The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), yet to recover from the crushing defeat in the Bihar assembly polls, was delivered yet another controversy, this time from down South, by its MP from Mysuru.
Pratap Simha responded in a rather distasteful remark to Infosys' co-founder Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy (NRN)'s "insecurity among minorities" comment a few days ago, providing yet another weapon to the party's energised opponents, who are smelling blood after remaining subdued for over 15 months.
Referring to Infosys' attrition rate, the journalist-turned-politician, as if asking NRN to mind his own business, told The Hindu, "Let him worry about his company. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is there to take care of the country."
At a time when the BJP is under attack for its intolerance, intransigence and arrogance, such an ill-timed remark by a lawmaker is not what the party needed. Further, his apparent attempt to endear himself to the local population by questioning the company's "commitment to the cause of Kannadigas" smacks of linguistic chauvinism.
The BJP's humiliating defeat in the Bihar assembly polls should lead to a serious introspection, make the party humble, accommodating and receptive to criticism, rather than display intolerance, which has become almost a synonym for the Modi government.
In a vibrant, chaotic democracy like India, national interest is not the exclusive preserve of politicians, not even the head of the government. Unlike NRN, even if a person does not have a standing in the society, he has the right to speak his mind, never mind if it is discomforting to politicians of different persuasions. This freedom of speech and expression flows from the Constitution of India and is not subservient to the diktat or ideology of the establishment of the day.
Simha and his ilk may be Modi loyalists, but they can't afford to be seen as stifling voices of dissent or being contemptuous of those who criticise the Modi government, at a time when the government is increasingly being seen as falling short on fulfilling promises.
At such times, people are free and in fact duty-bound to raise their voices and ask questions that affect the country.
Comments like "Prime Minister Narendra Modi is there to take care of the country" are unacceptable.
Modi is not the sole custodian of India's national interest.
(The author of this article is a senior journalist with IBT-India edition. This article reflects the writer's personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of IBTimes India.)