No leader has had such a posthumous presence in cartoons as Gandhiji. He routinely appears on his birth and death anniversary as a periodic audit of our day-to-day politics.
In between, when things go terribly wrong, the cartoonist brings him in as a benchmark for what is right. This is especially so when events that threaten social values are taking place: the demolition of the Babri Masjid, any breakdown of democracy such as during the Emergency, during riots, and, lately, whenever the sedition law is used. Gandhiji called Section 124-A “the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code”. The act remains as current as its most distinguished victim, sentenced under the law in 1922.
Gandhiji is the cartoonist’s early warning system. When you see him often in cartoons, it is a sign that something is going terribly wrong in our country.
This article appeared in the print edition with the headline ‘When the Centre Cannot Hold’
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