This is an article from OUTLOOK INDIA written by Mallika Sarabhai.
I was asked to write about whether it was a daunting experience for me, an independent, to contest against you, a mighty prime ministerial candidate. I choose to write a letter to you instead. By the time you read this, the election results will be out. You will either have lost or won. Either way, what I have to say to you will stand.
I am a post-Independence Indian. I was brought up to value and treasure my unique Indianness, to value our Constitution, which gives equal rights to all Indians, irrespective of belief, culture, practice or language. I learnt to revel in the differences that made us a rainbow country. We are a salad-like melange of cultures and not a soup where all variations get reduced to a homogeneous pulp—this, to me, is our greatest strength.
Instead of the hunger, thirst and soul-chilling deprivations that our people still suffer, you talk of swords and trishuls. Instead of the lynching of Dalits and the rape of thousands of women and girls, you speak of building temples and destroying mosques. Instead of propagating the Hindu thought of vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is my family), you split our family into religions and tell all “others” to get out or live as minions in their own country.
As a proud Hindu and a proud Indian, I feel vilified by you. You have reduced the great Sanatana philosophy to a Taliban-style Hindutva. As an Indian, you have tried to reduce my identity to a single factor—Hindu or not. You let your goons, saffron-clad terror units wielding lathis and worse, terrorise us and live above the laws of this country. And above all, you claim that the rath yatra, the starting point of all terrorism in this country and the fountainhead of blood-spilling in recent years, is your greatest achievement.
Every Monday, throughout the campaign, I asked you some questions. Neither you nor your public relations people nor the hip netizens on your team acknowledged or answered them. So let me list some of them again:
1 What efforts have you made towards opportunities for education and livelihood generation in the rural areas of Gandhinagar constituency?
2 Have you used your funds under the MPLAD scheme to benefit the deprived and underprivileged in your constituency?
3 What has the BJP done to make available affordable housing to the citizens of Gandhinagar constituency in the last two decades?
4 Several lakh depositors lost their savings in the cooperative bank scams of 2003. At least three BJP candidates who contested the election this year were involved in the scams. What have you done for the depositors?
5 How would you ensure that particular communities are not victimised with the anti-terror laws that you are proposing?
6 Did the money accepted by your party’s then president Bangaru Laxman come from a Swiss bank account, or was it swadeshi black money?
7 Some 35,000 families live in Ramapir No Tekro, where there are 10 toilets each for men and women, which open at 8 am and close at 6 pm. But as they are ragpickers, they go to work at 4 am. Are they, and some nine lakh similar citizens in your constituency, who lack drinking water, roads and social security, partners in your Vibrant Gujarat?
No, Mr Advani, I am not daunted by you. I may have lost this election, but I will continue to work for the disadvantaged and dispossessed, and to ensure that their voice shall be silenced no more.
(The writer is a dancer and social activist who contested from Gandhinagar.)