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