Another battle of narratives has broken out in the continued trend of post-truth politics in India. This time it is about the anti-Muslim hate and violence spread by Hindu supremacists in various parts of India and Prime Minister Modi’s deafening silence and tacit approval to it. (For the larger context, you could read my recent piece on Global Voices where I did an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the situation of Muslim persecution systematically done by BJP-RSS machinery in their attempt to fulfil the Hindu Rashtra / Hindutva project.)

On April 27, over 100 former bureaucrats constituting a group called ‘Constitutional Conduct Group’ (CCG) wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the recent cases of anti-Muslim hate and violence and requested him to call for an end to the ‘politics of hate’. “We appeal to your conscience, taking heart from your promise of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas. It is our fond hope that in this year of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, rising above partisan considerations, you will call for an end to the politics of hate that governments under your party’s control are so assiduously practicing,” the letter said.

Former national security advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon, ex-foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, former home secretary GK Pillai, former lieutenant governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, and former PM Manmohan Singh’s principal secretary TKA Nair were among the 108 signatories to the letter.

Soon after, on April 30, another group called ‘Concerned Citizens’ consisting of 197 members including eight former judges, 97 ex-civil servants and 92 ex-armed forces personnel wrote another letter attacking the previous group.

Ex-chief justice of Sikkim High Court, Permod Kohli, ex-foreign secretaries Kanwal Sibal and Shashank, former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi and former J&K DGP SP Vaid are some of the notable members of the latter group who wrote, “We do not believe that the open letter to the PM by the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) had sincere motivations.”

Without taking the trouble of questioning the facts of the former letter the latter group straight away claimed that it was politically motivated. “This (CCG’s letter) is a way for them to release their frustration that public opinion remains solidly behind Prime Minister Modi as recent state elections have shown,” they claimed.

Typical to post-truth narratives the Modi supporters also resorted to whataboutery claiming that the CCG remained silent on the incidents of violence against “peaceful processions during Ram Navami, Hanuman Jayanti.” While there is enough evidence in public domain including police reports which suggest that those processions were not peaceful and communal violence were deliberately stoked, pointing a finger at them is merely an attempt to digress from the growing calls for violence against Muslims by Hindu religious leaders and BJP government’s inaction and inefficiency in nabbing them.  

An art of post-truth narrative is to claim that to be false which is absolutely apparent and needs no proof at all. For example, the latter group claimed that the former group are people with vested interests who want to keep the narrative alive of “minority persecution, majoritarianism and Hindu nationalism under the present government.” It is ironic to claim that one would have to try to keep these narratives alive when these are blatant reality in India and public sphere is already flooded with reports, opinions and analysis on these aspects in India.

Previously, such battle of narratives have played out between:

  1. 49 Filmmakers and 62 Filmmakers when the former expressed concerns over the growing cases of mob lynching and hate crimes, in July 2019.
  2. 108 economists and social scientists and 131 Chartered Accountants when the former expressed concerns over ‘political interference’ in India’s statistical data regarding GDP numbers provided by the government, in March 2019.
  3. 66 former Civil Servants and 81 Civil Servants when the former wrote a letter to President Kovind slamming the functioning of Election Commission of India, and expressed grave concern over the erosion of people’s confidence in the credibility and the fairness of the institution, in April 2019.

These are just some of the cases, but the list is long. In each of these cases the cacophony of narratives and counter narratives makes it impossible for the common citizen to understand which group is telling the truth. She simply choses to believe the narrative she already wants to believe according to her political ideology.

On this blog I track India’s post-truth politics, particularly when post-truth becomes a part of government’s own policies. If you like what you read please subscribe to my blog. Read my previous post on Post-Truth politics in India. Read, what is post-truth in Hindi.

Update: 14 May 2022

An Op Ed on The Hindu newspaper by Nilmadhav Mohanty has taken up the issue of civil servants dancing to the tune of their political masters in the context of this letter war which I wrote about from post-truth perspectives. Apart from this, I’ve not come across anybody else talking about the role of civil servants.

The Hindu Op Ed: