[Below is a response to the piece by Mr Pawan Verma of JD (U) published on TOI Blog on 6 January 2018 titled: BJP’s artful illusion: Actually the fringe reinforces the mainstream, and the mainstream nurtures the fringe January 6, 2018, 2:00 AM IST Pavan K Varma in TOI Edit Page | Edit Page, India | TOI. Available at:
Who is the real fringe Mr Verma?
Pavan Verma’s piece on BJP’s artful illusion makes an interesting reading. Though the disease afflicts all political parties, surprisingly Verma singles out his party’s ally – the BJP.
Let us take first three of the cases which Verma cites as examples to counter his argument.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, a first-time junior Modi minister, who comes from one of the most backward communities, for her ‘haramzade’ remarks in December 2014. She has already apologised and Modi too sought forgiveness from the House given her village background. The House which includes Verma’s political party (though with Laloo Yadav then) closed the matter thereafter. Interestingly, media reports mention that the Congress, Mayawati’s BSP and TMC were up in arms but there is no mention of Verma’s JDU. But Verma is unhappy that she was not asked to resign. Probably, Verma has not lived in rural UP and may not be conversant with the rural lingo. Consequently, he finds the particular word abominable.
The Sadhvi was quick to learn and has not embroiled herself in any controversy thereafter. Interestingly, Verma seems to be the fringe of JDU as his party disassociated when he castigated the Election Commission in mid-October 2017, for delaying Gujarat elections. But unlike Sadhvi, Verma didn’t learn and again in November 2017 he made a veiled attack on his own party Chief Nitish kumar. His fringe side was displayed yet again in December 2017 for the third time in a quarter when he criticised Modi on Pakistan remark!
Verma is appalled that Amu, BJP’s Harayana media coordinator, despite holding a ‘responsible’ position is a fringe. But does it mean being a JDU spokesperson is not a sufficiently responsible position given Verma’s fringe adventures as above?.
To prove his claim that fringe and mainstream in the BJP are identical, Verma gives example of Sangeet Som’s comments about Taj Mahal and BJP spokesperson Rao’s remarks that Moghul rule was barbaric. As per, Smith’s (1992, p 416) Oxford History of India, Aurangzeb destroyed Hindu temples and idols were ‘transferred to Agra and placed beneath the steps leading to the Nawab Begum Sahib’s mosque in order that they might ever be pressed under foot by the true believers’ . Second, Jizyah tax was imposed on Hindus. Third, Shivaji’s son Sambhaji was captured by Aurangzeb and ‘executed with horrid barbarity’ (p. 421). Are these three examples sufficiently barbaric? Verma’s darling Shahjahan is no exception either. Smith (1992 p. 377) writes ‘’the current descriptions of Shahjahan’s rule had a dark background of suffering and misery seldom exposed to view’. He gave orders ‘all temples that had begun should be cast down…. seventy-six temples had been destroyed in the district of Benares’ (p. 380).
Verma then cites the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ call of the VHP which is the oft cited and misused concept by Modi-haters for political ends. In Bunch of Thoughts Golwalkar elucidates that ‘”there are some who imagine that the concept of Hindu Nation is a challenge to the very existence of the Muslim and the Christian co-citizens and they will be thrown out and exterminated. Nothing could be more absurd or detrimental to our national sentiment. It is insult to our great and all-embracing cultural heritage.” He writes one can’t be a ‘Hindu at all who is intolerant of other’s faith’ (p 110).
Verma singles out the BJP for fringe-ness but are other parties free from this scourge?
Congress and the fringe
Will it be unreasonable to crown Digvijay Singh, a former Chief Minister, and AICC general secretary as the Maharaja of the Fringe Brigade? Out of his numerous fringe style statements, the classic was about Bin Laden’s funeral. Another congress veteran to vie for the title would be Mani Shankar Iyer, former Cabinet Minister, suspended by the party recently for his ‘fringe-ness’? and what about Kapil Sibal former Cabinet minister – a major headache for the congress. Another fringe veteran is Chidambaram, former Finance Minister. Congress distanced itself from his remarks on Kashmir. Former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s remarks on Hindu terror too embarrassed congress. Congress also distanced from Salaman Khurshid, a cabinet minister. Yet this battery of congress senior cabinet ministers is conveniently forgotten by Verma. Add to the list Sanjay Nirupam and Sandeep Dixit – again congress distanced itself. What about the ‘boti boti’ jibe by a congress lawmaker who was promoted to PCC chief? Also does Verma consider Sonia’s ‘maut ka saudagar’ barb for Modi is mainstreaming the fringe?
Other political parties and the fringe
TMC another major political party is no exception either. It has distanced itself from the remarks of its own fringe group members of parliament Dinesh Trivedi, Derek O’Brian, Tapas Pal, for example or Mayawati’s party slogan of ‘jute maro’ which she denied later?
As can be seen from the above, the fringe disease is all pervading. Yet Pawan Verma guns only for the BJP. Verma’s current blog itself is an example of his fringe-ness.
Incidentally, web search reveals that in the JDU, Verma stands out as the only fringe!
At least Sadhvi Jyoti – a graduate of the University of Hard Work (Modi’s terminology), was quick to learn the ropes.
But Verma’s fringe-ness continues despite his Stephens college background, a law degree and foreign service training!
What could be more amusing?? Thank you Pavan Verma for entertaining us!
(Milind Sathye is an Australian academic. The views expressed here are his personal views. Email: email@example.com).
 Smith, V. (1992) The Oxford History of India, Oxford University Press, 4th edition, Delhi.
 Ibid p 111.