Mumbai: Celebrated but controversial screenwriter and poet Javed Akhtar had earlier earned himself brickbats when he put the Taliban rulers and the RSS and VHP in the same bracket. However, it seems, Akhtar known for his blatant criticism of Hindutva, has had a change of mind.
The Sholay co-writer in an opinion piece in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana, has praised Hindus as the most tolerant majority in the world. He added that it would not be fair to compare Talibanism with India as Indians are moderates by nature.
‘Hindus are the most decent and tolerant majority’ in the world. I have repeated this time and again and also emphasized that India can never become like Afghanistan because Indians by nature are not extremists. It is in their DNA to be moderate, to keep to the middle of the road,” Akhtar mentioned.
Incidentally, Akhtar’s swipe at Hindutva had not gone down well with the Shiv Sena which put up a stringent riposte to his opinion. So, eyebrows are bound to raise at Akhtar’s volte face and that too through Saamana.
Akhtar however defended the similarities he had recently drawn between Taliban and RSS-VHP. “As a matter of fact, there are a lot of similarities. While the Taliban is forming an Islamic government based on religion, the Hindu right-wing wants a Hindu Rashtra. The Taliban wants to curb women’s rights and put them on the margin, the Hindu right-wing has also made it clear that they don’t like the freedom of women and girls,” he wrote.
The noted lyricist eulogised Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and said, “not even the worst critics can accuse him of any discrimination or injustice.” He also expressed his dismay at the fact that Thackeray’s dispensation was labelled Talibani by a section of his detractors.
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member and Saamana’s Executive Editor Sanjay Raut played safe stating the Saamana publishes articles irrespective of whether it agrees to their line of thought or not.
But if we are to read between the lines, the Shiv Sena has done the perfect balancing act by letting Akhtar use its platform to hail Hindus but at the same time, subtly giving him the leverage to continue with his tirade against outfits owing allegiance to its friend-turned-political foe, the BJP which is helming the Central government – a message to the Congress and the NCP, its alliance partners in the state that the party’s extreme pro-Hindutva stand is now a thing of the past.