Modi Abusing History for Political Mileage

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By Ram Puniyani *

The politics of Modi’s parent organization RSS is based on distortion of history, medieval history in particular. To begin with the projection of kings through the prism of religion, to demonize Muslim kings based on distortions and falsehoods of History, and then in turn spreading hatred against Muslims of today has been the foundation on which RSS built it up.

Taking the same method to further lower levels currently Narendra Modi is trampling, distorting the facts of history to project his ideology. In the last week, October 2013, he addressed two meetings and gave one interview which showed the levels to which he can fall to score the political mileage.

In Sardar Patel memorial inauguration; Modi said that Sardar Patel should have been the first Prime minister of India. This was a dig at two major leaders of freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi and Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. One recalls that Mahatma Gandhi, father of Indian Nation, was the one who had the mandate of the whole nation, irrespective of region, religion, gender and caste. It was left to Gandhi to nominate the Prime Minister and he unhesitatingly named Nehru to be the first Prime minister of the country. There might have been different factors weighing on the mind of Mahatma, as Sardar Patel and Nehru both were his closest disciples. He knew both of them thoroughly, and he made the choice. Patel went on to be the deputy Prime Minster and Home minister, in which capacity he was instrumental in merging over 550 princely states in to Indian union, a remarkable contribution to Indian nationalism. Nehru as Prime minister laid the foundation of all the policies related to industrial growth, education, foreign affairs and became the ‘architect of Modern India’, India on the path of Industrialization and education, the foundations due to which today India has been catapulted to be one of the major economic powers in the world. 

Surely, in such a marathon enterprise the contribution of his Cabinet colleagues should not be underestimated. While criticism of some of his policies is in order, the credit for trying to take India out of the feudal society, the society of blatant slavery of dominated castes and women, to the society with democratic values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, were also laid under his indomitable leadership. Sardar Patel is being projected by Modi-RSS despite knowing that Patel was deeply committed to Indian Nationalism, staunch follower of Gandhi and a thoroughly secular person. RSS has none of this, RSS-Modi are totally opposed to the values, which Sardar espoused. The first thing which Modi tries to do in this direction is to emotionally undermine the role of Pundit Nehru. He went to the extent of saying in one of the interviews given to a Hindi daily, that Nehru did not attend the funeral ceremony of Patel. This is a total concoction. This blatant lie was immediately exposed as the Times of India, on front page had covered this event and prominently told the readers about the presence of President Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Pundit Nehru on the occasion. It also published the deep condolences of Nehru who said that Sardar Patel has contributed immensely to the process of India’s freedom and making of India. Congress Leader Digvijay Singh has posted the clip of the documentary showing Nehru attending the funeral. Also it was recalled that Morarji Desai in his autobiography Volume I page 271, Para 2 mentioned the presence of Pundit Nehru on the occasion. In the face of this Modi retracted his statement, and usual things about being misquoted etc were dished out. 

It is surprising that RSS-Modi are trying to project a person as their icon, who had banned their organization after the murder of father of the nation. In his letter to the RSS Chief M.S. Golwalkar, Sardar Patel wrote, “All their (RSS) leaders’ speeches were full of communal poison. As a final result, the poisonous atmosphere was created in which such a ghastly tragedy (Gandhi’s murder) became possible.” (Excerpts from Sardar Patel’s letter, in Outlook April 27, 1998) Same Outlook issue tells us that RSS expressed their joy and distributed sweets after Gandhi’s death. One can add that by attacking the choice of Mahatma Gandhi for the Prime ministerial post, Modi is continuing the work of Hindu nationalism’s attack on Indian Nationalism started by Godse. This Hindu nationalist, Godse, attacked Gandhi for insisting on Indian Nationalism and now another Hindu Nationalist Modi is attacking Mahatma for his choice of the Prime Minister. This attempt of Modi to say that Sardar Patel Should have been the Prime Minister instead of Nehru, more than undermining Nehru is a direct attack on Gandhi. Not surprising! As Modi belongs to the Hindu nationalism school of thought for whom Gandhi and his ideology were not acceptable for their strong support for diversity of India. Here they also undermine Sardar Patel who was equally committed to the values of pluralism and secularism of India, in shaping which he contributed immensely. Patel was committed to actualize Gandhi’s dream of secular India, and for this he contributed all his life.

Neetish Kumar in another part of the country; pointed out two major things. One as to how Modi spoke lies about Chandragupta Maurya being from Gupta dynasty, while he was from Maurya dynasty. Second that Alexander came up to Ganges. As a matter of fact, Alexander returned from the banks of Sutlej. Modi displayed his knowledge or lack of it by saying that Taxila belongs to Bihar, while it is in Western part and is currently part of Pakistan. Modi’s these utterances were meant to play to the gallery in Patna meeting. The Patna meeting was called as Hunkar rally, Hunkar means speaking something vociferously and with arrogance, a sign of fascist mind set. Modi also exhorted the audience to ‘weed out’ opponents. This is the mindset of a fascist again who wants to eliminate the opponents. This is what Hitler did, weeding out Jews, Trade Unionists and Communist during his regime. While currently Modi is focusing on political opponents, his ideology of Hindu nationalism has spread the slogan of Pehle Kasai phir Isai. (First the Muslims, then the Christians) So here we are witnessing a dangerous scenario emerging. Attack on Indian Nationalism, by attacking the choice of Gandhi for Prime Minister’s post. A total distortion of history to play to the gallery, Goebbels style. And use of a language which fascists routinely do, of weeding out others. 

At this point of time to compare RSS-BJP-Modi with any other electoral formation is dangerous as BJP is a different cup of tea, it is molded for Hindu nationalism, and Modi with his fascist tendencies is unable to conceal his fangs. Those equating BJP-Modi with any other party are doing a fatal mistake, which the country may have to regret later at the cost of loosing democracy. Let’s recall that Hitler also came to power through democratic means. Having once come to power, he was quick enough to abolish democracy and impose fascism through his multiple wings, storm troopers, foot soldiers on one side and the followers of his ideology in different forms, on the other. Warning bells are loud and clear, those wanting to live in a democratic Indian nation need to take it as a wakeup call.  

* The author is Professor Biomedical Engineering at IIT Mumbai and has been involved with human rights activities for last two decades. He is recipient of Indira Gandhi National Integration Award in 2006. He has worked  with groups for workers’ rights. Since 1992, he has been associated with various secular and democratic initiatives, working for communal harmony and opposing the rising tide of Fundamentalism-Fascism in India. He has written books, contributed articles and essays in magazines and newspapers and conducted seminars and workshops on the theme of threat of communal politics to democratic society. He is running a fortnightly e-bulletin ‘Issues in secular politics’. His email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

OCTOBER 2017

Vol. 12 - No. 3










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