As the Bharatiya Janata Party government completes one year in Maharashtra, people from all walks of life are applauding its performance, more so when compared to the 15 years of Congress-NCP misrule. But this one year has been nightmarish for a particular lot which still has not been able to come to terms with the fact that the BJP won the maximum number of seats in the Assembly elections where all the parties contested solo. From the very first day that we have come to power, we have been facing their unfair and biased criticism. And this despite the mandate we got from the people who were totally fed up with the earlier misgovernance. Ideally, this lot should have introspected the reason behind the change in public sentiment, but their prejudice against the BJP government blinded them. What followed was a series of irrelevant and illogical criticism of the government. Of course, criticism coming from Congress-NCP is understandable, it is part of their political agenda, but what about these people?
Ideological differences are not new to Maharashtra, which has witnessed differences between Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and later, between B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi. But at the time, there was a healthy communication between the two sides. Sadly, today’s Maharashtra has lost that communication and respect. So one side is constantly at the receiving end for not toeing the line of the “intellectual” few. In this context, I remember Marathi writer Kamal Padhey’s quote from his biography of Acharya Jawdekar, Yatidharma. He said, “I will do politics, but not of power.” But our so-called intellectuals are doing exactly the opposite.
I remember a gentleman calling me the day after the Chief Minister’s swearing-in, to enquire if toll-booths had been shut down. Considering the ministers had barely taken charge of their ministries, no one expected this to happen overnight, but these people started showing their malaise within 24 hours.
Fadanavis and his team are working overtime to change the face of Maharashtra for the better. So the opposition should not be just for the sake of it. Of course, we are open to criticism, but criticism has to be done with a positive attitude and an open mind.
And this is not an isolated case. Many of them consider it their national duty to attack the government without checking the facts or sometimes by even hiding them. For instance, the High Court issued directions about filing cases about sedition, thanks to the glaring mistakes of the previous Congress-NCP government. This government translated the order in Marathi and forwarded it to the police stations. In no time, the circular got turned into a government decision and the government was accused of being against freedom of expression. These intelligent people should very well know that it was not a decision taken by the government at a Cabinet meeting, yet they chose to bash it.
Interestingly, these proponents of freedom of expression kept mum on Babasaheb Purandare’s Maharashtra Bhushan award episode. Recently, the staging of an English play was opposed by some Christian organisations, but none of these intellectuals spoke out in support of freedom of expression in this case. Imagine if this was done by a Hindu organisation. There would have been much uproar about freedom of expression. These people did not acknowledge the government’s efforts in handling the situation well during the play. Ditto for Khurshid Kasuri’s book release in Mumbai. It was the government’s duty to provide protection to the guest, but no one lauded the government for a job well-done.
The lobby that never had any problems with the various scams of the Congress-NCP, suddenly has a problem with every non-existent “scam” by this government. When some of the ministers had not even given new purchase orders, these people were attacking them for alleged wrongdoing in purchase. Recently, Sharad Pawar led an agitation in Osmanabad for farmers. If within six months of being out of power, the NCP chief has to agitate for farmers, it shows his own government’s failure. For it was his and his ally’s government that ruled the state for 15 long years, but failed to solve the problems facing the farmers or provide irrigation to drought-prone regions. If they had provided water to Marathwada from river Krishna, people would not have suffered today. But nobody questioned their failure, obviously because bashing the BJP government is more important than talking about the failures of Congress-NCP.
Same is the case with meat ban during Paryushan, a practice which was started during Congress rule. These pseudo-seculars had no problem then, but now with BJP in power, they were out there with all guns blazing. We are not in an Emergency. Emergency was declared by the Congress, where one was not allowed to breathe even a word against the government. Our government welcomes criticism, but the criticism here reeks of bias and does not have any substance.
First, these people pretend to be custodians of free speech and healthy democratic debate, and in the same breath do not give space to a different viewpoint. Or, worse still, they are selective about what issues to make a huge hue and cry about. How is that for hypocrisy? Sadly, this is the true face of the pseudo-seculars and it is getting exposed every day, ever since the BJP government has come to power. This section of society is so biased and intellectually arrogant that it has isolated itself from the rest of society. They live in their ivory towers, and condescendingly bash the ideologies they oppose. These gatekeepers of free speech and tolerance are themselves violating the idea of tolerance and spreading the lie that communal unrest is growing under BJP rule.
Maharashtra government’s agenda is development. Will you be a part of this transformation or will you show your hypocrisy at every step? Your ideological difference may not allow you to appreciate the government, but why malign its image? The state government is bringing in many positive changes at all levels. It has started getting investments under Make in Maharashtra, it is working on farmers’ issues. The government is trying to strengthen every section of society, even though it has been burdened with an empty treasury and huge debts by the previous government. Chief Minister Devendra Fadanavis and his team are working overtime to change the face of Maharashtra for the better. So the opposition should not be just for the sake of it. Of course, we are open to criticism, but criticism has to be done with a positive attitude and an open mind. Only then can these people see the real picture, if they want to see it at all.
@keshavupadhye is Maharashtra spokesman for BJP.