In the last one year or so, no one, certainly not the Opposition, has worked up the government quite like this movement of writers and academics. While several members and supporters of the government made crass statements against them, Anupam Kher, with his right background—a body of both respectable and commercial cultural work—arrogated to himself the role of the Indian right’s respectable face. But for all his respectability, the flawed basis of his argument emerged when he held his ‘March for India’. It takes a certain level of irony to organise a demonstration to silence a protest about intolerance, to say that there is tolerance and yet go ahead and claim no one is allowed to criticise or fault the government.
In the demonstration of tolerance, there was chest- thumping, name-calling, and slogans of beating ‘fraud’ historians and ‘presstitues’ by participants. Kher has painted those who have spoken against the government as conspirators of some grand scheme to defame the country. And yet, hypocritically, when Shah Rukh Khan said something not very different, he claims the superstar is a national icon. Of course, it is easier to go against less powerful writers.