It was a rare long hop from Imran Khan, but one that exposed how far he has to travel in the political arena to come up with the equivalent of his in-dipping yorkers that had mesmerised fans across the cricketing world.
In fact he has delivered what few would have deemed possible ~ getting Asaduddin Owaisi and the BJP leadership to chant a common mantra for however brief a while that might have been.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan has miserably failed to understand, let alone appreciate, that the communal divide in India does not mean any welcoming with open arms uninvited criticism from across the Radcliffe Line. His boast of teaching the Modi-government how minorities should be treated has backfired.
The sharp response confirms that Indian Muslims are well aware of what flows from Islamabad ~ laws on blasphemy etc ~ and that beyond the Kashmir Valley that nation has little credibility here. Not even four wars and a prolonged proxy war have impacted Indian political and emotional integrity.
That is not a false projection of that much-misused term “patriotism”, but a living expression of reality that stands established ~ without anyone peeping across the western border to find confirmatory evidence.
By trying to exploit the concerns expressed by Naseeruddin Shah to fuel communal discord in India, Imran has displayed political shallowness ~ but not so shallow as not to swallow up the goodwill he appeared to have generated over Kartarpur.
That the Bollywood star was among the first to slam the Pakistan prime minister for over-stepping the line amplifies how much of a novice Imran remains. Even if, like Trump, Macron and maybe Modi too, seasoned conventional politicians are not reaping electoral rewards of late.
Yet it would be imprudent for the BJP leadership to interpret the advice to Imran to “butt out” as a sign of internal amity. The divide is steadily increasing, and with the religious card being flashed as the ace of trumps ahead of the upcoming polls the apprehensions of the minority communities are rising in consonance with election fever.
When so-called leaders justify cow vigilantism and say a cow’s life is worth much more than a human one, including that of a police officer, it testifies to how thin is the ice on which communal accord is skating.
Worse, when the home minister pontificates on a “tolerant” society he conveniently evades the query on equality in the social order. As if the minorities are vermin who must feel beholden to the majority for permitting them to inhale India’s oxygen.
The sustained, sinister degradation of Constitutional institutions are complemented by the silence of the BJP leadership on the outbursts of the no-longer “fringe elements”. Imran certainly misfired this time, but he is provided ammunition every time a BJP leader thunders that those dismayed at a deteriorating sectarian situation should “go to Pakistan”.