DATELINE Guwahati /Wasbir Hussain
Mr P B Acharya, former active BJP leader, has total freedom of expression under the Constitution to express his views or thoughts. Governor PB Acharya, still has the freedom of expression, but now that he is holding a high Constitutiol post, everyone is justified in expecting him to be politically correct and responsible in his utterings.
The Assam Governor created a ruckus last week by saying that ‘Hindustan is for the Hindus’. He later called a news conference to clarify that his ‘Hindustan is for Hindus’ remark was part of his broader argument that any Indian-origin Hindu or Indian-origin people of other religions for that matter can come and seek refuge in India, if persecuted abroad. The rendra Modi Government has already decided to facilitate the stay in India of the Hindus who had left the country following alleged persecution.
In this backdrop, one is prepared to accept Governor Acharya’s explation about the context of his ‘Hindustan is for Hindus’ remark. But, what is disturbing and ucceptable is the Governor’s subsequent remark that Indian Muslims, if they so desire, were free to go to Pakistan or Bangladesh. He had also said that many Indian Muslims have gone to Pakistan. I have had several long interactions with Governor Acharya in course of my jourlistic duties where he came across as a pro-active Governor who is a no-nonsense leader. He has been forthright with his views on the mis-governce in certain departments in Assam and has also drawn the ire of the Congress Government in the State. I was shocked, however, at his rather amateurish view on the ‘Indian Muslims can go to Pakistan or Bangladesh’ part.
Everyone knows where Governor Acharya is coming from. But his latest comments have forced some people to wonder whether he has been vested with a mandate by certain power-centres to polarise people in the State. Or, is he doing so on his own? I persolly would not like to believe that Governor Acharya would intend to do anything of this sort and would like to persolly engage with him to understand his mind. Since Assam is poll-bound, any attempt by any quarter to disturb the social fabric may impact on the people’s verdict.
I would like to believe that Governor Acharya has been able to shed his active political past and slip seamlessly into his new role as the Constitutiol head of the State. If this is not the case, statements like those that he has made would harm the interests of the BJP, desperate to grab power in Assam. It is also a fact that Governor Acharya’s comments have already provided the ruling Congress in the State to target him, seek his replacement and has also provided it with a handle to beat the BJP with. The Assam BJP leaders may or may not counsel the Governor on this, but they are aware that the dymics in Assam are different from northern and central India and that crude politics of polarisation may not quite work in the State.
Prime Minister Modi is very rightly harping on the strengths of India’s diversity during his foreign lectures and everyone in the BJP or Modi’s supporters, including many holding high posts, would be well advised to follow that line to take our tion forward. As far as Assam is concerned, the Sangh parivar must immediately stop importing ‘leaders’ from outside to go around calling our icons with wrong mes – ‘Lachit Baruah’ instead of Lachit Borphukan! The person who called Lachit Borphukan ‘Lachit Baruah’ may be an exception, but that can well give an impression that matters of Assam or the North-east may not quite be on the finger-tips of such imported leaders.