Gandhi, Patel versus Modi

Subhash Gatade

Narendra Modi (NaMo as he is popularly known) wants to usher in ‘Congress free India’. In his maiden speech after being elected as the Election Campaign Chief at the party’s Goa conclave, he had clearly said it in no uncertain terms. As one can recall this part of his speech came under severe criticism and it was underlined that it shows his fascistic mindset. It was said that Modi does not want merely to defeat Congress politically but wants to obliterate it completely as if the Grand Old Party of India was synonymous to a pest which needed this specific treatment.
Now supposedly to offset this charge, he has come out with a fresh explanation of the same statement. He has invoked Gandhi to say that the idea of ‘Congress free India’ did not belong to him and was initially expressed by Gandhi and by reiterating it he just wanted to fulfill Mahatma’s dream.
Perhaps it would be opportune here to know what Gandhi had said and expressed in connection with future of Congress. Gandhi had written:
”Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means provided by the Indian National Congress, the Congress ,in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies.”
It would be opportune here to state that to further this task he talked of disbanding the existing Congress organisation and ‘let it flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh.’ Gandhi does not talk of obliterating the organisation which he helped build.
Commenting on Modi’s wish to fulfill Gandhi’s dream ‘Free Press Journal’ (When Modi Deciphers Gandhi, 27 th September 2013) had written how Modi,
“”..[s]imply latched on to the idea that the Congress had outlived its use in 1947. Putting two and two together, he has cleverly envisioned that if something was not done in the wake of Independence, then in a spirit of the cliché better late then never, it would be good to achieve the ‘ Gandhian goal to finish the Congress,’ now and by that logic, help him realise his dream of becoming the prime minister. We can see that Modi has used his old trick to introduce this connection between his unabashed personal desire to be the prime minister with a 63-year-old Gandhian goal. This is a well-practised technique. Much in the same way he used to tell his Gujarat audiences in 2002 that if he won, they would celebrate, and if he lost, then Mian Musharraf would be celebrating. This clearly skips the reality. Neither was Musharraf a factor in the Gujarat elections, nor is the late Mahatma Gandhi much of a revered figure for the Sangh Parivar that they should mourn for his unfulfilled dream.

Photo: Tehelka

Interestingly, Modi’s yearning to ‘fulfill Mahatma’s dream’ reminds one of another of his attempt to package himself as a true follower of Sardar Patel.
Since last few months we are being told that Modi wants to build a big statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat which would be the biggest statue one has ever seen. And he wants to accomplish this task through people’s participation. He wants every village in India to contribute iron pieces for this Grand Project. The growing deification of Sardar Patel, by Modi and the whole Saffron Brigade, increasingly looks hilarious if one takes a look at post-independence period.
While Narendra Modi or his Parivar men can suffer from selective amnesia if it suits their convenience but the world at large very well remembers Patel as that leader of India who was instrumental in its unification and was aware about the hate politics practised by RSS and Hindu Mahasabha combine. The government communique of February 4, 1948, announcing the ban on RSS after Gandhi’s assassination said :
…Government have, however, noticed with regret that in practice members of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have not adhered to their professed ideals.
“Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by the members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunitions. They have been found circulating leaflets, exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and military.”
The world at large knows how the Hindu fanatics had planned the murder of the Mahatma and how the likes of Savarkar and Golwalkar, the second Supremo of RSS could be held to be responsible for creating the ambience of hate  which culminated in the gruesome act. Sardar Patel’s letter to Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, who was then member Hindu Mahasabha and who later formed Bharatiya Jansangh with RSS’s support provides enough details about the background (18 th July, 1948)
… our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former (the RSS), an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy (Gandhiji’s assassination) became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of government and the state. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure
According to Narendra Modi’s biographers, he became a member of RSS since his days of adolescence only and has also worked with the then Supremo of RSS Golwalkar. It is possible that Narendra Modi has of late become convinced about the politics of hate, violence, subversion and terror practised by RSS about which Vallabhbhai Patel – who remained a Congressman all his life – was aware of and had extensively written about it. If he does not formally acknowledges this ‘change of heart’ then it will be presumed that he is
“.[l]ionizing Patel through a conscious process of selective amnesia and cynical manipulation, harping on what Patel did to unite India, but deliberately ignoring his strong views on those who wanted to divide her through the politics of communal incitement and violence.” (Pavan K Verma, Times of India, 28 th September 2013)
It is time Modi and the larger Parivar gets ready to do a course correction. Question remains, which finds mention in Bible, Jeremiah 13:23 (King James Version):

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
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