If Malayalis Make Mistake of Electing Rahul Gandhi Again, They're Handing Over Advantage to Modi: Ram Guha
Historian Ramachandra Guha on the second day of the ongoing Kerala Literature Festival (KLF)
Guha said the reduction of the Congress from a 'great party' during the freedom movement to a 'pathetic family firm' now is one of the reasons for the ascendency of Hindutva and jingoism in India.
- Last Updated: January 18, 2020, 14:47 IST
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Kozhikode: Historian Ramachandra Guha, who was recently dragged and then detained by the Bengaluru Police for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, told Kerala voters that they would make a 'mistake' if they were to re-elect Rahul Gandhi in 2024. He cited Congress leader's 'dynast' as a drawback that helped the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership evade questions on policies.
"I have nothing against Rahul Gandhi personally. He is a decent fellow, very well-mannered. But young India does not want a fifth-generation dynast. If you Malyalis make the mistake of re-electing Rahul Gandhi in 2024 too, you are merely handing over an advantage to Narendra Modi," said Guha on the second day of the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) during his talk, "Patriotism Vs Jingoism".
Guha said the reduction of the Congress from a "great party" during the freedom movement to a "pathetic family firm" now is one of the reasons for the ascendancy of Hindutva and jingoism in India.
Addressing the crowd, full of Keralites, he said, "Kerala, you have done many wonderful things for India, but one of the disastrous things you did was to elect Rahul Gandhi to the Parliament."
"Narendra Modi's great advantage is that he is not Rahul Gandhi. He is self-made. He has run a state for 15 years, he has an administrative experience, he is incredibly hard working and he never takes holidays in Europe. Believe me I am saying all this in all seriousness," Guha said.
But, even if Rahul Gandhi was "much more intelligent, more hard-working, never took a holiday in Europe, as a fifth-generation dynast, he still will be at a disadvantage against a self-made person", the 61-year-old author said.
Further, he quoted his teacher and noted Indian sociologist Andre Beteille to describe the story of Nehru-Gandhi family as a classic "reversal of the famous Biblical injunction": the sins of the father will be visited upon seven successive generations.
"In the Nehru's case, it is the sins of the seven successive generations have been re-visited upon Nehru... look at the national debate today. Why is Nehru evoked every time? Why does Modi always say 'Nehru ne kashmir mein yeh kiya, China mein yeh kiya, Triple Talaq mein yeh kiye...' because Rahul Gandhi is there.
"Now if Rahul Gandhi disappears, Modi has to talk about his own policies and why they failed," he said.
According to Guha, "Hypocrisy of the Indian Left, the fact that they loved other nations more than India", "rise of aggressive nationalism worldwide" and "the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in neighbouring countries" are some other reasons behind the evident leap of Hindutva in India in the recent times.
The noted historian is often under attack by right-wing supporters, who accuse Guha of 'encouraging divisive tendencies'.
Last year, the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had met an Ahmedabad University official and told him that they didn't want Guha to teach in the city. "We said we want intellectuals in our educational institutes and and not anti-nationals," an ABVP member was quoted as saying by Indian Express, adding that they had quoted "anti-national content" from his books to the official.
The ABVP members alleged that the historian 'incited feelings of alienation in the name of independence of the individual, freeing terrorists in the name of independence of the individual, and separating Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian union".
On Friday, Guha, in his editorial for Telegraph newspaper, wrote that anyone who works with (PM Narendra) Modi "has to observe one rule: total obsequiousness, no credit". "There is one exception to this rule — the home minister. The disastrous DeMo was the result of not listening to expert advice; whereas the disastrous CAA was piloted by the HM," he tweeted sharing his editorial.
Launching a scathing attack on the Centre, he further wrote that ministerships were given to politicians whose talent lay chiefly (if not exclusively) in demonising political opponents and religious minorities.
"To make matters worse, the loss of Jaitley, Swaraj and Parrikar had been compounded by the flight of first-rate professional talent from the Central government. In the prime minister's first term he had the benefit of the full-time advice of at least four top-flight economists — Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Urjit Patel and Arvind Panagariya. By 2019, all had left government, to be replaced by people who lacked the professional credibility the earlier quartet did," Guha said.
The historian believes that PM Modi's second term has drawn sharper criticism as "some high-quality civil servants during PM 's first term in both the finance ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, individuals with experience and wisdom who were unafraid to speak their mind". However, by the time, the prime minister was sworn afresh, the able officials had leftthe government.
"There is a pattern here. It seems that Modi cannot work closely or for long periods with people of independent standing, whether these be civil servants, economists, or other politicians within his own party. There could be at least three reasons for this. First, the prime minister is by temperament a loner, with no friends and family, an entirely self-made man who has never really learnt to build relations of reciprocity. Second, he is an autodidact, entirely self-taught, who is suspicious of people with degrees from prestigious universities (hence his famous, or rather notorious, remark that he would always choose ‘hard work’ over ‘Harvard’). Third, he is a narcissist, whose world revolves largely — if not entirely — around himself. He is the BJP, he is the Government, he is the Union Cabinet, and he is India. There is no Team Modi — for there can only be a Brand Modi," the historian wrote in the Telegraph.
At the event on Kerala on Friday, Guha also attacked Sonia Gandhi, who, he said, reminded him of the "late Mughal dynasty" and how aloof they were of the state of their kingdom.
"India is becoming more democratic and less feudal, and the Gandhis just don't realise this. You (Sonia) are in Delhi, your kingdom is shrinking more and more, but still your chamchas (sycophants) are telling you that you are still the badshah," he said.
(With PTI inputs)