In an exclusive interview with Debarghya Banerjee of Jan Ki Baat, Founder & CEO of OPIndia news portal Rahul Roushan talks about his book ‘ Sanghi Who Never Went to A Sakha’ which has been receiving plaudits for its hard hitting stance on contemporary politics & why it’s also an autobiographical take for him.
Ques) Your new book, Mr. Roushan is creating waves across social circuits. Be it in Twiter or Youtube, you’ve have been giving so many Interviews off late. What was the inspiraton for this book?
Ans ) Well, to be honest, my own long pending desire, since my teenage, to write a book someday was the ‘inspiration’, but the motivation and a sense of purpose – where I felt I must pen down my thoughts and feelings – came from the fact that there were not many narratives from the ‘right’ side that captured the change in sociopolitical landscape of India since 2012. Various books have been writen about Narendra Modi winning 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections and they try to analyse what has been changing in the society, but they are all written from a point of view that looks upon this change in the society from a condescending or hostile approach.
Such narratives equate rise of Hindutva sentiments with fascism and intolerance and what not, and we can see that even today that is going on relentlessly. It’s obvious that such prejudicial pronouncements are bereft of any sense of airness and are actually senseless and irrational. It was important to provide the perspective from the other side. It was important to tell the people what changed. And since I was among the people who changed, I thought why not explain that change with help of my own story, and that’s how the idea of the book was born.
Ques) Why would you call this book a retelling of contemporary history or a commentary on sociology ?
Ans) It’s a mix of both, but i I must choose one, I would choose retelling of contemporary history.
Ques) Was the Preface to the book deliberately stretched?
Ans ) Yes. Nice that you noticed that. It wasn’t really a preface and that’s why it’s not even called so. I didn’t think a short ‘preface’ will be enough to explain to the readers what the book was about and why I was writing it, plus it was important to put a few disclaimers up front.
Ques) The letter that you wrote to Arundhat Roy based on her “STATEMENT TO SRINAGAR” became quite controversial. You also called her a Charlatan. Again there was quite a few of them trying to overlook the satrical aspect of it, wanted to impose what you write or what you create. Would you call the letter a rant & what was your reaction henceforth to the critcism?
Ans ) It was rant in response to her rant, but what I got in return were sermons and abuses. That sensitized me quite early that leftists are just as abusive and intolerant as the so-called ‘right-wingers’. It only meant that I was happy to continue identifying myself as a libertarian, and didn’t aspire to become a
left-liberal, which is world’s most often used oxymoron.
Ques) What is exactly that you mean when you use the term congressi hindu in your book considering For the longest time there’s been a debate around Connress’ anti hindu impedance by a large population in India ?
Ans) I wrote almost a full chapter to explain that! But in short, Congress was not an anti-Hindu party ever since its inception. On the contrary, it was called a Hindu party by likes of Jinnah and Ambedkar. Congress leaders like Madan Mohan Malviya or Bal Gangadhar Tilak would qualify as ‘Sanghis’ as per the woke nonsense that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s Congress has adopted. Congress’ character has changed over decades and by ‘Congressi Hindus’ I meant mostly people who voted for Congress since independence and how their thoughts and ideologies were shaped – mostly by Nehruvian
secularism that became the state policy after Independence. Such Hindus are not assertive of their identity and are not even aware of what makes core of that identity. ‘Sanghis’ are supposed to be aware and assertive.
Ques) Do ou think there’s a change in the way Satire is consumed? How’d you diferentate between satire and sarcasm?
Ans ) Sarcasm is one of the tools of satire. Everything that is sarcastic doesn’t necessarily have to be satirical, which attempts to pass a commentary on some set of ideas or state of affairs. Sarcasm is often sharp and stinging while satire can take other forms which are not so unsparing while conveying similar thoughts. We don’t have regular pop-satire in India at this time. At least I can’t put my finger on anything. People like Sagarika Ghose should just stop murdering satire – she writers some column in Times of India once in a while I think which she thinks is a satire column – while stand-up comedians are mostly repeating same trope as left-establishment will like them to do with zero attempts to capture the idiosyncrasies of the left. How can you allow people whitewashing Taliban a free run for example and not make them target of your humour?
Ques) Again coming back to your book you use the term casual Islamism. Do you think there’s a culture among literary circuits not to the question the premeditated established sorts of order in this regard?
Ans) Yes entirely. What I just said about stand-up comedians is an example of the same culture. There is no willingness to question or challenge the established narrative, the so-called left-liberal narrative, at all. And this narrative has been the dominant and ruling narrative for over a century. It’s funny that these people term themselves “anti-establishment” just because BJP is in power.
BJP or Hindutva are not establishment. I’ve explained that in a chapter in the book about what exactly is this establishment. The literary circuits, the journalists, the popular media (movies, performing arts, etc.) are all part of this establishment, which can be loosely termed as the Congress-Left- establishment. They are as much pro-establishment in that sense as they can be. They are scared of ‘speaking truth to the power’ to the real establishment, which is currently busy whitewashing Taliban. Forget Taliban, just see how they all surrendered to power and didn’t speak a word against what happened in West Bengal after assembly election results earlier this year. Women were raped, people were killed and hanged from trees, there was other mindless violence, but not one of these folks spoke truth to power or made Mamata Banerjee or TMC a target of their humour or satire.
Ques) Finally what would be the message to your readers?
Ans) First of all I’d say thanks a lot for picking it up or reading! I hope they liked it. I’d say they shouldn’t be a raid of labels and not allow bullies to silence you by terming you Sanghi, Bigot, Fascist, etc. Put across your views and assert your rights. Don’t be ashamed of your identity, because today the Left, rather the “woke”, is all set to paint some ethno-religious identities as “oppressors” and put you on backfoot just due to your identity. It’s the same old strategy of ‘winning arguments by labelling your opponents’ on steroids. Don’t let them win.