Rajdeep Sardesai is a punching bag who almost everybody makes abundant use of. The Right, Left, Congress, Islamists – everybody gets to take a swing at Sardesai. Of course, most of the embarrassment caused to Rajdeep comes from the ‘right wing’, but his ability to infuriate just about anybody in India is unparalleled. At the core of Sardesai’s journalism is the undying want of asking stupid questions over and over again. Furthermore, the man cleverly frames his questions to create a pre-facto narrative; which means the person responding to the question will have to unconsciously admit that there is a problem existing, even if there is none. And his habit of doing so has once again resulted in him being lambasted openly.
At the India Today Conclave, Rajdeep Sardesai was at the receiving end of an unforgiving assault at the hands of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan. Sardesai asked Khan how he saw his identity as an Indian Muslim and what it meant for him to be an Indian Muslim. Arif Mohammad Khan’s takedown of the journalist was almost instant.
The Kerala Governor said, “We are celebrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. Our independence did not come for free. It was accompanied by the partition of the country, a bloody partition of the country. There was a lot of bad blood and violence between the communities then…I think the partition happened because of this imaginary Muslim question, because of this question over majority and minority.”
He added, “It is not only our Constitution that gives equal rights to people, but more than that our cultural heritage, the Indian civilisation, has no concept of discrimination on the basis of the religion, therefore to link the two, I find it preposterous.”
Arif Mohammad Khan also remarked that even after 75 years of India’s independence, it is sad that the media was still harping on divisive discourse instead of discussing Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwas. He said, “The British never considered India as a nation. They always considered it as a conglomeration of communities. But this constitution considered citizens as the constituent unit of India. Where is the question of communities now? Come to my village and ask a Muslim about what is this Muslim question. He will be perplexed. Because he is facing the same problems as those faced by peasants belonging to other communities. Just because someone in Hyderabad said there exists a Muslim question, we have taken it seriously.”
Vikram Sampath’s Attack on Leftist Historians Steals the Show
Speaking alongside Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, historian and acclaimed author Vikram Sampath earned much adulation for very succinctly pointing out all that was wrong with Indian histography. Referring to the first brush an Indian has with the history of their country in textbooks, Sampath said it is presented almost in “third person” as if it is the history of some other nation.”To denigrate your past, to feel a constant sense of apologia, that’s been the bane of historiography because sadly, even at the heights of the British Raj, you had space for nationalist historians – Jadunath Sarkar, Radha Kumud Mukherjee, RC Majumdar, VK Rajwade, Bhandarkar, CV Vaidya.”
Sampath then said, “Sadly, post-Independence, the Congress party unwittingly gave away that space of historiography to the stranglehold of Marxist historians and in a discipline like this which thrives on the multiplicity of views, discussion, and debate. It has distorted history and created several fault lines.” Quoting American historian Will Durant, Sampath said the Islamic invasion of India was the “bloodiest chapter of human history”.
He added, “We labour under this false assumption that talking about the truth will upset contemporary social issues, but dare I say that the edifice of national integrity or social cohesion cannot stand on the shaky and false foundations of whitewashed history.”
Both the sessions were moderated by Rajdeep Sardesai, and he must have felt personally attacked since both Arif Mohammad Khan and Vikram Sampath spoke with such clarity on issues that Sardesai despises. How can Indian Muslims not feel a sense of insecurity under the Modi government, as propounded by Arif Mohammad Khan, Sardesai must be thinking. To top it all, Vikram Sampath really pulled the rug from right under Sardesai’s feet in the most elegant manner.