Indian lawmaker predicts communal riots ahead of elections

  • Shashi Tharoor says no good Hindu wants to see a Ram temple in Ayodhya in place of another worship place
  • Gopalkrishna Gandhi says independent, autonomous institutions facing a great danger of subversion, co-option

CHENNAI: Indian lawmaker Shashi Tharoor has said that Indians will have to brace for unpleasantness in the coming months, as the ruling elite could stoke communal tensions for electoral gains.

Shashi Tharoor

“I think we have to brace ourselves for some more unpleasantness in the months to come because there has been a correlation, in the not so distant past, between the advent of elections and the stoking of religious passions, communal rioting. That’s indeed my worry,” he said during a dialogue on issues and opportunities.

While a vast majority of Hindus believes that Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Ram, no good Hindu would want to see a Ram temple built by demolishing somebody else’s place of worship, said Shashi Tharoor, leader of the Congress party and member of the Lok Sabha from Kerala.

As a Hindu, he was also very conscious that a vast majority of Hindus wanted a Ram temple to be built at the site, he said while responding to a question during the third edition of the Lit For Life Dialogue 2018, arranged by The Hindu newspaper here.

Former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi said that one of the key issues in India was the role of independent, autonomous institutions, which are facing great danger of subversion and co-option. Tharoor said that he had no problem with any of the appointments to central institutions provided the appointees are qualified.

“But it appears in many of these cases, the only qualification that these appointees possess is loyalty to a particular cause, in particular the RSS, and their lack of any other academic pedigree casts doubt on the fitness to the office they have been appointed,” he said.

The Congress leader said that nothing could be more embarrassing than the vice chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University asking for an army tank to be installed on the campus to instil feelings of patriotism, which is the most appalling decision to have been taken by a senior academician.

A recent announcement that anyone earning a salary from the UGC may not publish any article critical of the government was a blatant attempt at censorship by a government that has no respect for freedom of expression, he pointed out.

“At a time when core democratic principles on which this republic has been founded are under assault, when divisiveness and sectarianism are blatantly supported by those in positions of authority and when intimidation and violence are used to silence and stifle dissent, it becomes imperative especially for us in the media to highlight and discuss these trends and to speak truth to power,” said Dr Nirmala Lakshman, director of the The Hindu Group and The Hindu Lit for Life.