‘The ads have stung the Parivar hard’
Reproduced below are some of the positive responses to the Combat ads from a wide cross section of people — from grassroots–level activists to bureaucrats, from liberals to Gandhians to communists, from secular–minded persons in the mass media to individuals from women’s organisations:
ŘA field report from Phulpur (U.P.) published by The Times of India, Delhi edition on September 25 read: "The folks at Communalism Combat can take satisfaction from the fact that at least one of their anti–BJP advertisements is having an impact on voters…A group of villagers in Karaudi outside Phulpur – the constituency Nehru won two times – gathered around Lal Yadav as he read the text of one such advertisement in Dainik Jagran (Dainik Jagran, a pro–BJP, pro–Hindutva daily is among the largest selling newspapers in U.P. and is published simultaneously from nearly a dozen cities — editors). George Fernandes’ August 1998 statement apprehending trouble in Kargil was printed in bold and his offer of ‘safe passage’ ridiculed. ‘And see’, said Yadav, pointing to the sponsor’s name. This is not some political party saying these things. Yeh to nirdali log hain (They are independent)’. "While the BJP may cry foul – the party alleges that the campaign is being covertly funded by the Congress – the ads have tapped into a vast bed of cynicism and anger over the way the Vajpayee government has handled and projected Kargil".
ŘActivists from Ahmedabad and Lucknow informed us that they had reproduced some of our advertisements as leaflets and distributed it among people in their localities. Navchetna, a youth group based in the capital converted many of the ads into leaflets and even did a mailing to conscientise persons on the actions and thoughts of the Hindu right.
ŘThe publisher of Meerut ka Samachar (Hindi), published from Meerut in U.P., telephoned us after the first three ads had been released to say that he found them so effective and potent that he had decided to publish them in his own paper free of cost.
ŘPraful Bidwai, a syndicated columnist, wrote the following in his column in the fortnightly magazine, Frontline (October 8, 1999): "(S)ocial activists, as distinct from political leaders, have voiced such fears and concerns and often warned the larger public of the Hindutva menace and associated politics. The latest example of such a civil society or non–governmental initiative is the public education campaign launched by Communalism Combat, a Mumbai–based magazine, in the form of a series of 10 newspaper advertisements. These make a scathing critique of the BJP’s claim to being ‘normal’, tolerant or democratic. The campaign systematically demolishes a number of myths about Vajpayee, the RSS and the BJP. It cites unimpeachable facts — mostly their own quotes — to back its contentions. It ruthlessly exposes the BJP to be a party of bigots, male supremacists, rabid casteists… The BJP emerges as a party that is so cynical in pursuing power that it can communalise the armed forces.
"The Combat campaign has been effective at least partly because it fights the BJP on the favourable terrain of the mainstream national media, with its predilection (for the most part) for soft Hindutva, and its fear of attacking the BJP… Few would deny that the campaign has bite…The Combat advertisements have stung the Parivar hard".