The attack on Salman Khurshid’s cottage in Nainital, be it a protest gone wrong or a deliberate act, has damaged Uttarakhand’s reputation as one of the more civilised states. The State Government and the BJP must ensure that the culprits are caught and given exemplary punishment. This is all the more necessary as the incident is being presented as an example of present day Hindu attitudes to justify the opinions of Khurshid, Mani Shankar Aiyar and other critics of Hindutva.
The BJP complains, very rightly, that its workers and those of the RSS are regularly assaulted and killed in states like Kerala and West Bengal by supporters of the ruling parties. Even on the day of the attack on Khurshid’s cottage, an RSS activist was hacked to death in Pallakad. In the media narrative, however, the two incidents will be equated to give the impression that all ideologies are the same. As in Khurshid’s understanding, if one can accept Hindutva, what’s wrong with ISIS?
It is because of such simple-minded comparisons that the BJP needs to set a better example of governance. The BJP government at the Centre has experienced how such events are cleverly used to project India in negative terms abroad and much energy has to be spent in correcting the perception. Other nations cleverly use this to apply extra pressure on India during important negotiations. The least that can be expected of Uttarakhand is that it does not provide added ‘masala’ to this narrative.
There are so many better ways to counter the anti-Hindutva propaganda. The BJP and the RSS do not lack for intellectuals that can debate the issue on any platform Salman Khurshid or Mani Shankar Aiyar might choose. One needs only to watch the debates in Parliament, where the present day opposition invariably gets blown away. Even on popular shows and social media, the shock and awe effect of Kangana Ranaut like followers is tremendous, even if the historicity is as suspect as Khurshid’s understanding of Hinduism. And if the battle is to be fought in the streets, display some valour in West Bengal and Kerala. That would earn the respect of even the adversaries.