A stupidity called iconoclasm

The ‘conquest’ of Tripura has led some over-enthusiastic saffron supporters to vandalize the statue of Lenin at Belonia and Subroom – an act that has been roundly condemned by all, irrespective of political opinion. This has now been followed by vandalizing the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar at Meerut and that of Periyar at Vellore. Ambedkar was the undisputed leader of the dalit people who fought all his life to give the dalits a place under the sun. Desecration of his statue is an insult to the dalits.  Erode Venkata Ramaswamy, popularly known as Periyar, was the leader of the Self-Respect Movement in the then Madras Presidency and founder of the Dravidar Kazhagam. Vandalizing his statue can have only one effect – creating strong indignation among the Tamil people. The perpetrators seem to be totally indifferent to the political repercussions of their provocative acts. Or, maybe, that is their brand of politics.
Not to be left behind, some nitwits in Kolkata disfigured the statue of Shyamaprasad Mookherjee. Those arrested by the police in connection with this incident claimed they were ‘retaliating’ the breaking of Lenin statues in Tripura. Their predecessors in the 1960s and 1970s had vandalized the statues of renowned social reformers like Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Rammohun Roy, etc.  It is the height of stupidity to think that by desecrating the statue of a political personality, his ideas can be combated or defeated. Repression of the communists did not stop the spread of the Marxist ideology the world over. It is the folly of the Marxists that did. The wrong politics of the Naxalites marginalized them in national politics. One section among them is still pursuing the path of armed struggle – killing personnel of the security forces in the name of revolution and being ruthlessly killed by the State in the name of counter-insurgency operations.
Iconoclasm is the last resort of the intolerant who cannot fight ideology with ideology. Or argument with argument. Intolerance has been on the rise in India in recent times and is taking different forms in different places and on different occasions. But the net effect of acts of intolerance, wherever done and by whosoever done, is the same: the weakening of the social fabric of India, creating deep divisions in a polity which was, is and will always be plural. No ideology that weakens the country can have any place or sanction in a democratic and secular India. Those who are committing these acts of vandalism and those others who are encouraging them from behind are guilty of jeopardizing the unity of India.

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018