By Amulya Ganguli
Unlike Ramnath Kovind, who was a model governor before he became the president since he hardly spoke a word out of turn when in the Patna Raj Bhavan, Tathagata Roy has been one of the most voluble holders of the gubernatorial office.
More than all the other governors who have been elevated to the post because of their association with the ruling dispensation, as is the custom in India, Roy, who is the governor of Tripura, has been holding forth freely on whatever catches his fancy.
Moreover, in doing so, he adheres unerringly to the party line which is the BJP’s, and is sometimes even a little more extremist, although as the occupant of a constitutional position, he is expected to be neutral.
To overcome this difficulty, he claims to speak as a Hindu even if it can be asked whether a governor can wear his religious affiliation on his sleeve. After all, none other than the prime minister took umbrage over former vice-president Hamid Ansari’s last interview in which he referred to the prevailing insecurity among Muslims. It was possible that Ansari was speaking as an ordinary citizen who had noted the fear and unease among Muslims. But Narendra Modi chose to see it in communal terms.
Since Ansari’s reading of the situation did not tally with the government’s, Modi virtually welcomed his departure and said in a sarcastic vein that the outgoing vice-president would no longer be bound by any formal constraints. “You can now follow your basic ideology”, he told the retiring vice-president with a notable lack of grace at a time of saying farewell.
Roy, however, does not appear to be bothered about any constraints because of his position and has been unabashedly following his “basic ideology”. He was freely speaking his mind, therefore, as when he advised the police to keep a watch on those who attend Yakub Memon’s funeral since they were bound to be either real or potential terrorists.
The governor’s concern for keeping a watch on jehadis is understandable because he apparently believes in his hero, Jan Sangh leader Shyama Prasad Mookerjee’s belief, as expressed in the latter’s diary in 1946, which Roy quoted with approbation, that the Hindu-Muslim problem won’t be solved without a civil war. “So much like Lincoln!”, Roy concluded.
Or Sadhvi Rithambara, who said in an incendiary cassette during the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation: “Khoon kharaba hona hai toh ek bar ho jane do”. (If there has to be bloodshed, let it happen once and for all).
Given this dire prognosis, it is not surprising that Roy once urged his fellow Bengalis to “chuck” their “secular and politically correct values and polarize”. Otherwise, they faced annihilation or conversion, he feared, unless the Hindus of Bengal fight like those of Gujarat as in 2002.
It is not known whether the governor gives similar advice to the people of Tripura, but given his anti-Muslim tirades, it is open to question whether he is a fit person to hold a high constitutional position.
That no other party in India would have given him the post except the BJP, which undoubtedly shares his views even if it is less forthright in public at present, is obvious. But his continuance in the present position can only bring shame and disgrace to the governor’s office.
This is all the more so when he said that the bodies of Islamic terrorists should be wrapped in pigskins and buried face downwards in pig excreta, adding “no chance of Houris” as a result of such abominable treatment of the dead. Roy clearly lets his imagination run riot when talking of the Internal Enemies, as identified by his guru, M.S. Golwalkar.
Roy’s latest is his belief that the judiciary might ban cremations after the ban on crackers during Diwali. In view of his disgraceful track record, one can expect more such venomous outpourings from His Excellency.
What these comments do reveal, however, is the real face of the Hindutva Gestapo, which the BJP generally tries to keep under wraps lest they scare away the few non-communal voters who still support the party because of a belief in Modi’s promise of development. Roy, from this standpoint, is an asset to the “anti-Hindu, anti-national, sickulars”.
But why is he so different from the other governors who also have a BJP background but generally choose to remain silent. Is it because he has been allotted a small and relatively unimportant state in a far corner of the country and not a major one in the heartland or near it? Does he regard this as a failure on the part of the Sangh Parivar to recognize his talent for vituperation? Or is he trying to impress the powers that be by spewing saffron venom?
Since he comes from a state where the BJP has little influence, Roy probably feels the need to establish his Hindutva credentials by being even more virulent than a saffronite from, say, North or West India. As the saying goes, naya Musalman zyada gosht khata hai (a new Muslim eats a lot of meat). (IPA Service)