Justice Markandey Katju-
In his article ‘India’s emerging fascism is on record, thanks to Mahua Moitra ‘published in thewire.in, Sidhartha Bhatia has waxed eloquent on Mahua Moitra’s maiden speech in Parliament in which she spoke of 7 early signs of fascism. He writes, “She has done the job of finally saying the unsayable in the most important forum in the country.”
Very brave words indeed! But what Mr. Bhatia conveniently overlooks is one thing: who says something is as important as what he/she says. Surely one would laugh at Hitler, Mussolini or General Tojo speaking against fascism.
Mahua joined the Trinamul Congress in 2010. Did she raise her voice against her leader Mamata Banerjee acting in a fascist manner when in 2012 she got arrested Prof Ambikesh Mahapatra of Jadavpur University who circulated a poof of Mamata on the social media, or the farmer Siladitya Choudhary who was arrested only because he said in a public meeting that Mamata had not kept her election promises ? Did Mahua publicly protest when TMC goons beat up Prof Ambikesh Mahapatra or did other acts of hooliganism, or were her lips sealed then? I never heard that she did, though she was a member of TMC then. So does it now lie in her mouth to talk of signs of fascism when the leader of her own party is fascist? Is it not like the pot calling the kettle black?
Mahua spoke in Parliament of the divisive nature of BJP politics and intertwining of politics and religion. But that is precisely what her leader Mamata Banerjee has been doing for years. Why did Mahua not protest when her leader Mamata Banerjee announced in 2011 ( which was after Mahua joined the TMC in 2010 ) that each of the imams in West Bengal’s 30,000 mosques would get a dole of Rs 2500 per month, land for building houses, and money for their children’s’ education, and each muezzin will get Rs 1500 p.m. ( which was declared unconstitutional by the Calcutta High Court ) ? Was this not divisive politics and intertwining of politics with religion, just to secure the 27% Muslim vote bank in West Bengal? Why did Mahua not protest against TMC posters in Muslim majority areas in West Bengal during the elections showing Mamata offering namaz with her head covered in a white cloth? Why did she not protest when Mamata ordered ban on idol immersion after 6 p.m. on Vijay Dashmi Day of Durga puja, allegedly on the ground that Muharram would take place at that time and there could be clashes? Surely posting extra police in sensitive areas would have sufficed. The Calcutta High Court said that such a restriction had never earlier been placed in Bengal, and it was nothing but Muslim appeasement. In fact, it was this appeasement policy which made many Bengali Hindus to vote for the BJP, giving it 18 seats in the Lok Sabha.
But perhaps Mahua has been rewarded for remaining mute on all this by being given a Lok Sabha ticket
I wish Sidhartha Bhatia had asked the above questions instead of simply singing fulsome panegyrics and hallelujahs of his new found idol Mahua Moitra.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own]