BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra has slammed Congress leader Salman Khurshid’s new book, Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times, and said that the party is exploring legal options to get the book banned. Khurshid’s book has courted controversy by comparing “the Hindutva movement with terror outfits like ISIS and Boko Haram.”
This comes close after Mishra demanded a ban on a jewellery collection by designer Sabyasachi and an ad by Dabur, both of which were subsequently withdrawn.
In the latest, calling Khurshid’s book “condemnable” and hitting out at those who “don’t leave an opportunity to divide Hindus or divide our country”, the Madhya Pradesh home minister said, “The Congress talks of dividing the country and Salman Khurshid has taken the same idea forward in his book Sunrise Over Ayodhya. We will take opinion from legal experts about banning this book in Madhya Pradesh.”
“They (the Congress leaders) want that somehow the country gets divided on the basis of castes. They want to ensure Hindutva gets fragmented and so they do not leave any opportunity to attack our faith,” Mishra added.
Speaking to reporters, Mishra said, “Salman Khurshid’s book is condemnable. They don’t leave an opportunity to divide Hindus into castes or to divide our county… Was Rahul Gandhi not the first to go to those who said ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’? Salman Khurshid is working on the same agenda.”
The Madhya Pradesh minister’s remarks were in reference to Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar and the rally he addressed in Delhi five years ago (when he was a student at JNU), at which the slogan was allegedly raised.
Khurshid’s book, meanwhile, has also received condemnation from his party colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad, who in a tweet said, “In Mr. Salman Khursheed’s new book, we may not agree with Hindutva as a political ideology distinct from composite culture of Hinduism, but comparing Hindutva with ISIS and Jihadist Islam is factually wrong and an exaggeration.”
In Mr. Salman Khursheed’s new book, we may not agree with Hindutva as a political ideology distinct from composite culture of Hinduism, but comparing Hindutva with ISIS and Jihadist Islam is factually wrong and an exaggeration.
— Ghulam Nabi Azad (@ghulamnazad) November 11, 2021
In an interview to PTI, Khurshid defended his stand in the book saying, “I have not called these guys terrorists… What Hindutva has done, it has pushed aside Sanatan Dharma and Hinduism and it has taken over a robust, aggressive position similar to Boko Haram and those other guys.”
In his book, Khurshid has also questioned the pro-Hindutva stance of a some Congress leaders and warned parties with secular leanings against jumping on the Hindutva bandwagon in a bid to ape the BJP.
Controversial excerpts from Khurshid’s book:
On Ram Temple in Ayodhya
Judicial history has been written. Now it will be etched in stone, by way of the grand temple, the design of which seems to grow by the day. In August 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath participated in the bhoomi poojan along with a few select invitees. People recalled how Jawaharlal Nehru had swayed away from the inaugural ceremony of the refurbished Somnath temple in 1951.
But those were times when India aspired to move from being a traditional society towards a modern one, inspired and guided by the Constitution.
Contemporary aspirations blessed by official government policy, aim for a return to tradition as part of the restoration of faith in society.
Undoubtedly, the PM will await a grand inaugural of a completed Ram Mandir. As politicians across the political spectrum seek to capitalise on the prevailing public sentiment, whether real or presumed, it is forgotten that the Supreme Court has directed that land be given for a mosque as well.
The Temple is for everyone, but as yet it seems that the mosque belongs to the UP Sunni Waqf Board alone. Are we dealing with a government that seeks to divide not just Hindus from other communities but a section of Muslims from other Muslims as well?
If only the PM had expressed the wish to see a mosque come up and be invited to its inauguration, we might have felt reassured that we live in a modern, secular, constitutional India, free of injustices past and present.
On Congress and pro-Hindutva stance
In my own party, the Congress, discussion often veers towards this subject. There is a section that with growing assertiveness, regrets the fact that our image is that of a pro-minority party and advocates the jeneu-dhari credentials of our leadership; this section responded to Ayodhya judgement with the declaration that a bhavya (grand) temple should be built on the site, bypassing any further politics over this issue. That position, of course, overlooked or sidestepped the part of the Supreme Court order, directing land to be given for a masjid as well.
The BJP must know what it intends, but its top leaders skirt the issue in their ambition to secure world recognition, while secular parties remain caught in a vortex of uncertainty and unreliable ideology moorings. One is reminded of “the King is dead; long live the King” and “if you can’t beat them, join them.”