New Delhi: Former finance and home minister P Chidambaram has taken a very grim view of the existing situation under the Narendra Modi government.
Speaking at the launch of his book 'Standing Guard — A Year in Opposition', Chidambaram said on Friday that India has witnessed most polarisation on three occasions since Independence in 1947 – the Partition, the Babri Masjid demolition and now.
The Indian Express quoted Chidambaram as saying, “How many of us realise how polarised the Indian society has become? Please talk to your Muslim friends, please talk to your Dalit friends. Please talk to people who have small farmholdings.”
The senior Congress leader said the poor and the marginalised were living amidst “great insecurity” and “great apprehension”.
“We are heading towards a deeply divided and polarised society. How did this happen in one year?” he asked.
Chidambaram rued that the Modi government, which came to power with a simple majority, had deviated from the path of development to one of division.
Chidambaram also spoke on the JNU row, and advised not to confuse between universities and monasteries.
“What do we understand by a university? The university is not a monastery. We are confusing between universities and monasteries. A university is a place, where I, as a student, at my age, has the right to be wrong,” he said
The former union minister said he was disappointed with the manner in which issues were being debated upon in the country.
“How are we framing debate in the country? Please reflect on the manner, the perverse manner in which debates are being framed."
“Look at how the debate is being framed today. The debate in Dadri was not whether the man had beef or buffalo meat or mutton in his house. That is how the debate is being framed. The real issue was whether the mob had any right to lynch a person. The debate in Hyderabad Central University is being framed as was he (Rohith Vemula) a Dalit or not a Dalit. The real debate is how an insensitive university drove a first-generation learner from an underprivileged family to commit a suicide. The debate in JNU is not whether a bunch of misguided youths allegedly raised some anti-national slogans. The debate is what is a university?”
Quoting poet Thiruvalluvar, Chidambaram had a word of advise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi (without naming him), “A king without a critic will fall even if he has no enemies. A king must embrace his critic. A king must listen to his critic. A king must welcome his critic.”