Modi victory will see ideology of hate penetrate into govt machinery: Nandita Das

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 01 Mei 2014 | 08.20

STOCKHOLM: Actress and social activist Nandita Das has warned that a victory for Narendra Modi in the ongoing general elections will result in an ideology of hate to penetrate into the government machinery and influence institutions and policies.

Nandita, who showcased her hard hitting and poignant film Firaq at the India Unlimited festival in Stockholm organised by the Indian embassy told TOI in an exclusive interview that Modi as Prime Minister will make minority communities like Muslims who are already marginalised, feel more vulnerable than ever before.

Firaq was her directorial debut feature film and tells the story of a few families in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots.
The actress who has some highly acclaimed films to her credit - having acted in over 30 feature films in 10 different languages with directors of international repute like Deepa Mehta, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal and Mani Ratnam also warned "during a short stint in government, the NDA alliance changed the content of school text books to their advantage. Once Modi becomes PM, these policies based on hate will get legitimized and we will not even get to know about them".

Nandita who has lent her support to a "cultural pluralism campaign" that is asking people to vote for a secular candidate said that she has been on the receiving end of a vitriolic attack for opposing Modi as Prime Minister.

Nandita told TOI "The amount of hate mails I have received asking me and my son to leave India and migrate to Pakistan just because I oppose Narendra Modi has made me realise that never before in this country has one seen such tremendous threat to the freedom of expression. For the first time, I am truly afraid".

According to her, modern Indians have decided to trade off human rights for the fake promise of development.

She told TOI "It is almost like under Modi raaj, there can be no differing views. The level of intolerance that one is noticing against anyone opposing Modi and the courage with which the attacks are happening clearly shows how anti-socials and political goons know there is someone to protect them".

She added "The myth of development in Gujarat under Modi has resulted in modern Indians choosing to forget the horrifying Gujarat riots. It is almost like completer shutters down over their eyes. We have chosen to forget how Muslims were slaughtered in Gujarat in the biggest blot on Indian democracy in recent years".

Nandita has now lent her support to a campaign which says "Dear Fellow-Indians, The best thing about our country is its cultural diversity, its pluralism - the co-existence of a number of religions and ethnicities over centuries, and hence the blooming of multiple streams of intellectual and artistic thought. And, this has been possible only because Indian society has prided itself on being essentially secular in character, rejecting communal hatred, and embracing tolerance".

"Today, that very sense of India is vulnerable. The need of the hour is to protect our country's secular foundation. Undoubtedly, corruption and governance are important issues, but we will have to vigilantly work out ways of holding our government accountable to that. However, one thing is clear: India's secular character is not negotiable. Not now, not ever. As Indian citizens who love our motherland, we appeal to you to vote for the secular party which is most likely to win in your constituency".

Nandita's warnings come just days after sculptor Anish Kapoor, film director Deepa Mehta, novelist Salman Rushdie and some of the best known Indian academics teaching in Britain's top universities sharply attacked the BJP leader saying "The idea of Modi in power fills us with dread".

They warned that a Modi victory would "likely mean greater moral policing, especially of women, increased censorship and vigilantism, and more tensions with India's neighbours"

Professors from institutions like the London School of Economics, Cambridge, Oxford, SOAS and King's College issued a letter opposing Modi as the next Indian Prime Minister.

The 75-strong intelligentsia led by Prof Chetan Bhatt and Gautam Appa of LSE sharply attacked the BJP leader saying "The idea of Modi in power fills us with dread".

Calling Modi a leader embedded in the Hindu nationalist movement, namely the RSS and other Sangh Parivar groups, with their history of inciting violence against minorities, they highlighted how groups that support Modi stand accused in recent terrorist attacks against civilians.

They said "As the people of India vote to elect their next government, we are deeply concerned at the implications of a Narendra Modi-led BJP government for democracy, pluralism and human rights in India. We recall the extreme violence by the Hindu Right in Gujarat in 2002 which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. This violence occurred under Modi's rule, and senior government and police officials have provided testimony of his alleged role in encouraging or permitting it to occur".

They added "Some of his close aides have been convicted for their involvement, and legal proceedings are ongoing in the Gujarat high court which may result in Modi being indicted for his role. He has never apologized for hate speech or contemptuous comments about various groups - including Muslims, Christians, women and Dalits. His closest aide has been censured recently by India's Election Commission for hate speech used in this election campaign".

The latest letter comes just a few weeks after more than a dozen of India's most revered artists and academics expressed "acute worry" at the prospect of Modi becoming the country's Prime Minister.

The group that included British lawyers, activists, academics and three members of the British parliament said "Modi refuses to accept any responsibility or to apologize for the horrifying events that took place in Gujarat in 2002. Without questioning the validity of India's democratic election process, it is crucial to remember the role played by the Modi government in the horrifying events that took place in Gujarat in 2002. The Muslim minority were overwhelmingly the victims of pillage, murder and terror, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 men, women and children. Women, in particular, were subjected to brutal acts of violence and were left largely unprotected by the security forces".


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