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We'll get rid of Telugu unity, but gently: Narendra Modi

Kiran Batni http://kiranbatni

Updated: February 18, 2014, 10:07 AM IST
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Explaining that the Indians must be made to "withdraw themselves to a culture of a small piece of land" and become so indebted to the US that they'd have no option but to cede lands, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter written to the Governor of Indiana in 1803, gave a candid account of the strategy behind US expansionism. That strategy, he said, would ensure that "our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us a citizens or the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi."

"The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear," he continued, "we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them, and that all our liberalities to them proceed from motives of pure humanity only." Thus, Jefferson made it amply clear that love, not hate, must be the instrument of Indian removal.

Fast-forward to Narendra Modi and Telangana.

Addressing the BJP election rally in Surat on Friday, February 14th (the date incidentally having a little something to do with love), Modi accused the Congress of sowing the "seeds of poison" in "the way you want to create Telangana from Andhra". Note: the problem is not with the fact that the Congress wants to create Telangana, but the way in which it has gone about it. Love, not hate, must be the instrument, you see? Why isn't the Congress government displaying the liberalities that proceed from motives of pure humanity when the Telugus are already so weak that it only needs to shut its hand to crush them? When you're circumscribing them anyway, why spill so much blood? That's Modi's question, stemming from the milk of Jeffersonian kindness.

When the destination is fixed, political parties compete to claim that theirs is the only journey blessed by morality. But where is the proof that the destination is divine? Where is the proof that the removal of the natives from America or the destruction of Telugu unity is a moral and desirable destination in itself? Where is the proof that non-Telugus circumscribing and approaching the Telugus and destroying their unity with the power of the nation of a billion people is what Providence has decided to be the destiny of the Telugus? Where is the proof that this is the termination of their history most happy for themselves?

The BJP likes to tell the people of India that it has "the strongest record on the creation of small states". Who said that's a moral objective which just lacks brisk execution? Both the BJP and the Congress (and even AAP, as clear now) are taking it for granted that India's unity can be created using the bricks of disunity, but they are badly mistaken. India's unity can never be ensured at the cost of Telugu unity, or the unity of any other linguistic people. Clearly, every party that wishes to take control of the Central Government knows that 'divide and rule' is a proven strategy to make that wish come true. What better way to accumulate power in New Delhi than increasing the number of hungry states that fight with each other and have lives hanging from your giving hand-a hand that first takes all there is to be taken?

Modi's claim of a moral high ground vis-a-vis the Congress in the Telangana matter, in summary, is that it is his party which knows how to reach the destination of a destroyed Telugu unity with the least blood spilled. But both his party and the Congress assume that that destination is moral and desirable beyond doubt. The Congress, according to Modi, is just too uncaring and inefficient to minimize the blood spilled on the way. But how does it matter when that destination ought never to be reached if morality has to have a place in India's future?

In fact, isn't it better that more blood is spilled as Telugu unity is destroyed, so that people realize that the problem is with the destination, not the journey? Why don't the so-called national parties realize that they're setting the dangerous precedent that the way forward is to make people, who are bound by the inseparable ties of a common language, move away from each other? If unity can be achieved by creating disunity within linguistic groups, won't it be achieved faster if disunity is created between them? Isn't it high time Indians realized that unity must not be destroyed at any level, even if gently?

First Published: February 18, 2014, 10:07 AM IST

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