A few weeks back the RSS mouthpiece in Malayalam, Kesari, published an article, by a man who contested the last elections on a BJP ticket, in which the writer argued that Nehru should have been the more appropriate target of Nathuram Godse’s bullets than Gandhi. The article went on to heap as much ignominy on Nehru as possible.
The Sangh Parivar could never accept people like Gandhi and Nehru whose vision was extremely inclusive. The Parivar’s own vision was not only exclusive but also filled with hatred for people professing religions other than Hinduism.
|BJP ad on the Maulana's birth anniversary|
Mr Narendra Modi is shrewd enough to realise the danger that underlies such a constricted vision. Gandhi and Nehru were (and they still are) highly admired far beyond the borders of Hindutva. Modi as Prime Minister cannot afford to denigrate such figures in other countries at least. Hence he changed the strategy: he decided to incorporate them into the Parivar pantheon which had anyway very few occupants of global reputation. Sardar Patel was adopted first. Gandhi followed. Maulana Azad’s contributions to the freedom struggle were lauded by the Prime Minister on his birth anniversary the other day (though the Maulana was rechristened). And now the BJP is competing with the Congress to celebrate Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary.
It seems that the national heroes of the Congress Party can only evoke images of the broom in Mr Modi’s mind. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, “PM Modi, who took charge of the panel to celebrate Nehru’s birth anniversary after assuming power at the centre, wants “Bal Swachhta Mission” to be organized at schools November 14-19. He also suggested celebrating the 125th anniversary of Nehru as the “year of Bal Swachhta”.
Why not secularism, for a change? After all, Nehru’s version of secularism was unique. He redefined the concept in a way nobody had thought of earlier. He made it the basis of religious tolerance in the country. Nehruvian secularism will remain relevant in India as long as its religious diversity is allowed to survive.
Nehru envisaged an India where science replaced superstition, reason prevailed over blind faith, and humanism took over religious bigotry. He was also a scholar who wrote a number of great books. There are so many great qualities in this man which can be highlighted. Yet one wonders why our Prime Minister has decided to associate Swachhta with him. How many freedom fighters will be forced to be Broom Ambassadors? To what extent will history be trivialised in the days to come?