New Delhi: Hamid Ansari, a renowned author, academic and career diplomat, is demitting office of Vice President of India. It is tragic that he was not elevated to the post of President. Usually, it is thought that a person who is appointed Vice President of the country will eventually be elevated to the post of President, but that was not to be in his case. Before the presidential election when Pranab Mukherjee was anointed the President, there were strong rumors that Ansari may be elevated to the post, but alas, it was not to be.
Hamid Ansari is one of those few people who mince no words and don’t seem to be reticent. He speaks and speaks well. And before he demitted office, he gave a strongly worded interview expressing his displeasure with the current situation, when Indian tradition of communal harmony is giving way to extremism.
Many people will claim that the Vice President never really spoke of those issues in the past and spoke about them only when he was not elevated. But this is not really the case.
Ansari has a responsibility to fulfill and as vice President he couldn’t behave partially. But this never stopped Ansari from speaking his mind, though in very subtle manner. He has spoken about the Indian ethos of communal harmony and tolerance in the past, and his latest interview is no exception, except that it is strong worded. Now as the Vice President is no longer bound by his office, he can be a little straight forward and blunt.
While speaking to Karan Thapar in an interview of Rajya Sabha TV, the two time vice president said, “Over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought…From all I hear from different quarters, the country. I heard the same thing in Bengaluru, I have heard from other parts of the country, I hear more about in north India. There is a feeling of unease, a sense of insecurity is creeping in.”
When Karan Thapar asked him, if Muslims were beginning to feel they are not wanted, he said: “I would not go that far. (But) there is a sense of insecurity.”
He went on to add, “Do not create for one self or one’s fellow beings an imaginary situation which is centuries back, when things were very different. I mean the whole idea was that what are the challenges today… The challenges today are challenges of development, what are the requirements for development; you keep up with the times, educate yourself, and compete…”
To a question as to how he looked at the situation in the country in the context of cow vigilante attacks, lynchings, beef ban, love jihad and ‘ghar wapsi’ campaigns, Ansari said the idea that India has been a plural society for centuries and not for 70 years was under threat. Asked about the fact that even the Supreme Court has ruled that the National Anthem should be played before film screenings and some other courts giving similar directions, Ansari said: “The courts are a part of society. So what the courts tend to say sometimes is reflective of the prevailing atmosphere. I call that a sense of insecurity… This propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it.”
When asked if, as Vice President, he had shared his concerns with the Prime Minister or with the government, he said: “Yes.. yes. But what passes between the Vice President and the Prime Minister in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged conversation.” To a question about their response and whether he was satisfied, he said: “Well, there is always an explanation and there is always a reason. Now it is a matter of judgement, whether you accept the explanation, you accept the reasoning and its rationale.”