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New BJP's New India & Nehru || Midweek Matters 27

16-09-2021published_dt 2021-09-16T06:02:48.937Z16-09-2021 11:32:48 IST
Updated On 16-09-2021 13:07:33 ISTmodified_dt 2021-09-16T07:37:33.363ZUpdated On 16-09-20212021-09-16T06:02:48.937Z16-09-2021 2021-09-16T06:02:48.937Z - 2021-09-16T07:37:33.363Z - 16-09-2021

Hello and Welcome

To Midweek Matters.

 

Let’s not miss the unmistakable signs of the unfolding of New India. We have a colourful sound and light show in Jallianwala Bagh turning the Memorial into a theme park with murals and shiny flooring. A Muslim bangle vendor is thrashed. Another one selling Dosas in a dhabha named after a Hindu God is roughed up and his premises vandalised. Another one is beaten and forced to chant Jai Sriram. A rampant mob marches on the streets of our national capital, shouting: Mulle Kaate Jaayenge, Jai Sriram Chillayenge; Hindustan mein rehana hoga, Jai sriram kehna hoga. A Yati Maharaj cautions the Hindus to beware of Muslim electricians, door to door salesmen, delivery persons, lest they seduce Hindu housewives. He also, says that women in politics, including those in the ruling BJP, are rakhails, concubines, of male leaders. An all india services officer instructs his men to break the heads of agitating farmers. The state's CM defends him saying that he just used wrong language, but it is necessary to be strict. An Adivasi man dies from injuries after he was tied to a truck and dragged on the road. As the country is processing these rapidly happening events, an apex funding body, Indian Council for Historical Research, omits Jawaharlal Nehru from its poster to mark the 75th Anniversary of India's Independence - Azadi ka Amritmahotsav. The poster on the landing page of its portal has Gandhiji, Babu Rajendra Prasad, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, BR Ambedkar, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Veer Savarkar, and Bhagat Singh.

Today I want to talk about the extraordinary act of omission of Jawaharlal Nehru from the Amritmahotsav poster by ICHR and point out it’s pettiness. I would contrast this brazen attempt by the funding body and its minders with the assessment of Nehru by his colleagues, and those the architects of New India claim to draw inspiration from. It is important to see what the ICHR has done in the context of the seemingly sporadic and unconnected incidents of violence against and intimidation of small helpless persons by the Hindutva zealots. For, what the academic funding institution under the new dispensation has attempted to do in the domain of history and what is being done on the streets by its ideological foot soldiers are integral parts of one single political project, called New India.

One doesn’t have to be an admirer of Jawaharlal Nehru or agree with his ideas to acknowledge his extraordinary contribution to our nation's struggle for freedom. Acknowledging his contribution does not in any way take away the contribution of any of his contemporaries and colleagues. None of his colleagues and contemporaries has ever tried to belittle Nehru. They might not have agreed with him all the time, nor he with them. Even those who were much younger to him and those who had a completely divergent vision for india from his have not said a word to cast aspersions on his commitment to the nation.

Please bear with me while I quote at length from what two of his illustrious contemporaries wrote about him. On the occasion of Nehru's 60th birthday in November 1949, a volume titled Nehru Abhinandan Granth was brought out. The editorial board consisted of, among others, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Purushottam Das Tandon, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and KM Munshi. For some reason the volume is not easily available nor is it widely known. What is remarkable about the writings in the volume is the absence of any tone of sycophancy in them. People like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Babu Rajendra Prasad wrote candid pieces about what they thought of him. They were forthright, yet graceful, in their assessment of Nehru. The stature of each one of them was as tall as that of his. Their contribution, as mighty as his. And yet, they ungrudgingly admired him and recognised his primacy. They did not feel that acknowledging his greatness would in any way diminish them.  They were secure. Politically and psychologically.

 

 

However, they did not mince words in pointing out his impatience, his tendency to throw temper. They were not hesitant to mention the points of their disagreements or uneasiness with him. Please take a look at the volume when you get time. You can get it in archive.org. That is archive.org. 

Let me start with what Sardar Patel said about Nehru. Patel wrote: “Jawaharlal and I have been fellow-members of the Congress, soldiers in the struggle for freedom, …devoted followers of the Great Master … co-sharers in the great and onerous burden of administration of this vast country."

“No one knows better than myself how much he has laboured for this country in the last two years of our difficult existence.”

In an important passage that is perhaps more relevant today than when he wrote it, he said: “As one older in years, it has been my privilege to tender advice to him on the manifold problems with which we have faced in both administrative and organisational fields. I have always found him willing to seek and ready to take it. Contrary to the impression created by some interested persons and eagerly accepted in credulous circles, we have worked together as lifelong friends and colleagues, adjusting ourselves to each other’s point of view as the occasion demanded, and valuing each other’s advice as only those who have confidence in each other can.” This actually is enough of a rap on the knuckles to those who are trying to pit Patel and Nehru against each other for their petty political project. Let me also read out to show you the way Patel described Nehru in the same piece of writing. 

According to him Nehru was “… the idol of the nation, the leader of the people, the Prime Minister of the country, and the hero of the masses, whose noble record and great achievements are an open book …." Patel was under no compulsion or obligation to describe Nehru in such glowing terms. He was not a man who was casual with his words. The present dispensation claims that Patel as its idol. But Patel was not for diminishing Nehru. 

Let me now bring to you what Babu Rajendra Prasad said. “The history of Bharat during the last thirty years or more is inextricably intertwined with the life and activity of Jawaharlal Nehru. He has been in the forefront of the struggle for freedom of the country…” 

“The Congress had adopted as its objective the attainment of Swaraj,” Rajen Babu wrote, and for that the first article of the Congress Constitution had to be amended. He said, “… there is no doubt that Jawaharlal Nehru was largely responsible for the amendment of the Congress Constitution.” He was referring to the Lahore Congress session of 1929 presided over by Nehru in which the Congress declared that Purna Swaraj was its goal. Rajendra Prasad was not for diminishing Nehru. 

And today our Council for Historical Research chooses to omit that Nehru from its poster!

There cannot be another person who disagreed more vehemently with Nehru than MS Golwalkar, the then Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Guru Golwalkar called Nehru a "Great Son of India." Golwalkar was not for diminishing Nehru. Evidently, ICHR of New India is unimpressed by the second Sarsanghchalak's assessment of Nehru. 

Let me also give you Atal Bihari Vajpayee's words on Nehru. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha after the demise of our first Prime Minister, Vajpayee said: "That vibrant personality, that attitude of taking even the opposition along, that refined gentlemanliness, that greatness we may not again see in the near future." Vajpayee said he spoke on his behalf as well as on behalf of his party.

Now, mark these following words: "In spite of a difference of opinion we have nothing but respect for his great ideals, his integrity, his love for the country and his indomitable courage." These words of the first BJP Prime Minister of India have no value for the New India's ICHR and it’s minders. In the same speech Vajpayee uttered something prescient. He said: "The Indian democracy he established, and of which he made a success is also faced with a doubtful future.

 

 

" He described the state of the nation this: "surya asth hogaya hai. Taronki chaya mein hamein apana marg doondna hai." Vajpayee was not for diminishing Nehru.

There were many critics of Nehru. During his lifetime and after. From the political right to the left. From Rajaji, to Jayaprakash Narain; from Balraj Madhok to Ram Manohar Lohia, SA Dange and PC Joshi. They were unsparing of Nehru on several policy issues. But none of them ever denied his place in history, his contribution to our freedom struggle and his role in the building of a modern India. None of them was for diminishing Nehru. 

Old India disagreed with Nehru. But it has not diminished him. It has not doctored him out of the annals of our freedom movement. New BJP's New India does. Paradoxically, the architects of this New India Project need Nehru, and do not need Nehru, at the same time. Nehru’s presence reminds them of their absence in the nation's freedom movement. It reminds them of their dwarfed political existence in the post independence India, for which, they think, he was largely responsible. Therefore Nehru should, therefore, be doctored out. Diminished. And position Patel as their surrogate and project him as the counterpoint to Nehru. But, it also needs Nehru. To blame him for their own ineptitude and inability. To blame him for the present ills of the country. To blame him as the reason for their failures. For their unforced errors. To portray him as a symbol of the Other. And to keep the hate filled 'Othering Process' alive. 

The diminishing and doctoring of Nehru by ICHR on the one hand and hate speech, vandalism and lynchings that we see happening every day on the other are thus an integral part of the New India of the New BJP. Not surprisingly, it’s poster boys are the likes of Yati Narasimhanand Saraswati Maharaj. Adi Shankara and Ramanuja do not inspire its architects. Understandably, the teachings of Kanchi Paramacharya and Sri Aurobindo have no use for the New India Project. But unfortunately, those who see themselves as good Hindus unwittingly sign up to Hindutva, the muscular and hateful impersonator of a sublime philosophy of peace, harmony and tolerance with a plurality of spiritual, devotional, ritual and social practices. That’s the sad aspect of the identity based New India Project.

 

That’s all for this week. Will be back again next week,

Wednesday, lunch time at 1:00 o’clock.

Stay safe and do take good care of yourselves and all your loved ones.

Until then then, Bye.

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