Nowadays Narottam Mishra, home minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government, is hogging the limelight for stoking controversies. Projecting himself as a protector of Hindu religion and culture is a well-crafted strategy to please his party's ideological patron — the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Mishra knows very well that unless he takes Hindutva politics to the fore, he may not prove himself as ‘CM material’ as and when his party chooses to look beyond Chauhan .
Hindutva in the ‘heart’ of India
By SUBHASH CHANDRA YADAV
The Hindutva-based politics in the country is having a sway. After the Modi and Yogi brand of politics, the Opposition leaders like Arvind Kejriwal and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have honked upon showing their love for Hinduism by devising different means. But what has caught the attention of people for the past few weeks is the hardcore Hindutva and decisive attitude of the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra.
He is the most notable politician today in the central state of India for his aggression towards those who he thinks have outraged the Hindu religion or the Indian culture. He was a subject of headlines across national and local media after he had issued an ultimatum to famous designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee for an objectionable advertisement of a designer ‘mangalsutra’ to remove the advertisement altogether or face the action from the state.
The said advertisement of Mukherjee and a previous advertisement from the popular household brand – Dabur – had faced the anger of the masses on the social media for tempering erroneously with the native culture or adding vulgarity to it.
Just about a week ago, Mishra issued a 24-hour ultimatum to Mukherjee over the advertisement where ‘objectionable or obscene’ portrayal of the mangalsutra, which is an essential ornament in the Hindu culture across the length and breadth of India, was made. The advertisement portrayed a woman wearing a low-neckline dress and posing solo. In another, the woman is in an intimate position with a man. As soon as Mukherjee had shared the pictures, it created a controversy as social media users wasted no time in terming it against Hindu culture. Mishra had warned, “The police force will be sent for the action."
The Home Minister was touring Datia when he came to know about the objectionable advertisement. He held, "Mangalsutra is a jewellery of supreme importance for us. People have a faith that the yellow part of mangalsutra implies Goddess Parvati and the black part God Shiva. It actually protects the woman and the husband. This advertisement is highly objectionable."
The impact of the ultimatum was such that Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s company had removed the entire promotional and advertising material from the internet and other places. The brand also issued a statement apologising for ‘offending a section of society.’
Narottam Mishra had a similar stint with Dabur India where Mishra had issued a warning to the entity for its Karva Chauth television advertisement for showing homosexuality attached with Karva Chauth. In the ad, a lesbian couple was shown celebrating Karva Chauth with each other.
Mishra immediately asked the state Director General of Police (DGP) to review the Dabur advertisement and ask the manufacturer to withdraw it. But that was never required as by then the civil society had already criticised the company to the hilt which took a toll on its goodwill. Dabur had already apologised and pulled down the ad.
The impact of Narottam Mishra’s activism and outburst of the civil society has been such that other ads that may have been objectionable were immediately withdrawn by other brands. For example, clothing brands Manyavar and FabIndia too had to roll back their campaigns after facing the ire of pro-Hindutva critics. During the shooting of the web series 'Ashram 3' in Bhopal, Bajrang Dal workers assaulted director Prakash Jha. They also smeared ink on his face. Mishra wasted no time giving support to the Bajrang Dal workers and held that the web series targeted Hinduism.
Similarly, in Indore where a bangle-seller, Tasleem Ali, was assaulted by an angry mob for changing his identity, Mishra defended the four assaulters. The Home Minister alleged that one of the men protesting the attack had links with Pakistan.
About a year ago, he ordered legal action against a web series called ‘A Suitable Boy’ for showing a kissing scene in a temple.
In the month of January this year when stones were pelted on a rally of BJP’s Yuva Morcha and a communal clash took place in Ujjain, Narottam Mishra held, “The homes from where the stones were being thrown will be demolished.” He was referring to a demolition drive by the district administration. Thereafter, the MP government mulled to bring an anti-conversion bill in the assembly. Mishra was again on the forefront to defend the bill by saying, “Any love that leads to jihad, offends our sentiments, and makes our daughters suffer, we will oppose it.”
Now, Mishra has announced that filmmakers or web-series makers will need to get their scripts cleared by the district administration in MP in case there are objectionable scenes that hurt the sentiments of any religion.
Lifting the veil
The Congress, which is the Opposition party in the state of Madhya Pradesh, cried that the communal agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are at play. Party’s Narendra Saluja says that the leaders in the MP BJP are actually in competition with each other for the sake of fame and also to be in the newspapers." Saluja maintains that the RSS wants to increase its fold in the country and wants to arouse the Hindutva feeling in a hardcore manner, hence, Narottam Mishra is taking such ‘bigoted’ stands.
It has been learnt that though Mishra has all of a sudden made to the headlines of the national media, many in his own party and in his own department do not concur with him. For example, the DGP of his department had rejected his statement over the Indore bangle seller attack.
Mishra’s hardcore Hindutva has no takes in his own party unit in Madhya Pradesh. Sources in the party say that Mishra has lust for more power and he is looking to head a government in MP in future. They say that he is fancying his chances of becoming the head of the government if the BJP leadership chooses to look beyond Shivraj Singh Chauhan. They also say that this is the prime reason that Mishra’s Hindutva benevolence is not supported by others of his party in media or social media.
Analysts also depict that since Mishra doesn’t have an RSS background, he thinks that unless he takes Hindutva politics to the fore, he may not be given a chance. As of now, no senior BJP leader who has come from the RSS has seconded Mishra in his new hardcore Hindutva avatar. The civil society and the intelligentsia has been critical of Mishra. They say that Mishra should concentrate more on the real issues of governance. They also add that in the kind of politics displayed by Mishra, human rights are an immediate casualty.
They also say that Narottam Mishra has always been a troubleshooter and balanced politician; just like Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Mishra too is now influenced by Yogi Adityanath’s style of politics that amalgamates Hindutva with governance that gives a far-reaching effect. Madhya Pradesh is just next door from Uttar Pradesh. If one sees, the one would find that even the Karnataka Government in the south is mulling to bring an anti-conversion law just as Yogi decided one.