Every underprivileged section of society deserves a special treatment as per the scheme of things of a welfare state. The makers of the Constitution of the country designed the sacred document along those lines as a temporary tool for uplifting the wronged castes and the gender perceived to have got a raw deal for the past several centuries, BR Ambedkar, Rajendra Prasad et al believed. But the temporariness of the provisions turning into entitlements by birthright is not the issue today. It is that there should always be some or the other burning issue keeping the nation talking — until the votes of the 2019 general elections are cast, as assessed early this year by Sirf News. The attempts to project the Narendra Modi dispensation as intolerant towards Muslims and Christians failed miserably in the first, more than three years of Modi rule. The detractors reckoned that the religious minorities were not voters of the BJP in any case and, hence, their calculations were going all awry. In the meantime, the party ruling at the Centre bettered its record of 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh by wooing a large section of the Scheduled Castes as well as OBCs, thanks to party president Amit Shah’s felicitation of Buddhist monks and lunches in Dalit households. Before that, the prime minister had gone a step ahead, bending over backwards, to invite the ire of his core constituency by condemning sundry Hindutva groups’ activism surrounding cow-protection. He couldn’t care less if beef had disappeared from Muslim plates. He spoke up because, in different parts of the country, Dalits who skin naturally dead bovines were being targeted. The impressed Dalits rewarded Modi-Shah back by dumping Mayawati altogether! These newly acquired friends of the formerly Brahmin-Bania party had to be alienated again, the ecosystem of the left surmised. Hence Jignesh Mevani in Gujarat. Hence Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra. Hence an unprecedented, tawdry press conference by four Supreme Court judges. Hence Bharat Bandh across the country. But why to drag the left into this? For, without the left, an Umar Khalid wouldn’t be part of a Dalit congregation. Their favourite journalists wouldn’t stand behind the judges during the press conference as if they were the organisers of the event. Kathua would otherwise not see a member of Indira Jaising’s Lawyers Collective take up the cudgels for the Bakerwal community of Jammu.

There were still miles to go before the left slept. Some 25 odd percentage of secured votes were not enough. To defeat Modi, half the population of the country needed to be disenchanted. For that, demagogues were not enough. The campaign would do well with a dash of glamour, the planners figured out. Ergo, Bollywood is pressed into service and, of all celebrities, even the one who was brazen or daft enough to let her husband name their son after a mass-rapist of the 14th century AD now sheds copious tears for the victim of Kathua. It is but absolutely fair and warranted that social messaging rides the shoulders of brand ambassadors. However, when the sympathy and concern is reserved for a community, the bewailing reminds onlookers of the proverbial crocodile. When a particular party is targeted with brickbats, the tinsel town’s façade of being apolitical crashes down. The problem with the left is that it is no longer as sharp as it used to be when the communists helped “Goongi Gudiya” Indira Gandhi fight “the Syndicate” in the late 1960s and captured the Indian education system in return. This time around, they entrusted the task with arguably the most intellectually challenged section of society: the Hindi film industry. If Hindi and regional language media telling a Kathua story different from that of their English counterpart were not enough to damage the narrative already, now some bourgeois social media operators have come up with illustrations of the trident of Lord Shiva, with its middle prong sheathed in a condom. Cartoonists in mainstream media are making a mockery of the Ramayana. The message is unambiguous: Hindus are kidnappers; Hindus are rapists.

Every self-respecting Indian must stand up to this vilification jihad. It’s not about Modi or the BJP — embarrassed now to own up their Hindutva-flag-bearing legacy. It’s also about the audacity of the breast-beating brigade to thumb their nose at Section 23 of POCSO, Section 228A and Section 376 A – E of the IPC by naming a victim of rape. A formidable political force with international reach is up to demean and defame the oldest, most accommodating and assimilating of civilisations. What for? To ensure they get back a government of their choice. A few cretins in the ruling party would inadvertently serve them their kind of government on a platter. If comments such as “Ram-zaade versus Har**zade” and “Hindus must proliferate” were not enough earlier during Modi’s tenure, now there is this buffoon who declares that 2019 would be a fight between Bhagavan and Allah! This swing between extreme positions of Modi’s inhibition and Surendra Singh’s crassness has been the bane of the so-called right wing of India. Mercifully, now, much before the right had a Surendra Singh, the left boasted of a Srijata Bandyopadhyay. And Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has found a match in Durga Malathi whose crudity pulled the mask down from the Bengali poet’s allegory. To the utter chagrin of the communists, the discourse they had so painstakingly built will take an about-turn from here. But remember, this was never about the concern for a girl. Tomorrow there will be some noise over something else. The way it happened before every State election in the past four years, the decibels will rise to a crescendo until the last vote is cast in 2019.