At the outset, I would like to submit that I am greatly impressed rather than being fascinated by the method of Marxism, for it gives me the key to understanding the world and the people around. I also happen to cherish the values of the communist movement and the contribution communists have made in the cause of our national freedom. I can perceive many faults in communists of the present as well as bygone years. I do see that Stalin erred as also Mao, then Dange, Ranadive and T. Nagi Reddy, all of them; with the added caveat that this assessment does not negate their valuable contribution to the cause of communism.
With my self-declared affinity to communism, when I am free to pick faults in the actions of communists around the world, who are persons of high integrity and mettle; I am equally free to see the darker side of persons inhabiting entirely different hue zones in the political spectrum opposed to communism. Evidently it should not strike as surprising to anyone when I find fault with Gandhi and Nehru, not to speak of Modi.
If all this hair-splitting is construed as an attempt to wriggle out of the responsibilities of the present generation in accentuating the perils of this denouement, so be it. I can always take refuge in Marx, who had said ‘Doubt Everything’….
I am also an ordinary human being, subjected to the vicissitudes of life and events, past and present, and the massive ill winds blowing around me. In keeping with the spirit of the times, I feel some iron ought to have entered my soul.
I have nothing to show as my own contribution to the wellbeing of my fellow human beings or in having not endeavoured to make the best of a possibly grave scenario. This is true in my case as an individual and could be true as well for others of my generation. But I still consider that I have the right to speak or write about the blunders of great men and women who straddled the Earth before me and hold them to account for the miseries of the human condition today. In my opinion it is the accumulation of their acts of omission and commission, which has willy-nilly brought humanity to the current state of impasse.
Our time is the phase of ascendancy of neoliberalism and right wing xenophobia, but we are still living in the era of some left over freedom. So I have the right to record my say – on my own behalf and on behalf of some men and women of my times.
Gandhi is considered to be the Father of our nation. Gandhi is credited to have led a nonviolent struggle against the mighty British colonialism and won the freedom for our people. In received historical accounts, Gandhi is supposed to have carried to its logical culmination a bloodless anti-colonial revolution, a record of sorts in human history.
Many would prefer to juxtapose Gandhi and Modi on the opposite poles of the political divide.
Both Gandhi and Modi could also inhabit the same grey zone. The only saving grace could be that Modi consciously engineered the Gujarat 2002 genocide, whereas Gandhi was an unwilling, but nevertheless not a mute spectator to the horrendous fratricidal bloodletting that followed the transfer of power and partition.
Briefly put, I consider Modi to be the present day incarnation of Gandhi. I can perceive daggers being drawn for I have written something unholy and unthinkable, but I still say it is very plausible and I have the right to present my case.
There are great similarities in the strategy and tactics adopted by Gandhi and Modi, in substance definitely, although not essentially in form; beside the ignorable fact that they hail from the same region of the subcontinent. Consider the following facts:
- In 1920, after the passing away of Tilak, Gandhi took over the leadership of the Indian National Congress by disarming all opposition. Then after the Chauri Chaura episode, Gandhi’s word was Congress policy, for all purposes.
Modi just carried out the same exercise within the BJP. In the case of Modi, the process was initiated in 2002 and came to fruition in 2012.
- After the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh or rather Karachi Congress (1935) Gandhi gained the upper hand the entire spectrum of opposition outside the Congress.
Modi has repeated this feat after his party gained a simple majority, in the first-past-the-pole system, by garnering a 30% of the votes polls in recently conclude elections to the parliament in 2014.
- Gandhi had his South African experience to speak for his abilities.
Modi had his Gujarat (2002) experiment to showcase his expertise.
- Gandhi was the Great Helmsman who steered the Indian bourgeois to safety in the turbulent times of mass upheavals in the subcontinent after the closure of the Second World War.
Modi is trying to repeat Gandhi’s feat in neoliberal times, in the period of retreat of the communist challenge to bourgeois hegemony in the region and imperialist hegemony around the world.
If this is construed as a cynical reading of the past and present, so be it.
It is said history unfold first as a tragedy and then again as a farce. There is a grain of truth in that assessment.
Perhaps this is so because as Ashok Mitra had once aptly remarked that “The tradition of hero worship which is a bane of the Indian psyche.”
However, let me end this on a note of hope for, as Raymond Williams said, “To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing…” The people of this subcontinent also have a tradition of resistance to authoritarianism. It stands to reason to reiterate here that ‘Everything hinges on the consistency with which our people cherish, promote and strengthen that noble tradition’.