scorecardresearch
Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022
Premium

Tavleen Singh writes: The chink in Modi’s armour

Tavleen Singh writes: The Congress party has failed to compete with Modi on the nationalism front because his nationalism is more aggressive and targeted at proving that Jawaharlal Nehru and his heirs were not nationalists but colonial leftovers.

Modi portrays himself as the embodiment of a new India that he believes can only be created by removing all signs of colonialism and erasing the ‘failures’ of those 70 years of Independence when he was not in charge. (File Photo)

Something that Rahul Gandhi said last week has made me wonder if he has discovered the chink in Narendra Modi’s vaunted invincibility. When he made his speech at the start of the ‘padyatra’ last week, I expected that, as usual, he would be banging on about Modi’s ‘four rich friends’ and how the Prime Minister has shown only contempt for farmers and poor people. Then he said something that startled me into listening more carefully. Holding up the national flag he said that it represented all Indians and belonged to them all.

His next words as reported in this newspaper were, “India is not the imposition of one idea on its people. India is the history, the language, the culture of every single person.” Pay close attention to these words and you may notice, as I did, that pluralism is the one area in which Modi cannot begin to compete.

Also by Tavleen Singh |A padyatra to nowhere

Modi portrays himself as the embodiment of a new India that he believes can only be created by removing all signs of colonialism and erasing the ‘failures’ of those 70 years of Independence when he was not in charge. There were failures but there was one astonishing success, and it is called pluralism. The widening chink in Modi’s idea of India is the absence of pluralism. He can claim other successes in the past eight years, but he has failed to project himself as someone who truly understands that pluralism is the glue that has held India together through some very bad times. Not secularism, socialism, patriotism, or nationalism, but pluralism.

The Congress party has failed to compete with Modi on the nationalism front because his nationalism is more aggressive and targeted at proving that Jawaharlal Nehru and his heirs were not nationalists but colonial leftovers. Last week, when he unveiled the statue of Netaji under that canopy that was built for a British monarch, the BJP commentariat went to great lengths to prove that it was not Gandhi and Nehru who were the real heroes of our freedom movement but relatively unsung heroes like Subhash Chandra Bose. There is more than a modicum of truth in this. The role played by revolutionaries like Netaji was pushed down to a low place under the weight of Gandhi and Nehru. But to make Nehru into the villain of this story is wrong and unjust.

Subscriber Only Stories
UPSC Key- December 5, 2022: Why you should read ‘Iran’s morality police’ ...Premium
UPSC Essentials | Key terms of the past week with MCQsPremium
Amid Bengaluru gangrape investigation, lens on Rapido: how does the bike ...Premium
When Bhagat Singh got a pat from Bal Gangadhar TilakPremium

It was because of him that India was bequeathed the idea of pluralism. In a time when the caste system was so rigid that Brahmins could be ‘polluted’ by the shadow of someone who belonged to an untouchable caste, Nehru’s idea of pluralism was revolutionary. In a time when India had been broken up in the name of Islam, to assure Muslims who did not leave for Pakistan that they would be equal citizens was revolutionary. It was this pluralism that became the foundation stone of the Congress party’s idea of India.

Peter Ronald DeSouza writes | |Bharat Jodo Yatra: Reaching the journey

It is the great tragedy of our oldest political party that it has allowed itself to be reduced to a family firm. The process begun by Indira Gandhi in the ‘dark days’ of the Emergency, was taken forward by her daughter-in-law to so shameful a degree that the Prime Minister of India was treated as no more than a regent for her son. One of the lowest points in Manmohan Singh’s illustrious career was when he declared after winning the Congress party a second term in 2009 that he would give his job to Rahul any time he wanted it.

Why should it surprise anyone that Modi was seen by millions of Indians, including your columnist, as an infinitely better alternative? If Modi had not emerged as a prime ministerial candidate by 2013, there is not the smallest doubt in my mind that the BJP would have struggled to win a full majority. Like every other political party, it had been infected with the disease of hereditary democracy and most of its senior leaders were busy promoting their progeny, wives, and girlfriends, just like everyone else. Modi changed this, not completely, but enough for him to be able to use ‘parivarvaad’ as his political Brahmastra. He has understood that the Congress party cannot fight him on this front. And knows well that without the Congress there is no Opposition at the national level.

Advertisement

Last week I wrote in this column that the Bharat Jodo Padyatra was a futile exercise. That it was just another attempt to project the Dynasty’s heir as a credible political leader. It could still amount just to this because there has been almost no attempt by the Durbar that surrounds the Gandhi family to draw their attention to the total collapse of the party’s organisational infrastructure. But, if the ‘padyatra’ somehow becomes a way of convincing Indians that only the Congress party represents the pluralism that Indian democracy needs to survive, then it will have achieved more than any other attempt at revival or reinvention of the party of our freedom movement.

The sad truth is Sonia and her children have been so arrogantly certain of the ‘charisma’ of the family name that they have done little other than wait for Modi to fail. This failure is not imminent. As we saw last week, Modi has created an idea of India that has a new pantheon of heroes and a new narrative, but there is one essential piece missing. Pluralism.

First published on: 11-09-2022 at 03:53:20 am
Next Story

P Chidambaram writes: They love unemployment and inflation

Latest Comment
Post Comment
Read Comments
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
close