The events of last fortnight have saddened me, not as a Muslim but as an Indian. Varun Gandhi and his audacity of criticizing muslims have taken us all by surprise. It was always clear that the BJP and the Sangh Parivar would stoop to the lowest levels for polarizing the Indian society. After all this is a do or die election for LK Advani, the “iron man” of the party. But how fair were they in using Varun Gandhi, the great grandson of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in carrying this baton of hate?
Practicing in a prestigious medical Institute, it occasionally falls upon me to take care of the so called “politically connected” patients. A significant number of these patients came from Pilibhit, the constituency where Varun Gandhi wanted to chop off muslims hands. Like most other patients coming to a government medical hospital, these patients were poor and in dire need of help. Like most of the patients coming to the Institute, they had letters from their MP, in this case, Smt. Maneka Gandhi, the mother of Varun Gandhi. And above all, in this cohort of patients, a large number were muslims (with names that frighten Varun Gandhi). But is this all going to change post Varun’s rhetoric of hate? We can only wait and see.
Varun Gandhi has catapulted himself to an advantage position. There is not an iota of doubt in my mind that he will be easily winning the Pilibhit constituency with a huge margin (after all we know that Narendra Modi had no difficulty in retaining Gujarat post Godhra). But is this all that matters in politics? Are numbers important than individuals? Is abhorrence of a community the mantra for change? Well, we all can watch with hope.
As an Indian I earnestly hope for things to change. After all it was hope that changed America. It was hope that kept the likes of Mahatma Gandhi to flirt with the idea of freedom. It was hope that let Martin Luther King dream. It was hope that kept Nelson Mandela alive and it was hope which energized Varun’s great grandfather to build a secular and pluralistic India even when we were plagued by the scourge of partition. It’s time for the common Indian to hope. Hope for a change from politics of hate to politics of inclusiveness. Hope for a change from oratory of hate to a language of healing. Hope for a change from repugnance to esteem. Hope for a change from saffron to white, the color of peace.