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SoniaFIR – Subramanian Swamy’s Complaint against Sonia Gandhi

Many people have been asking about my stand on @Swamy39 or Subramanian Swamy. Thought it more useful to share my thoughts publicly than explain all to everyone who asked.

I had been hearing some vague noises about Sonia FIR – mostly among the Hindutva crowd, and ignored them till curiosity got the better of me. I was shocked. Delighted.

@Swamy39 had gone and filed a complaint against Sonia Gandhi for discrimination against Hindus over the proposed Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, 2011. I had read it in brief, but hesitated to comment since I don’t have a law background and lack the patience to study them for understanding a document (unless I have motivation – like all my learning). But I disagreed in principle, for the same reasons I disagree with reservations – I think it is a bad idea. You can’t remove something by making it a premise for your logic. That’s like Sheikh Chilli cutting the branch he is  sitting on. That way lies futility and illogic.

So far, Subramaniyan Swamy had struck me as something of  a Hindutva crazy – I’ll be blunt here. I know he is president of Janata Party, but that doesn’t hold much currency in terms of making him immune to my assessment.  I have nothing against Hinduism, but I think religious nationalism is ugly. It doesn’t help that the vast numbers of supporters I have met have followed religion or specific leaders more than making a statement of own ethics. They have voiced no disagreement of any magnitude with the publicized stands and proceeded to argue anything not falling in line. I don’t respect that. Though I had not had any interactions with Swamy himself.

But anyway, his article in DNA rubbed me plain wrong. Stuff like:

“Declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus”

This doesn’t work for me. I short out here. I don’t know what happens in the article past this line, because I have dismissed the speaker, closed the tab and gone elsewhere. Educating is one thing and insisting on a thought is another.

I am also a strong proponent about getting rid of religion from public life completely, including such demands or their opposite assurances. Or whatever. Any religion is discriminatory against me in public, seeing as how I am atheist :p . And what do you “teach” in Hinduism anyway? The epics are as good as literature, and the thoughts and even scriptures are so  varied, what do you teach and standardize? Is that even fair to Hinduism itself? And why at all must a state get into all this. There are better ways of creating a unifying factor. Try media. It is totally messed up. Tidied, it can lead to excellent social messages in a far more palatable way. Anyway, that is a different situation totally from now.

He has a reputation for being outrageous, which is totally fine. Just yesterday, I was praising Raj Thackeray – even while criticizing the methods he uses. Outrageous, I can live with. Heck, I identify better with it.

However, there are a few things I appreciate about Subramanian Swamy or @swamy39 as he is on Twitter. For one, in a crowd that seems to thrive on calling the Congress and Sonia names (abuse included) he put his money where his mouth is – with the 2g Scam, other ways too and now this. In my eyes, it isn’t a matter of whether he is wrong or right. We have courts precisely for that reason. My adding my judgment to the mess – particularly without studying and independently verifying them (for which I lack resources) would – as any reader here knows – go against my style of operating. Read my support page for my ideas on forming opinions based on another’s thoughts. Read that page anyway for a better thinking life.

However, it is not required for me to call his claims real or fake. The good I see happening with this complaint is multi-pronged:

  1. It follows a legal way of addressing a perceived wrong rather than media lynchings and hate mongering.
  2. It will lead to an understanding and conclusion of the subject rather than festering polarization and ugliness.
  3. It is an action of “speaking up and acting to best ability when harm to the country is spotted” something I and this blog advocate unhesitatingly and hold in the highest regard in terms of service to the country.
  4. It is a far more efficient action of fixing problems, because it intervenes at a sensitive point in our system, where least change will bring most results.

Also, the complaint deconstructs the bill and meticulously challenges careless mistakes with research, logic and references. All good qualities in my eyes. A must read to understand the practical dynamics of religion and diagnosing problems. Regardless of whether the FIR happens – and I hope it does, read this to learn to see communal dynamics.

So, curiosity led me to find out more about the man. I saw the website of his party – the janata party. I like that focus (notice the name of the blog :p ), but the best thing about that website? This page. It is the party profile, and it is specific and speaks of goals very clearly. More importantly, while acknowledging the past, there is little attempt to hide any warts – another thing I respect highly – I hold this as a symptom of a scientific mind – where process trumps person. There is no attempt to look good by criticizing another. All this is always good where it happens and it is agonizingly rare in India. So, plus marks.

The final thing I liked about the page is that it talks of purpose and goals rather than dwelling on projecting interpretations and justifications of things happened. This makes it easy to read and understand if this is worth aligning with, without making any paralyzing guarantees.

I also read his interview in rediff where he says “See, there is a general impression amongst all crooks that if you offer Swamy money, he will take the money and still continue, so no use giving him money!” Hahaha…. this I identify with. Reminds me of when I said if I got paid to be a mouthpiece, my first article would be an apology, second would be a declaration of intent and third would be a clear cut, well thought out stand that I am willing to use my authority to defend. I would publish them all together and get fired 😀

I saw numerous videos where he makes a lot of sense and speaks verifiable and specific things. This works for me. The clearer the ideas shared, the more systematic, with visible logic, the more I trust. Frankly, with his attitudes toward religion and governance sounding fairly sensitive to the dynamics rather than being bogged by any single religion, it is still unfathomable where that DNA article came from. I must read it again with the new context.

Here, watch this.

Maybe I need to read the article and understand again. No, I won’t be posting a link unless I change my mind and happen to agree with it.

However, the cincher for me happened with one quote. Added a quote to my collection

Democracy runs on public debate ~ @Swamy39

This is it – the golden thought. This one will probably do time as the tagline of the blog when I get in the mood for change.

So here I stand. His complaint has my support, though the jury is still out on if he as a person has my support. I don’t support people that easily and my support anyway means no “loyalty”, since unlike most Indians, I am still free to criticize anyone, including those I support.

Coming to the end of the story, the complaint Subramanian Swamy has filed against Sonia has still to be registered as an FIR, but it is up on rediff and most certainly worth a look because it offers a nuanced insight into communal dynamics.