Sharad Pawar is a man of few words, Smriti Irani a woman with a vast vocabulary.

Last week, when the HRD minister delivered a remarkable “performance” in a Parliament debate that captured the imagination of the country, she was congratulated by one and all (including this columnist).

नब्बे के दशक में देश की राजनीति धर्मनिरपेक्षता बनाम छद्म धर्मनिरपेक्षता में विभाजित थी ; अब एक और अधिक घातक विभाजन ‘राष्ट्रवादी’ अौर ‘राष्ट्र-विरोधी’ ताकतों के आधार पर करने की कोशिश की जा रही है। जब सोशल मीडिया पर पहली बार मुझ पर ‘राष्ट्र-विरोधी’ होने का आरोप लगाया गया तो मुझे गुस्सा आ गया था। अब उसके कुछ वर्ष बाद मौजूदा कर्कश राजनीतिक विमर्श में जब उदारतापूर्वक देशभक्ति के प्रमाण-पत्र बांटे जा रहे हैं, तो मैंने चीखकर यह कहना चाहा : गर्व से कहो हम देशद्रोही हैं। मैं बताता हूं कि क्यों।

In the 1990s, the country’s polity was divided by secular versus pseudo secular faultlines; now, another divide, and frankly far more insidious, is sought to be created between ‘national’ and ‘anti-national’ forces.

When I was first accused of being ‘anti-national’ on social media, I was angry. Now, a few years later, the current coarse political discourse, where desh bhakti certificates are being liberally distributed, tempts me to scream: garv se kaho hum desh-drohi hai (proud to be ‘anti-national’). Let me tell you why.

A few years ago, we invited a public vote to decide on the greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi for the History tv channel. The winner, by some distance, was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The architect of the Indian constitution is that rare individual: ignored in life, venerated in death. Ironically, we see the opposite with Jawaharlal Nehru: hero-worshipped as India's first prime minister, now targeted years later.

CHAT WITH ME ON TWITTER

Books

The 2014 Indian general elections has been regarded as the most important elections in Indian history since 1977.
A parable on the limitations of vision and the dark side of love. This book presents a story of life's distorted perceptions
These are stories of ordinary people who are doing extraordinary work for our society and our nation.