Recently, the video of a confrontation by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee surfaced on social media. The late BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee had once schooled the famous lyricist, Javed Akhtar when the latter attempted to paint the Hindu majority and the BJP as communal. The netizens are going crazy over the perfect reply by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s perfect reply to Javed Akhtar
In a conversation with Pritish Nandy and the show’s co-host Javed Akhtar on ‘Face Off’ in 1998, Javed Akhtar claimed that often ‘communalism’ of the majority community in several countries is shrewdly created as nationalism.
At about 17:26 minutes into the video, Akhtar stated that ‘communal Hindus’ used nationalism as a veil to cover their deeds.
Javed Akhtar asked,
“What is the definition of nationalism and communalism for the majority community?”
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is seen responding,
“If a Hindu in India by virtue of his majority demands more rights for himself and seeks lesser for the minority community, then, I will call such a behaviour as communal”
Akhtar was adamant and further emphasised,
“If the rights are the same and it is guaranteed by the Constitution (with independent judiciary), vigilant press and elected representatives of the Parliament, then, the scope of injustice to minorities is significantly reduced”
The Former Prime Minister argued back saying, that India is secular not because of the BJP or the RSS when Akhtar interjected saying that India is secular despite them.
Nonetheless, Vajpayee continued,
“Bharat is secular because 82% of its populace is Hindus. It is the thought process and philosophy of Hindus that make this country secular. Hindus are not bound by a single book, or a single prophet. Even an atheist is a Hindu. Hinduism embraces all”
The BJP leader further added,
“Now there is Human Rights Commission, and Minorities Commission. These were constituted by a State where Hindus are a majority. No one objected to it. Once Pakistan was formed, the Hindu majority did not seek an exclusivist Hindu Raj with no place for minorities”
Akhtar further said,
“There is no demand for Hindu Raj (theocracy) but Hindu Rashtra, which is entirely a different concept. None has demanded theocracy so far or the declaration of the Hindu Faith as a State religion or that Muslims be discriminated for the virtue of their religion”
Atal Bihari Vajpayee said,
“I want to assure you that. The concept of Rashtra is different. India wasn’t born in 1947 but an ancient civilisation…Sometimes the Hindu community should be thanked for upholding secularism in the country”
Javed Akhtar trying to drive a conflict between former PM and Advani
Around 10 minutes into the conversation, Javed Akthar tried to drive a conflict between the two by inquiring Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani if their ideology matched when it came to religious minorities.
“They are not different. Both of us believe in the same thing. In fact, our party believes in the same thing…Minorities are citizens of India and are entitled to equal rights and responsibilities.”
He further added,
“There has never been discrimination on the basis of religion in this country. And this will not change even in the future. The BJP has made its stance clear that India was/is/ will be a secular state”
The former PM emphasised,
“Minorities in India should not live under any false sense of fear. Our rivals have created this fear in the minds of minorities by presenting us as ‘demons.’ But this game won’t last for long. Muslims have started to realise that other parties have exploited them as vote banks”
On relationship with RSS
Javed Akthar then addressed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a radical Hindu outfit, which apparently does not consider Muslims to be equal citizens of India. He claimed that such an idea has been reflected in the writings of KB Hedgewar, MS Golwalkar, and others.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee refuted this by saying,
“They have clearly written that those who live in India and love the country will be treated fairly and won’t be discriminated against on the basis of religion”
At 26 minutes into the conversation, he highlighted that,
“The relationship with the RSS is of the people. All members of the BJP are not members of the RSS. As the party will grow in future, there will be people who are not associated with the RSS in any way”
The former Prime Minister lastly pointed out that there is no contradiction in the ideologies shared by that of the RSS and of the BJP.