“I Take Back My Words,” Why Wait Till There Is An Outrage?

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 “A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.” Nupur Sharma’s Tweet came after her recent suspension from the party in the wake of her unsavoury remarks on Prophet Muhammad reminded me of the aforementioned saying. She is not a diplomat but held the position of a party spokesperson.

In a country where religious polarisation is getting deeper and deeper by the minute, is it acceptable that the spokesperson of a National Political Party, the currently ruling party, can go off the handle during a TV debate? The answer to that question needs to be clear in our hearts after introspection it shouldn’t come while wearing your heart on your sleeve.

Nupur Sharma Apology

Let’s pause and look at Sharma’s tweet, it says, “I have been attending TV debates for the past many days where our Mahadev was being insulted and disrespected continuously. It was mockingly being said that it is not Shivling [at Gyanvapi mosque] but a fountain. The Shivling was also being ridiculed by comparing it to roadside signs and poles in Delhi.”

“I could not tolerate the repeated insults made against Lord Shiva and I said some things in rage. I take back my words if they have hurt anyone’s religious sentiments,” Sharma said.  To me, she has only taken her words back but does that mean she is apologetic? Am I reading too much between the lines? I think there is a need for us to read between the lines when it concerns our political leaders now more than ever before.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said in a statement, “The BJP strongly denounces insults of any religious personalities of any religion. The BJP is also against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy.” But how can a person appointed as a spokesperson not be aware of the ideology of the party? 

Suggested Reading: Nupur Sharma: Lesser Known Facts And Past Controversies On Suspended BJP Member

This incident has grabbed attention around the globe and today BBC in an article spoke about how India’s internal matter has taken an international turn. Countries like Kuwait, Qatar, Iran and Saudi Arabia have called their Indian ambassadors to register their protest. The report further mentions how the incident has been the top story in several Arab nations. The governments there need to soothe anger among their people as hashtags criticising India have been trending in these countries. Is this finally going to be a wake-up call for us here in India? 

Even though provocative TV debates are not new to us but any social media user in India would confirm how rampant hate has become on these platforms. In such a scenario is it ok for any political leader to say “that they said things in rage” on national television? Will our political leaders ever take responsibility for what they say? Can international attention to domestic issues force those in power to take certain difficult decisions? Are we going to wake up from our slumber and take proactive measures to stop hate speeches rather than doing damage control after an outrage?

There is a popular Hindi saying teen cheez kabhi wapas nahi aati – Samay, Shabd aur avasar meaning you cannot take back three things namely time, your words and opportunity. This is some ancient wisdom which you like me were probably taught in school. So is it possible to take your words back especially when they have hurt someone’s feelings?

The views expressed are the author’s own.