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Sringeri
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Leftist Clown Prince

Democracy by nature requires a ruling party and a credible opposition to keep the government in power on its toes. Necessarily, the opposition is expected to be up to date with goings-on within the government and with decisions being taken by it. It is expected to play a constructive role in nation-building by supporting the correct decisions of the government and opposing those that are not in favour of the country’s interests. The essence of democracy, then, is being a nationalist – being loyal to your country. Without this prerequisite, no party can ever hope to be taken seriously in politics.

It is no surprise, then, that the ruling BJP government has based its entire politics on nationalism. Its motto “Nation first, party next, self last” is not just an empty slogan. PM Narendra Modi is only a culmination of decades of selfless hard work of numerous karyakartas in building the party. Other than the communist parties, BJP is the only cadre-based party where it is possible for a party worker of humble origins like PM Modi to rise through the ranks and become a popular mass leader.

This is what the Congress used to be once upon a time. A genuine cadre-based party that churned out popular mass leaders in every state. The credit for transforming a glorified elitist chatbox run by foreigners into a mass based political party run by Indians goes mainly to the original Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It is a strange twist of fate that we are seeing the reverse transformation of this party from a mass-based party into a glorified elitist chatbox run by foreigners during our lifetime.

And at the forefront of this ongoing reverse transformation is the clown prince of Indian politics, Rahul Gandhi. BJP leaders are happy with Rahul at the helm of affairs in the Congress. He inspires no confidence in his rank and file. His political strategies are not only questionable, they are often downright dubious. I do not think even for a moment that a man who has access to the best talent in the country would not get the best advice. But who in their right mind advised him to speak of India as a “union of states constantly negotiating with each other”? It was a full toss waiting to be hit out of the ground. Who gave him the advice of offering support to noxious leftists and Islamists shouting slogans of “Bharat tere tukde honge Inshallah”, when he should have been out there cornering the government for permitting it and grabbing the condemnation space?

My considered opinion is, if the best political advice is available but he still chooses to say things that only harm his party, he is listening only to the advice he wants to listen to. In other words, he is saying what he really believes in rather than what his advisors are requesting him to. Hence it is important to analyze the ideology of Rahul Gandhi. This is independent of his intellectual capacity.

Ideological blinders

Ideology is hardly innate. It is picked up from the environment around us. Rahul grew up in an extremely “secular-liberal” environment. He is the descendant of Pandit Nehru, after all. Ideologically, he seems to have taken after his great-grandfather rather than his grandmother or father. Rajiv, for all his faults, was open to taking support from the RSS. Indeed, some authors have alleged that a secret deal on Ram Mandir at Ayodhya between Rajiv and RSS was close to being struck in which RSS promised to support his election if there was an assurance on the temple being built.

Erstwhile MP Banwarilal Purohit claimed that he was the intermediary for this conversation. Indira too was on board with Rajiv having better relations with RSS. Rajiv apparently gave permission for the immensely popular serial Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan to be aired on request of RSS leader Bhaurao Deoras. The pathological Congress hatred of RSS is therefore a relatively new phenomenon. Rahul seems to have picked up his hatred of the RSS from his mother and transformed it into a kind of obsession where he sees his battle as a fight unto death with RSS ideology. And what is this RSS ideology? Well, it’s in the name. “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”. In other words, nationalism.

How do you fight an organisation that thrives on and exists for nationalism? Logically, you have three options. One, try to “out-nationalist” them ie go full right. Two, oppose everything they do for the sake of opposition at the risk of allying with those opposing the very integrity of the nation ie go full left. And three, try to show that the RSS does fake nationalism and that Congress is the real nationalist. Innately, options 2 and 3 are self contradictory. You cannot align yourself with anti national forces and then claim to be a nationalist. But for some weird reason, the Congress thinks it can merge both these plans and win. Despite making the same mistake in 2019 and losing badly.

My view is that these two points are irreversibly fused inside the mind of the clown prince. He sees himself as the inheritor of the great legacy of the Indian National Congress and the illustrious Nehru-Gandhi clan. Hence he gives himself a carte blanche of nationalism even if his own beliefs are at odds with those of his predecessors. At the same time, he seems to have imbibed generous doses of leftist ideology from his teachers at St Stephen’s and Cambridge.

Congress has historically been a slightly left of center party, but Rahul looks hell-bent on taking the party far-left. He openly abuses corporates and private wealth creators. In his little mind, this is a battle between rich industrialists cornering all the wealth against the poor masses – a classic bourgeoisie vs proletariat interpretation of society. He never mentions the massive crony capitalism that brought PSU banks to ruin during the UPA years or his father’s relationship with Anderson and Quattrochi that caused the collapse of his government.

He constantly regurgitates the trope of adivasis being the original land owners whose lands are being taken away. By doing so, he is imposing the capture of lands of natives by European settlers on the Indian scenario where it simply does not hold water. No such conflict has ever been recorded in Indian history, and there is ample evidence to show that Indians across religion, castes and communities have pretty much the same genetic stock.

It needs to be said here that the biggest land grab of farmers and the poor in the history of India was done under the rule of Congress. Indira Gandhi amended the land acquisition law to take away the rights of farmers to compensation for their land if it was acquired by the government. Before her, Jawaharlal Nehru had already put land acquisition out of judicial review. For their scion to come out and make such statements is therefore resoundingly hypocritical. His own Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust was ordered to return farmers’ lands allegedly grabbed by the trust in Amethi.

Sub-nationalism

A most disturbing and sinister aspect of Rahul’s thought process is his distorted interpretation of India as a union of states negotiating with each other and the central government. He has earlier said India itself is a negotiation. Yes, the constitution does say India is a union of states, and at the time the constitution was written it was indeed formed to a great extent by the union of the princely states. But it certainly does not say that it is a union of separate states in negotiation with each other. India is one nation divided into states for administrative purposes. There is no “opt-out clause”. The current layout of states is not the same as it was when the constitution was written, nor does the same situation that existed then apply any more.

The concept of “composite nationalism” was first proposed by Bipin Chandra Pal, who stated that different religious groups should maintain their respective cultures while fighting for independence. Gandhiji expanded this idea to include caste subgroups. Post independence, collective nationalism has been turned on its head into sub nationalism, to keep people divided into various groups for political exploitation.

The pernicious idea of “sub nationalism” has been promoted by Congress for decades. Do a Google search and you will find dozens of articles explaining why it is a good idea and some are going to the extent of giving the credit of higher development level in some southern Indian states to this subnationalism. The British would be proud of the way the inheritors of their legacy have kept pushing the “divide and rule” policy to its limit.

Playing up regional ie “sub national” identities for decades in the name of competitive federalism has created new fault lines, the results of which are becoming increasingly obvious now. Under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the congress uses present day regional and linguistic identities of some states to stoke discontent and inflame sentiments against the central government and against Indians who have moved to those states from their native states. Sonia Gandhi too has stoked major controversy by making remarks on maintaining “Karnataka’s sovereignty”.

The latest in this series is the “indigenous Kannadiga” controversy – which is amusing, because the state of Karnataka took its present form on passage of the States Reorganisation Act in 1973. The idea of Karnataka as a Kannada-speaking area of distinctive culture is only about 120 years old, although the name itself is claimed to go back to the Vijayanagara empire which spanned a much larger geographical area than the present day state. The grand empire of course was not at all a linguistic state and Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada and Tamil were all spoken in different parts of the empire without such deliberately created conflicts.

Regional parties have done this since a very long time but for a large national party to incite people of one state against another is downright dangerous for the integrity of the nation. It is also bad political strategy. You may win a state by playing on petty regionalism but you will lose support of people in other states who are watching what is going on and seeing people of their state being ill-treated and forced to leave. Once you do this, no one is going to believe that you are here to open a “mohabbat ki dukaan”.

Minorities and caste divisions

Rahul Gandhi has also been promoting caste survey with an intent to bring in caste based economic decisions. The effort is designed to counter the Hindutva movement, which aims to unite Hindus and eliminate caste. The “sub national” agenda is meant to keep caste alive so that Hindus are perpetually divided, ostensibly for the safety of so-called “minorities”. Taking this one step further, the same bogey of Hindutva nationalism being a threat to minorities is raised constantly to keep one “minority” isolated from the mainstream. Never mind that the said “minority” has over 200 million followers in India alone.

The blame for the bloody partition of the country in 1947 is dumped on Hindu nationalists who in fact opposed partition then and continue to dream of “Akhand Bharat” even today. The fact that a referendum was held in which followers of this “minority” religion across India voted overwhelmingly for partition and then indulged in unprecedented violence to force the division of India is covered up. Under the garb of secularism, the radicals of that religion are constantly being pandered to even after partition and we are seeing them become more and more belligerent as a result.

That is how reversal of the bill abolishing the abominable practice of Triple Talaq becomes an election promise. That is why when the Hindu Code Bill is passed, no effort is made to pass bills for this “minority” and efforts at rectifying this by bringing in Uniform Civil Code applicable to all Indians across castes, communities and religions are opposed. That is why article 370 giving “special status” to a disturbed minority majority area is opposed. Cattle protection was put in the constitution by the constituent assembly, but despite knowing Hindus’ abhorrence towards cow slaughter, Congress and Left parties have held beef parties and slaughtered cows in public only to make political statements.

Nationalist and reformist Muslims have often received derogatory titles of “sarkari Musalmaan” from pliable media persons of this “secular liberal/progressive” ideology. By doing so. these alleged progressives are indirectly saying that a true Muslim must hold those radical views and reform is an assault on their beliefs. It would therefore be fair to say that the Congress not only hates Hindu nationalism but also hates Muslim nationalism.

The BJP strives to unite disparate groups of people for creation of a stronger national identity. It constantly appeals to Muslims to join the mainstream, and fully supports nationalist Muslims. It keeps calling out the threat from Islamist radicals of course, and this helps it politically to consolidate the Hindu vote. If this Hindu vote consolidation has to be countered, the Islamist radicals need to be isolated and eliminated and the moderates mainstreamed by all parties, but unfortunately the Congress and INDI Alliance keep doing exactly the opposite.

Disrespect of Hindu beliefs

The Congress leadership also stayed away from the Pran pratishtha of the much awaited Ram Mandir at janmsthaan Ayodhya, for which the average Hindu has waited almost five hundred years. Conveniently overlooking Rajiv Gandhi’s role, the Congress spokesperson called it a “50-year BJP-RSS political project”. If making derogatory references about the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya isn’t the self goal of the century in a country that is almost 80% Hindu and adores Bhagwan Ram, I wonder what is. The tsunami of emotions felt by Hindus on the return of their beloved Bhagwan to his birthplace is completely lost on the crown prince as he continues his rants. A viral video from one of his rally speeches goes like this: “Say Jai Shri Ram, say Bharat Mata ki Jai while Adani Ambani loot you, Priyanka Chopra dances, you enjoy and you starve to death”. Try to make sense of that if you can. There is an irony in this too, because the poor spent a much higher percentage of their income on food during the UPA years than they did during the Modi decade.

Capturing the Far-Left Space

Having a larger national identity does not mean having to renounce one’s cultural identity or practices. Opposing the creation of a larger national identity of India has become the hallmark of Congress politics under Rahul and Sonia Gandhi who are obsessed with their own distorted “idea of India”. As an Indian citizen, it is very disturbing to see the decidedly sinister approach of progressive fragmentation of Indian society in the name of caste, religion, region, state and language being taken by the Congress. As the party keeps moving rapidly towards the far left, it has ceded the massive centre and centre-left space which it once occupied to the BJP. Consequently it is being increasingly marginalised in Indian politics. Not only is it forced to contest only 255 Lok Sabha seats due to compulsions resulting from the INDI Alliance, we will see Priyanka, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi voting for an AAP candidate in Lok Sabha 2024 elections. The Congress is now incapable of putting up a fight on its own even in Delhi, where it ruled the roost just a decade earlier. In an occasional state where the party in power has piled up substantial anti incumbency and there is a decent state leadership, as was the case in Karnataka and Telangana, the congress does win. But the days when congress was the fulcrum around which Indian politics revolved are long gone.

Failure to introspect

One would expect the party to introspect the causes of its downfall and course correct. Instead, we are seeing them doubling down on their secularism and sub nationalism narratives. Leader after mass leader is quitting the party and moving on, but Rahul is not willing to budge. His mental battle with RSS doesn’t seem to end and he continues to publicly abuse Adani, Ambani and Aishwarya Rai . The level of delusion is astounding. It makes me look forward to the end of the freak show that is the Congress party today. We do need to have a credible alternative to the BJP at the center. For that to happen, the Congress must either die or give up its adversarial approach to nationalism by abandoning the dangerous policies of their demented leftist clown prince.

(The article was published on Amitsurg.com on March 03, 2024 and has been reproduced here)

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Dr. Amit Thadani
Dr. Amit Thadani
MBBS MS FMAS, Practising surgeon, musician, social activist, amateur photographer. Consulting General & Laparoscopic Surgeon Director, Niramaya Hospital, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai Consultant, Sushrut Hospital & Research Center, Mumbai Consultant, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Mumbai

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