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Mahua Moitra is playing the same old liberals’ politics

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

Mahua Moitra’s saying of: Kali-Mata smoking and drinking would definitely enrage practicing Hindus. Her citation in minor parts of places of worship that it’s in practice seems only to justify her stand-point that went wrong in public. India, although a liberal country in other ways, it would not take lightly comments on the God/deities they worship. Gone are those days where the left-liberals abused their freedom of speech specially in criticizing Hindu religion and its practices. That kind of thinking i.e. no-hold-barred airing of views on Hindu religious aspects weakened along with the weakening of the so-called secular-liberal politics in India. Mahua Moitra wading into these religious issues is like getting back the M.F. Hussain’s paintings’ era. Her positioning is like: an old wine in a new bottle

In the Liberal La La Land, the Hindu deities baiting is a liberal virtue: Hindus place the gods or goddess they worship on the highest pedestal. The followers would like to emulate. The negative portrayal of smoking and drinking by the goddess is atrocious. Those two habits (smoking and drinking) come under the prohibited category (to use albeit excessively) even in the modern-day world. Almost all religions in the world restrain their use. Attributing those two anathemas to goddess Kali cannot be accepted by the majority of Hindus however hoarse Ms Moitra tries to cry. Her party- Trinamool Congress (TMC) distanced her.

For supporting her (Mahua’s) statement, her liberal colleague in politics Mr. Shashi Tharoor was also distanced by his party- the Congress, saying that they were his personal remarks. When it comes to minority religions, even if someone perceptibly touches, the liberals immediately come to their rescue.  Hurting the sentiments of Hindus is not hate speech to them, ipso facto, is true in the case of minorities. This is the politics played all along by the Congress.

“I don’t wear religion on my sleeve”: This kind of die-hard liberal secularists (the likes of Mahua Moitra) wear religion on their sleeve to protect themselves as a shield for their misdeeds/failures. Mahua’s negative analysis on Goddess Kali in India Today Conclave-2022 backfired on her. Hence, for course correction she says she is a  practicing Hindu and has every right to say what she said on goddess Kali. Mahua differentiates her statement on the Goddess Kali and Nupur Sharma’s quote by saying— as she (Mahua) belongs to the Hindu religion she could say what she wants, whereas Nupur Sharma cannot say on other religion.

This kind of definition of Free speech is not found in the western world. It is strange… a religion is a religion. The other name for religion is “faith”. Faith means one’s belief. If the majority of Hindus believe the goddess would not smoke or drink that prevails in the society.

Coming to hate-speech part: Whether what Mahua Moitra said on Goddess Kali is hate-speech or not need not be analyzed. According to law in many countries hate-speech is— a speech made by a “reasonable person” (not by any nondescript person) that incites or promotes or justifies hatred, intolerance and hostility in society. India wants a civil society. Civil means adhering to the norms of polite social intercourse and common courtesy. If she denigrates  the goddess of Hindus in public, that means, she is giving fillip to conversions. This is what evangelical groups do. Some evangelical missionaries demean Hindu deities so as to elevate and promote their faith.

Being a Member of Parliament, she is supposed to be a “reasonable person”. Her speech would not behoove the Constitutional position she is holding. Moreover she is doing harm to the religion she says she is practicing. She is asking Hindus to go to Bhutan or Sikkim to see how people there worship Kali differently as she stated. This is bizarre! Is she fighting elections in W. Bengal or Bhutan? Referring to some corner is no great deal. What the majority practice becomes the custom. Mahua’s left leaning rantings in advocating her point of view— like she is going  to fight against— Brahmanism, Patriarchy etc. are the same as stereotyping Hindu religion, that goes against the Hindu outlook of diversity.

In the perception battle Mahua is acting like the Kali film director Leena Manimekalai who projects the negative side of Hindu culture. In India, freedom of speech is not “absolute”. It has its reasonable restrictions. In a highly religious country, applying freedom of speech to Hindu religion alone and loosely saying what they think right in public would certainly have the repercussions to face.

The other liberal and secular stalwart that burnt his fingers: Shashi Tharoor says he supported Mahua Moitra because Alexander Hamilton of America stated, “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” Hamilton’s statement may suit in the U.S. as he belongs to that country. But not in India. Shashi Tharoor’s or for that matter Mahua Moitra’s personal stands are not counted in their party itself, leave alone in the public. Of course, these politicians fall for anything (with no stand to stand) to remain in their respective parties. They boast about their freedom of speech outside their parties, not inside. Finally, they need to take cue from their favorite  English language  proverb: ‘Fools go where angels fear to tread’, while taking stand on Hindu practices.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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