It is a cold Monday afternoon as I sit down to write the column. Earlier in the day, a propagandist took more than 20 people hostage in a cafeteria at Sydney’s Martin Place. And, back home in India, the Rajya Sabha witnessed an adjournment drama put up by the opposition, which cited “secular” concerns.
What is, perhaps, questionable is that while the media reported that dark clouds loomed over the authenticity of the claims of the complainant(s) in the Agra conversion row, the opposition seemed hell bent on stalling the functioning of Parliament over the issue.
To quell their “grave” and “explosive” concerns, as described by a former minister from the opposition camp, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu expressed the government’s willingness to pass an anti-conversion law in the states as well as the Centre.
Expectedly, the opposition was stumped by the proposition. It adopted diversionary tactics by creating a din with its chorus of incomprehensible demands. If it is conversion that they have a problem with, they should rightfully agree to a debate and support the anti-conversion law.
As their intentions remain cloaked in between adjournments, notably, what the opposition’s myopic vision has missed is the cancerous spread of the ISIS propaganda in our own backyard. The fact that a social media account spreading hate and terror-laced violent ideologies to thousands of followers and interacting with suspected militants the world over was being operated by an Indian citizen should not only have attracted front page headlines but also the opposition’s concern.
Not surprisingly, this wasn’t as grave or explosive an issue for the opposition to raise for discussion in Parliament. The government and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on the other hand, have been the most responsive, going out and about in doing their duties and investigating probable terror links and local recruitment made by the ISIS.
This is not the first time, however, that the opposition has remained silent. Post-Burdwan blast, when reports came out that a Trinamool Congress leader’s property, which was previously used as election office by the party, was being used by suspected Indian Mujahideen men and that explosives were being stored there to carry out anti-national activities, not as much as a whimper of protest was heard from the TMC’s friends in the opposition.
Is it a deliberate attempt by the opposition parties to collectively negate serious concerns over the spread of terrorist activities and terrorism itself and raise their voice in opposition over relatively less serious issues not involving matters of life and death? Or, is it that the opposition is merely raising non-issues to corner the party in power as none of them could win the people’s trust and vote? Or, more seriously, are the opposition parties trying to drive home the point that one community is better than the other?
How else would one explain the opposition’s silence on reports of regular attacks on the BJP leaders from Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. No one knows what their stand truly is on the conversion issue or the Burdwan blast case.
Secularism is important to our nation, but how far the opposition would go with their “selective secularism” agenda is for all to see. Unfortunately, a misplaced sense of priority prevails within the opposition.