Sutanu Guru

The author was randomly scrolling down Google News the other day and stumbled upon the following headline: “Christian community decry Church leaders for attending Christmas lunch hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”. The story has been published by the online edition of the newspaper Telegraph on December 29, 2023. Since the newspaper is published in Kolkata and I live in Delhi, I have no idea if the printed edition carried the story. I doubt, since printed newspapers rarely have space for such lengthy headlines.

In any case, this is the age of online news. Also, in any case, the Telegraph isn’t exactly very fond of Narendra Modi or any member representing his regime. I would have, like in more than 95% of such cases, read the headline, smiled and moved on. But the words “Christian community decry Church leaders” intrigued me enough to actually read the story.

The very first line of the story unraveled the mystery. It says: “Activists, including members of the Christian community, decried Church leaders and eminent Christians…”. The story then goes on to repeat the same old tirades and rants of three “prominent” activists, of which perhaps one is a Christian. He is John Dayal, a former journalist who has turned into a crusader who saves Christianity in India from the murderous mobs unleashed by the Modi regime!

I have known John Dayal quite well. In the late 1980s, when he was still an active journalist, John was a raconteur who made us laugh at the Press Club of India after a few drinks. Now, it is sad to see this man spew venom at the drop of a hat. So vicious and so vile and inflammatory have his remarks become that most television channels avoid having him as a panelist. He used to be a regular joker in the TV debate circus of Delhi. According to the Telegraph story, John said that Church leaders attending the lunch should have demanded assurances of safety for fellow Christians in Manipur from Modi.

For the likes of John, even the festive day of Christmas must not be a day of “ceasefire” in the relentless assault on Narendra Modi. He also slammed the Modi regime for blacklisting and cancelling registrations of “Christian” NGOs. In the Press Club days, the author, though much younger, had a higher salary than John and often paid for his Old Monk. But the man and his NGO club had attracted tens of crores, possibly much more, since he became a crusader. Good luck to him.

Another activist who plays a starring role in the Telegraph story is Shabnam Hashmi. The story quotes her: “We are in a fight for the soul of India, to save democracy and secularism, at a time of fascist onslaught. Under the circumstances, instead of arising their voice against atrocities, on the attack on democracy in India, we have religious leaders costing up to the PM…”.

The author has also met Shabnam Hashmi, but doesn’t really know her. But I vividly recall January 2, 1989 when a bunch of Congress goons murdered her brother Safdar Hashmi in broad daylight in Ghaziabad near Delhi, Safdar was a communist activist and a playwright who led a street theatre group. The real masterminds behind his brutal murder, almost definitely Congress leaders, were never punished.

But since Shabnam Hashmi is determined to “save secularism and democracy”, she never found it ironic to work closely with the very political party whose goons killed her brother. Shabnam was closely associated with the UPA regime and periodically laments the “death of democracy” ever since Narendra Modi reduced the Congress to 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Good luck to her.

The third star activist to feature in the Telegraph story is “academician” Apoorvanand, another full member of the hate Modi club. The Telegraph story quotes him: “To put a curtain over this, to reduce the seriousness of these incidents (apparently attacks by RSS on Christians), to say that this government’s policies have benefited Christians-it is shameful and painful to see religious leaders do this”.

Apoorvanand writes prolifically and tried very hard to present his relentless tirades against Narendra Modi as informed scholarship. But like with most others, his tirades have become tiresome and there are no signs that the ordinary Indian voter wastes her time listening to, watching or reading their drivel. What I find most amusing is these “activists” criticising ordinary Christians for celebrating Christmas because the host is a man they hate. It is not very different from the current trend of “liberals” deriding “cow belt” voters for being stupid enough to choose the BJP over their favoured leaders and parties.

Indian liberals are uniquely destructive. They corrode the places they inhabit. For instance, many have wondered why the BJP went into such a tailspin after the shock defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. After all, it was still led by L. K. Advani who must get credit for the resurgence of the BJP via the Ram Temple movement. How did an Advani led BJP lose even more badly in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections? Leaders do make blunders in choices and Advani did. His key advisor in that period was a man called Sudheendra Kulkarni. It is hardly a surprise that Kulkarni turned out to be a typical “Indian Liberal”. While not spewing venom at Modi the way fellow “liberals” do, he nevertheless makes his dislike for the Modi regime very clear.

Good luck to all of them.

(Author has been a media professional for over 3 decades. He is now Executive Director, C Voter Foundation. Views are Personal)