“The speech given by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi today in Parliament on Constitution has importance of a historical inscription, an important stately document. I have not heard in my life such a democratic, inclusive, liberal and polite speech in my life, at least in such an effective manner. He spoke without any bias, so transparently accepted contributions of public leaders who preceded him and the way he praised nation’s first Prime Minister’s democratic tolerance, honesty and argumentative maturity. Besides the way he gave his acceptance and support to the original preamble as also to later amendment, which included secular, socialist and talked about need for reservations, he transcended boundaries of ruling and opposition benches, will go a long way in establishing him as a unanimously accepted statesman with all its emotive connotations.”
These words are not from a Modi bhakt. This is the opening paragraph of a Facebook post by Uday Prakash, noted poet and writer who had recently hit the headlines for being the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award on 3 September, a move which sparked off the raging “intolerance” debate in the country.
Uday Prakash had returned his award three days after the killing of famous Vachna Sahitya scholar MM Kalburgi. What subsequently followed was award-wapsi charade with a political overtone – read a movement against the Modi government for rising intolerance during his 16-month regime at the Centre.
But see the irony of being Uday Prakash! If he was criticised and called names then (when he publicly returned his award) by Right wingers and hailed by liberals and Left wingers, today he is accused of being “sold out to Modi” and attacked by those who till the other day considered him a hero. The author, however, is keeping his cool and not getting carried away by either category of responses.
Has Uday Prakash changed sides by hailing Modi’s statesmanship? Not really. He says he writes and speaks what he thinks is correct and is not guided by any bias or motivated thoughts and opinions. Speaking to Firstpost, Prakash said he was not a political person.
“I am a writer and express through words what I feel. When I had returned Sahitya Academy award, I had not discussed about it with anyone. I was agitated because there was no reaction from the Sahitya Academy on Kalburgi’s killing. The least which the Sahitya Academy could do, something which is practiced in armed forces, that the chief and the institution give dignity and honour to the departed. They go and console the bereaved family and stand by them in their difficult moments.
“Sahitya Academy did nothing to console Kalburgi’s family or something that could posthumously honour him. But when I gave vent to my feelings I was criticised and targeted by sections of people. I had no idea that the whole thing would turn into a political debate.
“I am being targeted again when I expressed my feeling by writing on Facebook on Modi’s November 27 speech in Parliament. Art and literature should not be analysed from perspective of religion or politics. I genuinely felt Modi that day delivered a great speech. We live in an age, which is speech-centric and speeches define course of events”, he said.
The day Modi had delivered his speech Firstpost had noted that his speech was statesmanlike and had responded to the three accusations made by his political rivals and critics.
Uday Prakash says in his Facebook post he had said it before and would repeat it again that Modi has gone several steps ahead of maestro Atal Bihari Vajpayee in oratory. Despite some factual and funny mistakes on facts relating to history, time and place, he is by far the best orator prime minister that the country has seen. In one stroke he distanced himself from the partisan speeches given by Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. His speech is to respect the diversity and multiplicity of faiths and values that represent India.
Like several other political analysts and commentators, he too has his concern about longevity of spirit of the message which Modi tried to deliver – is it guided by compulsions of parliamentary number imbalance of GST or by the receding graph of BJP’s image due to irresponsible statements made by his party and Sangh Parivar leaders?
Modi surely has succeeded sending a message that he can stand tall as a statesman, leader of the country. It’s also time for him to show through his deeds that he means what he says. His government, party and ideological Parivar will have to internalise the messages that he gave while commemorating 125th birth anniversary BR Ambedkar.
There is thus a need to dispassionately see Uday Prakash’s passionate writing on the issue.