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For the Opposition and Liberals, the Tiranga Now Represents BJP

By: Sanbeer Singh Ranhotra

Last Updated: August 07, 2022, 10:18 IST

New Delhi | new de

In essence, the tricolour has also been ceded entirely to the BJP by India’s opposition and its supporters online, writes Sanbeer Singh Ranhotra. (Representative image/Reuters)

In essence, the tricolour has also been ceded entirely to the BJP by India’s opposition and its supporters online, writes Sanbeer Singh Ranhotra. (Representative image/Reuters)

Congress fell straight into a trap Prime Minister Modi laid for it. Its entire focus has shifted to Jawaharlal Nehru. Would it have been too much for Congress leaders to put up simply the tricolour as their display pictures?

The Tiranga symbolises India. We have been independent for 75 years now. That calls for celebration. This is not just any other Independence Day for India. This Independence Day, India will celebrate itself. It will celebrate its platinum journey as a free nation that has persevered for seven and a half decades and has only grown from strength to strength. India has faced wars, calamities, and conflicts and yet, it has emerged victorious on every single count. Challenges could not break India and its spirit. India has survived as a nation taking inspiration from its flag – the debonair tricolour.

This Independence Day, a lot of emphasis is being laid on the tricolour – and rightly so. There is nothing that unites Indians like the tricolour does. Even the national anthem, which is etched in the memory of every Indian – young and old alike – is sung after the tricolour is hoisted, under the flag’s protection. Our soldiers are wrapped in the tricolour after they lay their lives down for the country. Ask any soldier why they have no qualms in facing death for the country – they would all say that the pride of being shrouded in the Tiranga is what drives them.

In keeping with the spirit that binds Indians together, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ initiative, calling on every household in the country to display the tricolour from August 13 to August 15, in order to celebrate 75 years of our country’s independence. In last month’s Mann Ki Baat address, the Prime Minister also came up with a unique idea to celebrate this Independence Day a bit differently, while also showing the world the collective power and will of Indians. He requested every Indian connected with social media to place the tricolour as their display picture.

Note the keywords here. The Prime Minister of the country did not ‘direct’ citizens to put up the tricolour as their profile pictures. He did not ‘dictate’ them. He did not even ‘instruct’ Indians to follow what he says. He essentially requested every Indian to do so as a mass movement of sorts. The Prime Minister did it to bring Indians together, albeit for about two weeks. For many, that was too much to ask for.

Opposition’s Disregard for the Tricolour

In India’s opposition camp, an infantile yet devious movement is underway. The tricolour represents India and every citizen of the country irrespective of their caste, creed, faith, gender and political affiliation. For parties like the Congress, though, the tricolour does not seem to represent anything all by itself. The tricolour, alone, stands for pretty much nothing in the eyes of the party. This is perhaps why the Congress chose to include a potentially photoshopped picture of Jawaharlal Nehru on its social media handles. This picture, of Nehru holding the national flag is also what now adorns the profiles of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other senior Congress leaders.

While other opposition parties and their leaders have chosen not to participate in the campaign – which is absolutely fine – the Congress has launched a counter-campaign with Nehru being its focus, and not the tricolour. What does that tell you about how the Grand Old Party sees the tricolour?

To be fair, the Congress fell straight into a trap Prime Minister Modi laid for it. The Prime Minister, from past experience, seems to have known that the party will rather make a fool out of itself than participate in any of the initiatives spearheaded by him. The Congress is now in a peculiar position. Its entire focus in the run-up to Independence Day has shifted to Jawaharlal Nehru, not the tricolour. In fact, even Mahatma Gandhi has been sidelined by the party this time round. Would it have been too much for Congress leaders to put up simply the tricolour as their display pictures? Apparently, it would.

The Congress is not new to such PR disasters. Earlier, in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections, Rahul Gandhi’s incessant “Chowkidar Chor Hai” jibes were turned around by Prime Minister Modi, who embraced the ‘Chowkidar’ tag accorded to him. He asked Indians back then to refer to themselves as ‘Chowkidars’ as well, and hundreds of thousands of them did so on Twitter. The campaign became perhaps one of the most defining moments of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Back then too, the Congress had no comeback.

On Friday, the Congress chose to protest against price rise and inflation. Its leaders, dressed in black, came out on the streets of the national capital and protested to the best of their ability. For some strange reason, though, they chose to wear all-black outfits and protest on a rather significant day for the country – August 5. In 2019, on the same day, Article 370 was abrogated. In 2020, on the same day, the foundation of the Ram Mandir was laid in Ayodhya by the Prime Minister. August 5 has come to be considered a historic day for the country. The Congress chose this day to wear black outfits and protest on the streets of Delhi.

The Woke Lalaland

The Congress is not alone. Indian liberals too are pretty irked by the “DP change” culture that has taken over the country. Many of them are sympathetic to the Congress, of course. Liberals are accompanied by young and highly motivated ‘wokes’ in making a mockery out of the Prime Minister’s appeal – using their most potent weapon on Instagram: memes.

Creating memes is no crime. Joking about the government of the country, or for that matter any political party isn’t either. The idea being sent to the youth of India via memes, though, is that the government of the day is forcing the DP change campaign upon every Indian, and that not participating in it would somehow lead to social and political ostracization.

You don’t want to change your DP to the tricolour? No problem. Nobody is coming after you or your loved ones if you choose not to. Nobody will call you names for not displaying the tricolour on your social media profiles or even your homes. Nobody is going to file cases against you if you choose not to participate in the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

The least every Indian is expected to do, though, is not make a mockery out of a campaign in which innumerable citizens are wholeheartedly participating. In fact, those who are changing pictures are the ones being subjected to hate for toeing the “BJP’s line”. They are being shamed. In essence, the tricolour has also been ceded entirely to the BJP by India’s opposition and its supporters online.

The opposition is acting without strategy. All its actions are dictated by its hatred for one man alone. If that hatred consumes them to the extent that they start disregarding symbols of national pride – the tricolour for instance – so be it. They feel no guilt, and certainly no shame.

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first published:August 07, 2022, 10:15 IST
last updated:August 07, 2022, 10:18 IST