In his last interview before demitting the office of India’s vice-president, Hamid Ansari has said that Muslims in the country were experiencing “a feeling of unease”.
“A sense of insecurity is creeping in” as a result of the dominant mood created by some and the resultant intolerance and vigilantism, he added. Ansari also said he shared the view of many that intolerance was growing.
In hard-hitting remarks during an interview to Rajya Sabha TV, he ascribed the spate of vigilante violence, mob lynchings, beef bans and “Ghar Wapsi” campaigns to a “breakdown of Indian values” and to the “breakdown of the ability of the authorities” to enforce the law. “…and overall, the very fact that (the) Indianness of any citizen (is) being questioned is a disturbing thought,” Ansari said.
Asked in an interview why he thought Indian values were “suddenly” breaking down, Vice-President Hamid Ansari answered: “Because we are a plural society that for centuries, not for 70 years, has lived in a certain ambience of acceptance.”
He said this acceptance was “under threat”. “This propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it,” he told Rajya Sabha TV.
On Thursday, Ansari demits an office that only S Radhakrishnan had occupied as long: 10 years.
Asked specifically about his speech on Sunday in which he spoke about a nationalism with cultural commitments at its core being perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism, and whether the remark was about the mood of the country in 2017, he replied: “Oh, absolutely.”
And he agreed he had felt a personal need to underline that this need to keep proving one’s patriotism, and the intolerance it made for, was unhealthy: “Yes. And I am not the only one in the country; a great many people feel the same way.”
Asked if he had shared these apprehensions with the PM or the government, he replied: “Yes… But what passes between the Vice-President and the PM in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged information.”