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War of words over Hamid Ansari's 'two pandemics' that hit India before Covid

Before Covid-19, our society became a victim of two other pandemics -- religiosity and strident nationalism, Ansari said

Saturday November 21, 2020 8:50 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

Hamid Ansari on Nationalism

New Delhi: A war of words, on and off social media, erupted after former Vice President and acclaimed scholar Hamid Ansari raised concerns over the prevailing situation in India under Narendra Modi saying the country was already under the grip of two pandemics before Covid-19.

Speaking at the virtual launch of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's book 'The Battle of Belonging', Hamid Ansari said that in a short space of four years, India has made a long journey from its founding vision of civic nationalism to a new political imagery of cultural nationalism that appears to be firmly embedded in the public realm, according to news agency PTI.

Also Read | Indian right wing's Hamid Ansari dilemma

The former vice president said that "there is a passionate plea for an ideal of India (in the book), an India that was taken for granted by our generation" and now is seemingly endangered by "overt and covert ideas and ideologies that seek to segment it on imagined criteria of us and them".

"Hitherto, our core values were summed up as an existential reality of a plural society, a democratic polity and a secular state structure. These were accepted in the freedom movement, they were incorporated in the Constitution and encapsulated in the preamble of the Constitution," said Hamid Ansari, who was Vice-President of India for two consecutive terms from 2007-2017.

"The COVID-19 as a pandemic is bad enough, but before it our society became a victim of two other pandemics -- religiosity and strident nationalism. Religiosity is defined as extreme religious ardour, denoting exaggerated embodiment, involvement or zeal for certain aspects of religious activity enforced through social and even governmental pressure," he said.

Fadnavis reacts

Irked by Hamid Ansari's comments, senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis explained the meaning of "Hindutva".

"Hindutva has never been a hardline (ideology). It has always been tolerant. Hindutva has been the ancient way of living in this country. Hindus never attacked anyone or any country or any state," the former chief minister told reporters while responding to a query on Ansari's statement.

Twitter also saw a number of comments against Hamid Ansari, mostly by known trolls affiliated with the ruling dispensation. Most of the comments on Twitter, instead of positive insight have derogatory and hateful overtone, thus validating what Hamid Ansari has said.

Farooq Abdullah endorses Ansari

However, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah who was also a part of the book launch event took the discussion forward endorsing what Hamid Ansari had said.

"We had the opportunity of joining Pakistan in 1947, it was my father and the others who felt that the two-nation theory is not for us", Abdullah said.

Also Read | History doesn’t allow me to trust Modi: Delhi Imam says on PM's Independence Day speech

"Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, or Christians are not different as they are all human beings and this is why we chose (Mahatma) Gandhi's India, (Jawaharlal) Nehru's India, an India which belongs to everyone", he added.

"That's how I felt till this government came in. They think that only a Hindu can be an Indian and all others who are there cannot be Indians. They are second class citizens. I am not going to accept this till my dying day," he said.

"Today we are being divided on the basis of religion, caste, creed and language. Tyrants come and tyrants go. But, nations continue to survive. I am confident that this nation will also survive and these dividers will go," the National Conference leader said.

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