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What is M J Akbar Thinking?

M. J. Akbar



“In Hitler’s case, the enemy was the Jew; in Modi’s case, the enemy is the Muslim” – wrote journalist M J Akbar famously in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots in 2002. He went on to write in the same article that “such a politician is not a fool; in fact, he may have a high degree of intellect. But it is intellect unleavened by reason, and untempered by humanism”.


So now, if the same M J Akbar, whose credentials as one of India’s top notch journalists has never been in doubt, joins the BJP, then it is time to give serious considerations to Mr Akbar’s motive. It is ironic that Mr Akbar’s ultimate disillusionment with the politics of the Congress party – of which he was an MP – and his enlightenment about the virtues of the BJP comes at a time when the same Narendra Modi, whom he so severely criticized, is calling the shots there.


In the same article, Mr Akbar, with his superb journalistic acumen, had also prophetically pointed out that “Modiwill mount a challenge within his party, and get some support too; hewill dream of becoming Prime Minister of India after a nationalvictory fashioned through the Gujarat rhetoric. He will depend onterrorists to supply him with Godhras elsewhere in India. The flaw in the dream is that long before Modi gets anywhere near Delhi, he will have destroyed the BJP”.


But, it is certain, that Mr Akbar would never have dreamt at the time that when Modi actually did set the dice rolling to win the Prime Minister’s coveted chair, he would himself be supporting the cause of someone who – as he wrote – thought of Muslims as the enemy.


However, what can it be but sheer opportunism that Mr Akbar, today, isfirmly in the Modi camp, supporting Modi’s candidature and as he foresaw , the destruction of the BJP ( what else would you call the exit of Jaswant Singh, the sidelining of L K Advani and MurliManohar Joshi and the clarion call to cast every vote for him – Modi – rather than for the party).


Mr Akbar’s image as an upright and fearless journalist has definitely taken a beating with him now stoutly – and definitely displaying Alzheimer symptoms – defending Narendra Modi’s previous actions and singing his praises to boot!


There is no doubt that Mr Akbar had not minced his words regarding the Congress’s duality towards the Muslims in the same aforementioned article. In fact, he had severely criticized Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi for imitating Modi in the Congress’s strategy towards the Muslims and praised Jawarhalal Nehru’s unshaken stand in keeping religion away from politics.


It is a pity then that today, the same M J Akbar seems to be not just eating his words, but is also at the risk of losing his credibility as a journalist who spoke his mind without hesitation or fear or any signs of vested interest in favour of right and justice and particularly in the interests of the minority Muslim community to which he himself belongs.


So, the questions to be asked of him are these –

  1. Do you believe that NarendraModi no longer considers Muslims as his enemies?
  2. Do you believe that the Gujarat developmentmodel – as defined by Modi and his cohorts and which he promises to implement across the country – is enough to maintain religious harmony, protect the Indian Muslims, protect freedom of speech and expression and safeguard rights of women to self-determination , from the rabid Hindutva supporters?
  3. Do you believe NarendraModi has given up the Ram Temple agenda? (Mind you its not just building a temple, but building it right there where the Babri mosque stands!)
  4. How many Muslims have been given tickets by the BJP across the country and particularly in Gujarat?
  5. Do you think under NarendraModi as Prime Minister ,Muslims will get adequate representation in politics and opportunities in education and employment – without communal bias?
  6. Will Modi rise above his inherent hatred of the Muslims (he even refused to wear a Muslim cap when offered one – what kind of mind set does that display ?) and be a strong impartial administrator in case of communal tensions in the country (like during the riots in Gujarat, Mumbai or more recently Muzzaffarnagar). What do you think Modi will do – honestly?
  7. Will a Modi government give equal benefit of doubt to Muslims or will they all be considered ‘terrorists and threat to nation and to Modi himself’ – unless proven otherwise?There are many other questions related to the Indian Muslims that can be asked in the context of Mr Modi – who has never in thought , speech or action accepted that the Muslims , or any other religious minority for that matter, in India are Indians with equal rights in this country.Will the journalist in Mr Akbar rise to answering all these questions keeping his conscience intact ? or will his opportunistic political ambitions continue to take precedence – ignoring the fact that he is supporting a Prime Ministerial candidate who does not consider Muslims or other religious minorities in this country as equal citizens but rather as second class citizens who should remain cowed under and subservient to the majority Hindus.

    (And please – Congress is the same – is definitely not an acceptable answer here!)

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