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The not-so-curious case of Mohua Moitra

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So some Leena Manimekalai makes a film on LGBTQ in Canada and decides to publicize it by coming up with a poster of Maa Kaali, the Hindu goddess smoking & carrying the Rainbow Flag on the other hand.

The ploy worked, a relatively unknown filmmaker who has been unsuccessfully selling her Dalit identity in a “patriarchal ~feudal society” for years finally got her place under the sun. She’s suddenly an agenda to defend and the global anti-Hindu(~tva) brigade went into overdrive. Too bad that most of the leftists in India are Bengalis and found it safer to steer clear of the controversy which can make them very unpopular in Bengal.

Commenting on the poster controversy, Mohua Moitra, the flamboyant MP from TMC justified the “art” saying the Goddess Kaali is known to consume meat & liquor and the same is offered to her during the Puja. So the demon~destroying incarnation of Maa Durga who kills Raktabeej by sucking his blood before it can reach the ground, and eating his numerous clones was now just a step away from being declared a junkie with a joint in one hand and an LGBTQ flag in another.

The controversy which would have gone unnoticed except for a few tweets in response, got the adrenaline it needed as the investment banker from New York tried milking the issue to reaffirm her liberal, secular credentials. The Twitter following of Leena Manimekalai was barely in three figures but her cause received a shot in the arm with the endorsement of a politician followed by nearly seven hundred thousand people. It also provoked the desired outrage with people lodging FIRs all over the country.

But this is where you see the difference between the cautious leader and the over-enthusiastic foot soldiers. Mamata’s party immediately distanced itself from the views of its star campaigner and the CM even went on to suggest “rectification of the mistake”.

So with the exception of a couple of keyboard warriors who tweeted “more power” to her, she is now basically on her own with NDTV and The Wire keeping her company in these isolated times.

She did try backing out of the debate claiming that she never said anything about “smoking”, but it was too late to go back on her endorsement of Freedom of Speech and Art she has been ironically denying another lady politician accused of similar charges. In fact majority of her tweets last few days are devoted to crucifying Nupur Sharma and calling for her arrest.

Interestingly she also tried justifying her stand by quoting scriptures. And she’s denying the same privilege to Nupur Sharma claiming that in her own case it is a Hindu commenting on Hinduism while Nupur dared to criticize another religion. So her much flaunted norms of truth & freedom are case-specific, rather religion-specific. That makes her just another politician deriving political juice out of a situation that can throw the country down a spirally turmoil.

But what prompted Mohua Moitra to take the plunge in the first place! Well, growing up in India in the 70s and 80s (as she did) gave us a certain rule book on our own brand of secularism. This was precisely the time when the magic words “secular & socialist” were added to amend our otherwise sacred Preamble of the Constitution. And we were under pressure to demonstrate the success of the revolutionary step.

Simple minority appeasement was not enough, ridiculing the faith of the majority community coupled with branding it as an evil manifestation of a “patriarchal ~ Brahminical” order became the norm. Bollywood became the bandwagon for such secular~socialist propaganda where the greedy Brahmin symbolized the faith and the lusty Thakur represented the co-conspirator, the upholder of everything that is wrong with the universe.

So MF Hussain drawing Hindu goddesses in nude became art and cartoons on Muhammad ensured a sar-tan-se-juda verdict. And we saw the liberal brigade unapologetic about the sheer hypocrisy involved.

This is precisely what Mohua was doing when she ridiculed the majority faith by defending what was clearly a cheap provocation and this is again exactly what she’s doing in her defense by making it a Brahminical agenda, a North Indian invasion of the Bangla religious order, a patriarchal society bent upon subjugating a female crusader.

This one~way secular street has been trampled away by too many for too long. Mohua will have to come up with better arguments to defend her brand of beliefs where her own utterances on religion are classic examples of Freedom of Expression even as she leads the pack witch-hunting Nupur Sharma for her “blasphemous comments”.

Anupam Mishra

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