‘2015 most polarised year after Partition’

P. Chidambaram

Former Indian home minister P Chidambaram says 2015 most polarised year after Partition

P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram

The year 2015 was perhaps the most polarised in India’s history after Partition in 1947, former finance minister P.Chidambaram said.

“The year did not end with the narrative of the economy. Instead, it ended with the narrative of intolerance, of confrontation, with more and more people apprehensive and insecure,” he said here at the launch of his latest book “Standing Guard — A Year in Opposition”.

“The year 2015 was perhaps the most polarised year of India’s history after Partition in 1947,” he said.

Declaring he was proud to be in opposition, which, however, did not mean “being an enemy of the government”, Chidamabaram cited Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar to say “a king without a critic will fail. A king must embrace his critic, listen to him and must fear the day when he has no critic”.

Listing the three occasions when India was polarised as the Partition, the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and 2015, the Congress leader wondered how the narrative had changed for the worse so quickly.

He said the debate around the Dadri killings should not be whether a man kept beef or mutton in his home but whether a mob has the right to lynch. Similarly, it was not whether Rohith Vemula was a Dalit or not, but how insensitive a university was in dealing with him, he added.

On the JNU row, he said: “The debate in JNU is whether a bunch of misguided youth allegedly raised anti-national slogans. The real debate is about what is a university…a university is not a monastery.”

Stressing that sobriety and humour must be brought back in discourse, and compassion in politics, Chidambaram called for building a large social platform that can be shared by liberal, secular, progressive people, and groups, NGOs, and so on.