayee, Kashi Nath Singh, Surjeet Patar, Prof. Ganesh Devi, Munavvar Rana, Krishna Sobti, Nayan Tara Sehgal, Shashi Deshpande and several other well known writers who have given their life for the cause of literature and are acclaimed not just in the country but also across national boundaries.
There is a group of writers like Narendra Kohli, Gyan Chaturvedi and some other non-descript names who find it a part of political propaganda. They also demonstrated against the writers who had returned their awards. In the demonstration they were bearing a saffron banner. This is evidence enough who is playing politics. They clearly project their right wing affiliation.The ruling NDA has tried to shy away from the real issues raised by those writers who have returned their awards. In order to deflect the debate they have tried to shoot personal questions on the loyalty of the writers. All the fifty odd writers cannot be dubbed as leftist writers. A writer is a writer who has his own vision of the world. He may be inclined towards a political ideology but he does not write with partisan interests. The real issues are violence on the basis of communal and caste hatred. The real issue is the atmosphere of fear and distrust being propagated by the state as well as non-state power centers. This has been underlined by the statements of the President of India also.
A common argument stated by those who have opposed the writers returning the awards is that Sahitya Academy is an autonomous institution and the return of awards is misdirected. It may be true in theory but the reality is not that simple. Governments have a say in the functioning of autonomous institutions. The worst example is the Universities which are said to be autonomous but it is an open secret that the Vice Chancellors are appointed on the basis of their political affiliations. The appointment of the Vice Chancellor of University of Rajasthan is a case in example in which case the VC does not fulfill the UGC norms and still has been appointed only because of his affiliation with the ruling party in the state. UGC had to make specific mention about it to the state government of Rajasthan. So is the case with Rajasthan Sahitya Academy. The former Chairperson of Rajasthan Sahitya Academy Ved Vyas was removed whenever Bhartiya Janta Party came to power in Rajasthan before the completion of his term.
Throwing of ink on Surendra Kulkarni in Mumbai and on J&K MLA Rashid in Delhi are but two examples of violent and shameless protests. Killing of Akhlak in Dadri was preceded by attacks on churches and hanging of chickens in front of Jain temples in Mumbai. There are more subtle ways of harassing people in BJP ruled states. Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani had announced 25 December as working day though it was Christmas Day. Central Universities were asked to observe as the birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Similarly in Rajasthan the holiday on the occasion of Eidul Ajaha was cancelled and schools and colleges were ordered to hold blood donation camps to observe the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyay. This is an example of the attitude of apathy towards minorities by the state.
The writers are able to foresee the emergence of a totalitarian state in the name of majority rule. The fear is floating in the air and those who want to speak are frightened. The most non-violent protest in the form of returning awards has been seen by the ruling alliance and their field organizations as anti- government and the organizations as RSS are demanding investigation against these writers. This is the real threat to the right to speech. Already the labour rights are in jeopardy and the trade Unions are facing a tough time. Mainstream media is governed by capitalist interest and market has emerged as the most powerful dictator which can make even the Union government helpless as has happened in the case of prices of pulses. Hooligans like Sakshi Maharaj , Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi make hysterical speeches and consume a lot of air time of the TV channels. These are the real issues which go unaddressed even as the ‘righters’ spread a hate campaign against the writers.
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