If you thought BJP is the only party in India whose workers are patriots first and politicians later, then there's food for thought in the media conference held by the newly-crowned chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed actually thanked the Hurriyat Conference, militants and Pakistan for allowing peaceful elections in that state. And PDP's partner in power, BJP, chose to play it down. Why didn't the party functionaries, whose blood boiled when a Greenpeace activist chose to depose before British parliamentarians against a British company, do a dharna or anything like that to register their protest? Why did all those voices that had called activists "anti-nationals" fall silent when their own ally praised secessionists, militants and a perceived enemy country?
Just a few weeks ago, there was a particularly shrill and nauseating TV debate that pitted "nationalists" and "patriots" against activists defending Greenpeace worker Priya Pillai's right to protest against what she felt was the suffocation of the rights of tribals in Madhya Pradesh. The BJP representative as well as those firm believers in the right-thinking and noble-intentioned government, including the anchor himself, shouted down the activists, calling them "anti-nationals"; one person even went a step further and called activists "scoundrels". The anchor was also outraged by the fact that Pillai chose to depose before British parliamentarians against a British company instead of sitting on dharna or going to an Indian court. That unqualified vilification of activists on primetime TV was a blot on Indian journalism. But it was lauded by many social-media users who had, quite amazingly, figured out the real motive of people who have spent half of their lives doing social work.
All this while, the supporters of the government, including the functionaries of the party in power, kept dishing out lessons in patriotism. On Sunday, BJP didn't ask the new CM or his party why he didn't thank the armed forces, the paramilitary, and the election officials who put their lives on the line to ensure the J&K elections passed off smoothly. When questioned by The Times of India, BJP's Sambit Patra said, "Fate of people of J&K is far more important than statements of any individual."
One would have expected the only patriotic party of the country to denounce Sayeed's comments, take a moral high ground, burn posters and effigies of the CM, and call off the alliance. But nothing of that sort has happened yet. And nothing will. Because it's BJP, the greater Sangh Parivar and some news channels that define the yardstick to measure patriotism. It doesn't apply to powerful politicians or religious leaders who make hate speeches; it only applies to poor activists and others who don't see eye to eye with the government.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.