‘Democracy recession?’ Quoted by both Modi and Rahul, Bashir Badr again shows the way poetically

“Speak lies for lies still exude love”, said the poet Bashir Badr on Facebook, when sharing the news about PM Narendra Modi quoting his poetry to attack Congress in the Lok Sabha on February 7

Photo courtesy: Facebook/Bashir Badr
Photo courtesy: Facebook/Bashir Badr

Ashutosh Sharma

Poetry prevails where politics fails. Celebrated Urdu poet Dr Bashir Badr—who is turning 83 this February 15—testified to this once again on Friday. After almost six months, the octogenarian poet posted a couplet on his Facebook page along with a news report: “When Narendra Modi quoted Bashir Badr’s Urdu poetry to counter Congress and Mallikarjun Kharge in Lok Sabha.”

Considered a poet of anguished love and sovereign of modern Urdu Ghazals, Bashir Badr—who has been honoured with the fourth highest civilian award of the country, Padma Shree, besides several other State Academy awards, shared the following verse:

Sach, siyasat se adalat tak bohot masroof hai,

Jhooth bolo, jhooth mein ab bhi mohobbat hai bohot!

(Truth is too occupied from judiciary to politics,

Speak lies for lies still exude so much love).

Prime Minister Modi had quoted Badr to target Congress leader in the Lok Sabha. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had also quoted a couplet of the poet in his speech, cautioning the BJP against politics of hate. The couplet Kharge quoted goes as under:

Dushmani jam kar karo lekin ye gunjaish rahe,

jab kabhi hum dost ho jaaen to sharminda na hon !

(Keep pursuing bitter enmity but let there be a little scope,

That when we become friends, we must not feel ashamed).

Going by the political history, the couplet which was written by the poet after Partition is believed to have been quoted by the then President of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as well as when he and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed the Shimla Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan in July 1972.

While blasting Congress for Partition, dynasty politics and all the ills plaguing the country, Prime Minister Modi quoted another couplet of Bashir Badr in his scathing speech in the Lok Sabha:

Jee bohot chahta hai sach bolein,

kya karein hausla nahi hota!

(How I wish, I could speak the truth,

But what can I do without courage).

Many political commentators described Wednesday’s parliamentary debates as new low in Indian democracy. Though his remarks were greeted by the treasury benches with loud thumps on their desks, Prime Minister Modi’s reply to the debate on the motions of thanks to the President was widely viewed as exceedingly virulent.

Commenting on the widespread inconvenience caused to the people due to demonetisation, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had also quoted a famous couplet of Bashir Badr in December 2016 to attack the BJP-led NDA government:

Log toot jaate hain ek ghar banane mein,

Tum taras nahi khaate bastiyan jalane mein!

(People go broke while getting one home constructed,

You don’t feel qualms about setting ablaze entire localities).

The poet had written these lines after his house was burnt down and looted by goons during communal violence in Meerut. Having lost everything in that traumatic incident except for his incorrigible faith in humanity, he left Meerut and went into seclusion for several years, before settling in Bhopal.

Born as Syed Muhammad Bashir on February 15, 1935 at Ayodhya, the poet was educated at Aligarh Muslim University and eventually worked as a lecturer in the same varsity. Hailed as a pioneer of Modern Urdu Ghazal, he has authored more than seven collections of poetry books.

Jagjit Singh, who rendered many ghazals of Bashir Badr, in one of his interviews appreciated his poetry for “simplicity and lucidity”. The singer and the poet joined forces many a time. Known for its soulful poetry and music, Tum To Nahi Ho, an album brought out by Jagjit in 2005 had all the eight ghazals penned by Bashir Badr. The opening ghazal in The Voice From Beyond, an album having the last few ghazals composed and sung by Jagjit, which was released posthumously in 2013, has also been written by the poet. The soulful ghazal can be heard below:

Incidentally, all the Urdu verses in Dedh Ishqiya produced by Vishal Bhardwaj were also taken from Bashir Badr's poetry. His famous couplets recited by Naseeruddin Shah and Vijay Raaz in the movie were:

Yahaan libaas ki qeemat hai aadmi ki nahin,

Mujhe gilass bade de sharaab kum kar de!

(Only clothes are valued here, not the person

Hand me a bigger glass, let there be lesser wine).

Bade shauq se mera ghar jala koi aanch tujhpe na aayegi

Ye zuban kisi ne kharid li ye qalam kisi ka ghulam hai!

(Burn down my house with much pleasure, you won’t face any flame,

This tongue has been purchased by someone, this pen is someone’s slave).

The signature verse of Bashir Badr, who redefined beauty of love and mystery of life in his poetry, goes as under:

Ujale apni yadon ke hamare saath rahne do,

Na jaane kis gali mein zindagi ki shaam ho jaae!

(Let the light of your memories stay with me,

Who knows in which street the dusk of life shall set in).

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