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Hamid Ansari Saheb was accorded the most insipid farewell in Parliamentary history
Personal note: Being an old student of AMU Aligarh, this scribe feels blessed to belong to the same alma mater as Ansari Saheb; also as someone who passed his youth in the Middle East, closely observing Ambassador Ansari Saheb's smart diplomatic career there.

The retiring Vice-President of India, Janab Mohammad Hamid Ansari Saheb has authored the book 'Travelling Through Conflict: Essays on the Politics of West Asia' and also edited 'Iran Today: Twenty Five Years After the Islamic Revolution'.

Ansari was born on April 1, 1937 in Kolkata, West Bengal. His family hails from Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh. He did his master's degree in political science from Aligarh Muslim University. Hamid Ansari joined the Indian Foreign Service as a diplomat in 1961. In a diplomatic career spanning almost four decades, he served as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (1976-79), Afghanistan (1989-90), Iran (1990-92) and Saudi Arabia (1995-99). He also served as high commissioner to Australia from 1985 to 1989 and permanent representative to the United Nations from 1993 to 1995.

After retiring from foreign services, Ansari served in various academic positions. He was professor and vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University as well as visiting professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia. Hamid Ansari is known for his role in ensuring relief and compensation for the victims of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. He also pushed for a complete review of relief and rehabilitation efforts for all riot victims in India since 1984. Ansari Saheb won the 2007 vice-presidential elections by defeating his nearest rival, Najma Heptullah of the BJP, with a margin of 233 votes. He was re-elected for another term of five years in 2012, this time defeating the BJP nominee Jaswant Singh by 252 votes.

And now, he is going to the pavilion. However, in his parting shot, the outgoing Vice-President, on Wednesday, said that there is a feeling of unease and a sense of insecurity among the Muslims in the country, asserting the "ambience of acceptance" is now under threat. He made these remarks in the backdrop of incidents of intolerance and cow vigilantism and comments made by some saffron leaders regarding the minority community. He said that he had flagged the issue of intolerance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues. He also described as a "disturbing thought" that 'Indianness' of citizens was being questioned.

Asked in an interview to Karan Thapar on Rajya Sabha TV whether he shared his concerns with the prime minister, Ansari replied in the affirmative.

"Yes...yes. But what passes between the Vice-President and the Prime Minister in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged conversation," the Rajya Sabha Chairman said.

In the interview, Ansari referred to incidents of lynching and 'ghar wapsi' and killings of rationalists as a "breakdown of Indian values, breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought."

He said India is a plural society that for centuries, not for seventy years, has lived in a certain "ambience of acceptance" which is now under threat.

Reactions of his interview, as expected, are loud and clear from all the citadels of saffron hue including the new – Vice-President and Prime Minister. They are angry with Ansari for criticising the government for creating a deep sense of insecurity among the Muslims in the country. The parroted and one-sided social media is all agog and BJP supporters are calling names to the ex-Vice-President. It is being suggested that it was "churlish", "ungracious" on the part of Ansari to have criticised the government at the time of leaving office and that he was being even "ungrateful" to blame the country for the sense of fear felt by the Muslims in India under the present regime.

What distressed the rational thinkers of the country was the way Prime Minister made his response. The PM could have countered Ansari's criticism by stating that his government would ensure the life and property of the minorities, and that the lynching of Muslims by the cow vigilantes was unfortunate and that it should not be generalised. That would have been both honest and candid.

No, he won't do that like disowning the Gujarat tragedy. He is never known for finesse and sophistication in his addresses. The use of language has never been his forte and he, on predictable pattern, made the caustic observation that Ansari has spent most of his diplomatic career in West Asia and he lived and interacted in the atmosphere of the region and that his way of thinking was moulded by that ambience. And that in his post-diplomatic career he was vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and chairman of the Minorities Commission, which was indirectly an extension of his West Asian experience. It was not until he came to be the Vice-President and chairman of the Rajya Sabha, he did not have to deal with a different kind of world, which required that he had to constantly abide by the Constitution and run the House day in, day out in the light of the Constitution. Modi expressed his dislike for Ansari with typical words like "chhatpataahat". The dictionary meaning of the word is "tilmilaana" or "writhe".

"Ho sakta hai bheetar aapke andar bhi kuchh chhatpataahat rahi hogi, lekin shaayad aaj ke baad aap ko woh sankat nahin rahega, ek mukti ka anand bhi rahega aur jo aapki moolbhoot soch rahi hogi, uske anusaar aap ko kaarya karne ka, sochne ka, baat bataane ka avsar bhi milega (It is possible that there must have been a sense of uneasiness in you, but perhaps after today you would not face the dilemma, and you would experience the bliss of emancipation and you could not act and express yourself according to your original manner of thinking (which was moulded by your stint in West Asia)."

So, it was the most unpleasant, insipid and uneasy farewell function this country has ever witnessed in its Parliamentary history.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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